From the time Narendra Modi took over as Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001 he has been known as a man with formidable organising skills. It is known to all that he works for very long hours and makes sure that his staff too puts in equal number of hours.
PM would opt for surprise checks and expected ministers and bureaucrats to be prepared for a meeting and he would not want theories as inputs. PM wanted short action bullet points.
Workaholic Prime Minister has now come up with multi layered selection criteria for appointing joint secretaries, additional secretaries, departmental secretaries and chief secretaries.
PM and his team had recently created excitement among bureaucrats by not selecting nine out of 42 officers whose names had been put forward for various postings. The reasons given for rejection were poor performance on delivery and lack of personal integrity.
The strange thing is that those rejected had also got outstanding grades in their annual personal appraisal reports (APAR). What created lot of buzz among bureaucrats was that this was not going to be a one off instance but it was part of an enormous modification practice initiated in the selection process.
It seems that for the first time in the selection process of bureaucrats lot of importance is being given to competence and honesty.
To ensure that it is not possible for non-performing and corrupt public servants to reach the top position the selection process has been made multi layered.
Alike the past as part of the first step the former bureaucrats who are part of the committee of experts will give recommendations for the post of joint, additional, departmental and chief secretaries. These officers will be first short listed on the basis of the score they receive in APAR.
As part of the second step pen portraits of the short listed officers will be made. The portraits will be in a seven-page format and they will judged on skills such as their ability to handle finance, regulation, technology, execution and policy making.
Their expertise in the fields like economy, energy, agriculture, education and tourism will also be considered. Along with that they will be judged on their behavioural competence and how good communication skills they have.
Team spirit, long-term vision, humility, empathy, financial and intellectual integrity will also be considered before making the final choices.
The Union Government is also changing how the officers are graded under APAR. The new system will require that one expert speaks to one senior, one junior and one peer group officer to give feedback. The fourth feedback will come from an individual who has interacted with the officer as a client. The feedback will be filled in the seven-page format and the names of those who gave feedback will be mentioned.
The government intends to get complete picture of each candidate and portrayal of their personalities. The government also wants to know that the officer is most suitable for which job.
Prime Minister has ensured that before his government implements the new selection procedure the selection committee had studied best practices for selection of officers. That are practiced in many nations and private companies.
From the workaholic Prime Minister country soon expects such a strict criteria of selection for the Chairman, Managing Directors and Directors of all the loss making nationalised banks.
After many decades the government is paving a path for administrative reforms which have been talked about since ages but never implemented. Citizens can this time be assured that administrative reforms will see the light of the day as PM Modi is known to be very strict about it.
After assuming post of Prime Minister he had appointed P K Mishra (a no nonsense officer who was also Narendra Modi's principal secretary when Mr. Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat) as his additional principal secretary and ensure that the transfer and posting which flourished on political backing stopped.
Citizens can be sure that the new method of selection will completely change how bureaucracy functions and how it becomes result oriented. The government on its part has sent a very strict message that of all the officers those who can perform in all round manner will only be able to climb up the promotion ladder.