General Studies IIGOVERNANCE

Lateral entry in bureaucracy


The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has issued an advertisement seeking applications for three posts of Joint Secretary and 27 of Director in central government Departments.

Earlier this month, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) issued an advertisement seeking applications “from talented and motivated Indian nationals willing to contribute towards nation building” for three posts of Joint Secretary and 27 of Director in central government Departments.

These individuals, who would make a “lateral entry” into the government secretariat, would be contracted for three to five years. These posts were “unreserved”, meaning were no quotas for SCs, STs and OBCs.

What is ‘lateral entry’ into government?

  • NITI Aayog, in its three-year Action Agenda, report submitted in February 2017, recommended the induction of personnel at middle and senior management levels in the central government.
  • These ‘lateral entrants’ would be part of the central secretariat which in the normal course has only career bureaucrats from the All India Services/ Central Civil Services.
  • A Joint Secretary, appointed by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), has the third highest rank (after Secretary and Additional Secretary) in a Department, and functions as administrative head of a wing in the Department. Directors are a rank below that of Joint Secretary.

What is the government’s reasoning for lateral entry?

  • Appointment of some prominent persons for specific assignments in government  leads to  specialised knowledge and expertise in the domain area.
  • In other hand lateral recruitment is aimed at achieving the twin objectives of bringing in fresh talent as well as augment the availability of manpower.

Has the government so far made any ‘lateral entry’ appointments?

Earlier, the government had decided to appoint experts from outside the government to 10 positions of Joint Secretary in different Ministries/Departments and 40 positions at the level of Deputy Secretary/Director.

The ad for the Joint Secretary-level appointments, issued in early 2018, attracted 6,077 applications; after a selection process by the UPSC, nine individuals were recommended for appointment in nine different Ministries/Departments in 2019.

One of these individuals did not join; the rest were appointed on a three-year contract & one resigned in December last year to return to the private sector.


    • Groups representing SCs, STs and OBCs have protested the fact that there will be no adequate representation in these appointments.

  • In a single post cadre, reservation does not apply. Since each post to be filled under this scheme is a Single Post, reservation is not applicable.

Source: Indian Express

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