Not cadre rules, empanelment worries Andhra Pradesh IAS officers

From the AP cadre, there are now only three IAS officers in the Secretary rank

Amaravati: More than the proposed changes to the cadre rules, non-empanelment for various ranks has become the major stumbling block for Indian Administrative Service officers of Andhra Pradesh cadre, depriving them of the opportunity to serve at the Centre.

The ‘360-degree' system, under which senior IAS officers, and even retired bureaucrats, are called at random to evaluate junior officers before they are considered for empanelment at the Centre, is affecting their prospects, the officers lament.

From the AP cadre, there are now only three IAS officers in the Secretary rank, one Additional Secretary rank and four in the Joint Secretary rank working in the central government on deputation. One more is at the Director level.

Two officers are empanelled in the Additional Secretary rank and four in the Joint Secretary rank, making them eligible for central posting.

For the record, as per the cadre strength fixed by the Centre, at least 52 IAS officers from AP should be on ‘Central Deputation Reserve' but the current number is a mere 15, with little empanelment in the last few years.

“This is the lowest number of empanelled officers from the state to the Centre in decades, though many are competent. If this trend continues, soon there will be little AP presence in the central bureaucracy,” a top IAS officer pointed out.

Of the three Secretaries (from AP cadre) in the central departments, one will retire at the end of February and another in August. The third one will retire in June 2023.

“After that, for years there may not be a Union Secretary from our state cadre at the Centre. Earlier, there used to be at least half a dozen officers from AP holding crucial Secretary posts in the GoI,” the officer said.

What has become worrisome for bureaucrats is the depletion of “bench strength” at the Centre.

Of the four Joint Secretaries now at the Centre, three are on only a few months' extension and have to return to the state soon.

The central deputation tenure of the lone Director level officer is also coming to an end.

The state government has recently issued the no-objection certificate to only one IAS officer for deputation to the Centre at the Joint Secretary level.

“Beyond that neither there are officers empanelled, nor is the state willing to spare those already eligible. This is worrisome as hopes of middle-level officers to gain exposure at the national level are getting dashed," a officer lamented.

Since 2007, a two-year central deputation at the Director level has been mandatory even for empanelment as Joint Secretary.

“If the state doesn't send Director or Deputy Secretary level officers on deputation, they can't become Joint Secretary or further up at the Centre. It affects the career progression of IAS officers adversely, but importantly the state will be the ultimate loser as there will not be any representation at the Centre in a few years,” a top bureaucrat told PTI.

Referring to the grounds cited by the Centre for the proposed amendments to the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954, officers observe the claim that “states are not sponsoring adequate number of officers for Central deputation” leading to shortage was “not valid”.

“After the 360-degree system of evaluation was put in place, somehow the AP cadre officers lost out and many could not even get empanelled for Additional Secretary and Secretary-rank posts in New Delhi,” the top bureaucrat said.

“These officers are many a time giving wrong and negative feedback about their colleagues, leaving the juniors in the lurch. The government of India should discard the views of these officials or do a 360-degree afresh for the cadre,” the top bureaucrat said.

It is based on the feedback provided by the bureaucrats that Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi two days ago, welcoming the proposed changes to the cadre rules.

“More IAS officers from the state cadre at different levels in the central government will help the state. The AP government will take all necessary measures as per the proposed amendments to ensure required number of officers are sponsored from the state,” the Chief Minister said.

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