Reforms needed in civil services: 2nd ARC report and other committee recommendations

Broad Reforms required

  1. The development work needs some flexibility from a strict observance of rigid rules and regulations. Rigid rule bound bureaucracies should be changed into flexible and action-oriented.
  2. Reforms are required in the field of recruitment of civil servants so that right people could be recruited who can ensure smooth functioning of democracy.
  3. Training of civil servants should be able to bring about behavioural and attitudinal changes.
  4. Administrative procedures, rules and regulations need to be simplified so that red tapism could be minimized; decentralization of authority and collegiate decision making; de-emphasis of hierarchy in the administrative structure
  5. Adoption of modern management techniques such as management by objectives; elimination of corruption so as to secure clean, honest, impartial and efficient administration; creation of new work culture and encouraging creativity.

Observations of 2nd ARC regarding Civil Services in India

It is widely recognised that the civil services have contributed to stability in terms of maintenance of peace, the conduct of fair elections, managing disasters and the preservation of the unity of the nation, providing stability and maintaining order in a vast country prone to various conflicts – ethnic, communal, regional etc. Nonetheless there are certain concerns about the performance of the civil service in the context of realizing a results-oriented government. Some of them are:

  1. It has been pointed out that the Civil Service in India is more concerned with the internal processes than with results.
  2. The systemic rigidities, needless complexities and over-centralization in the policy and management structures within which the civil service functions are too complex and often too constraining.
  3. The structures are based on hierarchies and there are a large number of veto points to be negotiated for a decision to eventually emerge.
  4. To compound it, the size and the number of ministries and departments have both overloaded the decision-making system and diminished the capacities of the individual civil servants to fulfill their operational responsibilities.
  5. Rapid and fundamental changes are taking place in the country in terms of rapid economic growth, urbanization, environmental degradation, technological change and increased local awareness and identity. The response time to adapt to these changes is much shorter than it used to be. As instruments of public service, civil servants have to be ready to manage such change.
  6. On the other hand, the perception is that they resist change as they are wedded to their privileges and prospects and thereby have become ends in themselves.
  7. The 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution have brought about a major change. Rural and urban local governments have to be enabled to become institutions of self government. To bring this about, the existing system of administration at the district level has to undergo fundamental changes. Though sixteen years have passed, the progress remains very slow and local governments are ‘local’ only in ‘form’ but are ‘central and state in content’.
  8. With the passage of time, the role of civil society organisations, in governance, has increased with demands for better governance. The same can be said of the private sector, which is increasingly providing services in several areas, which hitherto were the exclusive preserve of the public sector. Consequently, civil servants should view civil society organisations and the private sector as partners in the process of the country’s governance.
  9. There is need to shift from pre-eminence of governance to effective governance with a focus on decentralization and citizen-centricity.

Summary of Recommendations: 2nd ARC’s 10th Report

  1. A National Institutes of Public Administration should be established to run Bachelor’s Degree courses in public administration/ governance/management. Selected Central and other Universities should also be assisted to offer graduate level programmes in these courses which will produce graduates to further expand the pool of eligible applicants to the civil services. These graduates would be eligible for appearing in the Civil Services Examinations. Further, graduates in other disciplines would also be eligible to appear in the Civil Services Examination provided they complete a ‘Bridge Course’ in the core subjects mentioned above.
  2. Structure of Examination: Either of the following two models may be adopted for compressing the examination cycle.
  1. The Preliminary and Main Examinations for the Civil Services Examination would be conducted together on two to three consecutive days. Evaluation of papers for the Main Examination should be done in case of only those candidates who have secured a threshold level of marks in the Preliminary Examination. The personality test would follow thereafter.


  1. Based on the results of the Preliminary Examination, candidates eligible for taking the main examination and the personality test would be short listed in accordance with their rankings. Only these short-listed candidates would be eligible for appearing in the Main Examination, which would be conducted within two months of the Preliminary Examination. The short list would be limited to about two to three times of the number of vacancies available. Thus it would be possible to start the Personality Test and the Main Examination almost simultaneously.
  2. The induction of officers of the State Civil Services into the IAS should be done by the UPSC on the basis of a common examination.
  3. In the case of disciplinary proceedings, consultation with the UPSC should be mandatory only in cases involving likely dismissal or removal of a government servant.


Capacity Building


  1. Every government servant should undergo a mandatory training at the induction stage and also periodically during his/her career. Successful completion of these trainings should be a minimum necessary condition for confirmation in service and subsequent promotions.
  2. A monitoring mechanism should be set up for overseeing the implementation of the National Training Policy (1996).
  3. The objective of mid-career training should be to develop domain knowledge and competence required
  4. Public servants should be encouraged to obtain higher academic qualifications and to write papers for reputed and authoritative journals.
  5. The composition of governing bodies of the national training institutions such as the LBSNAA, SVPNPA, IGNFA and also the State Administrative Training Institutes should be broadened by inducting eminent experts.
  6. A National Institute of good governance may be set up by upgrading one of the existing national/state institutes. This institute would identify, document, and disseminate best practices and also conduct training programmes.

Recommendations of some other committees

A number of Committees and Commissions were set up to make recommendations on various aspects of civil services. These recommendations are included in the

  • Report on Public Administration by A.D. Gorwala, 1951;
  • Report on the Public Services (Qualifications for Recruitment)Committee, 1956 – also known as Dr. A. Ramaswami Mudaliar Committee Report;
  • Report on Indian and State Administrative Services and Problems of District Administration by V.T. Krishnamachari, 1962;
  • ARC’s Report on Personnel Administration,1969;
  • Report of the Committee on Recruitment Policy and Selection Methods, 1976 – also known as the D.S. Kothari Committee Report;
  • Report of the Committee to Review the Scheme of the Civil Services Examination, 1989 – also known as the Satish Chandra Committee Report;
  • Report of the Civil Services Examination Review Committee, 2001, also known as Professor Yoginder K. Alagh Committee Report;
  • Report of the Committee on Civil Service Reforms also known as the Hota Committee Report, 2004.

