Central government offices will have to do without the usual battery of clerks very soon. The department of personnel and training is working on a plan to thoroughly overhaul the recruitment pattern in government service.
Under the plan, the working pattern in government offices will become totally centered around officers.
|The new plan|
Officers at any level will be assisted by only assistant grade staff and not clerks. Clerical staff comprised over 60 per cent of the total 3.5 million central government employees as on January 1, 2002.
The officers, instead of depending on clerks for the paper work, will have to work in a far more computer-enabled environment than at present.
To ensure the success of the plan, recruitment to the ranks of lower and upper division clerks, comprising the largest share of group C employees, will be soon done away with.
The Staff Selection Commission recruits about 7,000 people for government service annually, of which clerks form the largest share.
Under the plan, clerks will be given an option to appear for a departmental examination to qualify as assistants.
Government officials said the examination would be compulsory for both upper and lower division clerks.
Each employee in the grade, having completed a minimum number of years in service, will have to appear for the examination. However, officials said the changes could not be dramatic and might stretch over a five-year period.
The exercise may, however, push up the Centre's wage bill, estimated at Rs 33,037 crore (Rs 330.37 billion) for 2003-04. Officials, however, said the difference in salary between the lowest grade of assistant and the highest grade of clerks, was very thin.
Since most Group C employees reached the upper limit of their grade way before their promotion, the additional bill for the Centre was not expected to be significant, they said.
The officials said the exercise would also have a positive spin-off, as deserving candidates would get faster promotions to the assistant grade, which took a long time now.
A sharply tapering promotion avenue makes it impossible for a clerk to qualify as an assistant, without having completed nearly 20 years of service in the same grade.
The sources said the compulsory examination system would also ensure a degree of competition among all the group C staff to qualify for the same.
At present, the central government employs four grades of staff.
At the top are Group A officers, who largely comprise those coming from the civil service and similar examinations. Below them are the group B officers, who are basically promoted from junior ranks.
The Group C staff includes the clerks and other support staff, with Group D, including office boys, daftaris and sweepers.