Civil Services Reforms

Finding a way to share IAS officers


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Amendment to IAS cadre rules


There are recent reports in the media about serious concerns of several state governments on Government of India’s proposed move to amend the IAS service rules to meet the shortage of officers at various levels at the Centre.

How does central deputation work?

  • Voluntary: Under the current dispensation, officers opt for central deputation from the states voluntarily.
  • The Centre then makes a selection from among these officers for posts which are vacant or are likely to be vacant in the near future.
  • While doing so, it considers the suitability of the officer based on his/her past experience.
  • Once the selection is finalised, orders are issued, requesting the state government to relieve the officer concerned.
  • Quota for each state: Each state has a certain quota beyond which its officers are not accepted by the Centre.

Shortage of officers on central deputation

  • In the last decade, there has been a gradual decline in the number of officers who opt for central deputation.
  • Generally, of the total cadre strength of the states, about 25-30 per cent used to be on central deputation.
  • Currently, less than 10 per cent are working in various central ministries.
  • According to certain reports, in states like UP, Bihar, Odisha and Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the number is between 8 per cent and 15 per cent.
  • One of the reasons for this non-availability of officers for central deputation is the inadequate recruitment more than a decade and half ago.
  • But an important reason is also the comparatively better service conditions in the states.

So, what do the proposed rules seek to achieve?

  • While fixing the cadre strength of states, about 40 per cent posts of senior duty are earmarked for central deputation.
  • Shortage to be shared equitably: Considering that recruitments in the past were not adequate, the proposed change in rules provides for shortage to be shared equitably between the Centre and states.
  • Time limit to relieve officers: Also, since vacancies need to be filled in time, there is a suggestion of a time limit in which states must respond and relieve the officer selected.

Way forward

  • Respect the views of State: It has to be clearly understood that when states give the list of officers they wish to offer for central deputation, it will be the decision of the states alone.
  • The Centre, if it wishes to have an officer work for it, can suggest so to the state. 
  •  If the state does not wish to suggest his name for deputation, the Centre should respect their views, even though they have the power under cadre rules to do so.
  • Improving working conditions for officers: The Centre has to realise that improving working conditions for officers at the deputy secretary and director levels is critical to the success of cadre management.
  • Many of the officers at this level have concerns regarding education of their children, transport and the higher cost of living in Delhi.
  • A deputation allowance for the period of deputation in Delhi could be an option.
  • Non-adversarial manner: The states also have to look at this issue in a non-adversarial manner, where needs of both the Centre and the state have to be matched and met.
  • The Centre should dispel fears of states about misuse of central power.


Proposed amendment to service rules is needed to meet shortage of personnel, but Centre must dispel states’ fears about overreach.

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