Relevant recommendations of recent committees 

On Recruitment

  1. The Civil Services Examination Review Committee, 2001 (chaired by Professor Yoginder K. Alagh) favored testing the candidates in a common subject rather than on optional subjects.
  2. The Committee on Civil Service Reforms (Hota Committee Report, 2004) recommended that aptitude and leadership tests may be introduced for selection, and that probationers may be allowed one month’s time after commencement of training to exercise their option for Services.

On Training

  1. The Committee to Review In-Service Training of IAS officers, (Yugandhar Committee, 2003) recommended the need for three mid-career training programmes in the 12th, 20th and 28th years of service. Trainings at these 3 stages was suggested as there is a “major shift” in the nature of work of the officer, at these stages of their career.

On Domain Expertise

  1. The first ARC classified higher civil service posts into two categories: posts in the field, and (b) posts at headquarters.
  2. The field posts were held by the members of the ‘functional’ services which included not only the various engineering services but also services such as accounts and income tax. The first ARC noted that the only service that was not functional but occupied most of the higher posts in the civil services was the IAS. The first ARC recommended that the IAS should be converted into a functional service.
  3. Consistent with its philosophy of organizing the administrative machinery along functional lines and inducting talent from all sources, the ARC recommended eight broad areas of specialization: Economic Administration; Industrial Administration; Agricultural and Rural Development Administration; Social and Educational Administration; Personnel Administration; Financial Administration; Defence Administration and Internal Security Planning.
  4. The Report of the Group constituted to Review the System of Performance Appraisal, Promotion, Empanelment and Placement for the All India Services and other Group ‘A’ Services (Surinder Nath Committee Report, 2003) suggested the following 11 domains – Agriculture and Rural Development; Social Sectors (Education, Health, Tribal Welfare, etc.); Culture and Information; Natural Resources Management including Environment (green side); Energy and Environment (brown side); Communication Systems and Connectivity Infrastructure; Public Finance and Finance Management; Industry and Trade; Domestic Affairs and Defence; Housing and Urban Affairs; Personnel and General Administration. The Committee suggested that officers may be assigned to a maximum of three domains out of the eleven listed.
  5. The Hota Committee on Civil Services Reforms, 2004, had recommended that domain assignment should be introduced for civil servants to encourage acquisition of skills, professional excellence and career planning.

On Efficiency

There has been a succession of Committees that were asked to recommend measures for increasing the efficiency of the civil services.

  1. The Appleby Report (1953) contained recommendations relating to the establishment of O&M machinery and an Institute of Public Administration. These two recommendations were implemented by Government.
  2. The Fifth Central Pay Commission (2000) stressed upon the need to optimise the size of the government machinery.
  3. The Expenditure Reforms Commission (2001) emphasised on a drastic downsizing of the government staff strength for securing modern and professional governance and also reducing the increasing salary bill of the Government of India.
  4. The Committee on Civil Services Reforms (Hota Committee, 2004) emphasised the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to transform Government by making it more accessible, effective and accountable. It stressed on the need to recognise that e-governance is about discarding old procedures and transforming the process of decision making and that technology is merely a tool and a catalyst for such transformations.

On Accountability

  1. The Committee on Prevention of Corruption (Santhanam Committee) made a range of recommendations to fight the menace of corruption. It recommended the constitution of the Central Vigilance Commission, and administrative vigilance divisions in all Departments and major organizations of the Government. Changes were also suggested in Article 311 of the Constitution of India for conducting disciplinary proceedings against government servants. It was also recommended that offering of bribes should be made a substantive offence.
  2. The first ARC recommended that the departments and organizations which were in direct charge of development programmes should introduce performance budgeting. The ARC also recommended the establishment of two special institutions, the Lok Pal to deal with complaints against the administrative acts of Ministers and Secretaries to the government at the Centre and the Lok Ayuktas to deal with such complaints in States.
  3. The Hota Committee recommended that Sections 13 (1) (d) and 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure may be amended to protect honest civil servants from malicious prosecution and harassment. It also recommended that a Code of Ethics should be drawn up for civil servants incorporating the core values of integrity, merit and excellence in public service. Another recommendation of the Hota Committee was that each department should lay down and benchmark services to be delivered, methods of grievance redressal and public evaluation of performance. It also recommended that a Model Code of Governance should be drawn up benchmarking the standards of governance to be made available to the citizens.
  4. The Report of the Group constituted to review the system of Performance Appraisal, Promotion, Empanelment and Placement of the AIS and Other Services (Surinder Nath Committee, 2003) recommended that – performance appraisal should be primarily used for the overall development of an officer and for his/her placement in an area where his/her abilities and potential can be best used.
  5. Only those who can demonstrate a credible record of actual performance and possess the necessary knowledge and skills required for higher responsibilities should be promoted. There is no benefit in retaining officers who lack demonstrated competence, or who are unqualified, or of doubtful moral or financial integrity or who are in unacceptably poor health.
  6. The Hota Committee on Civil Services Reforms, 2004, recommended replacing the ACR with a system of performance assessment in which greater emphasis is placed on objective assessment against agreed work plans.
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