New Delhi: In an attempt to infuse fresh talent in the bureaucracy, the Centre has decided to appoint experts from outside for 40 posts in its various ministries and departments. The appointments, agreed to in principle, would be on the level of deputy secretary and director, said reports on Thursday.

Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said, in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, that while the proposal had been cleared in
principle, “no final decision has been taken in the matter”.

The Minister also replied in the negative about reservation for officers hired through lateral entry. He said the issue “does not arise” because the idea behind lateral recruitment was to infuse fresh talent and also add to the manpower availability.

The proposal to appoint domain experts at the middle management level of the Central government is based on recommendations of Niti Aayog’s three-year action agenda and report of a group of secretaries submitted in February 2017 for lateral entry of personnel at the middle and senior management level in the government. In that report, the think-tank had said it was essential that specialists be roped into the system through lateral entry on a fixed-term contract.

Earlier, UPSC had also recommended nine candidates for appointment as joint secretaries in the Central government through lateral entry. Last June, the government had invited applications for ten posts of joint secretaries in different ministries under the ‘lateral entry’ scheme in a bid to attract talent from public and private sectors.

The lateral entry mode, which allows for the appointment of specialists from the private sector in government organisations, is seen as an ambitious step of the Modi government.

The Government has fiercely defended its decision. Even last year, in a written reply to Lok Sabha, MoS Singh had said the Government had decided lateral recruitment of ten Joint Secretaries on contract basis for fresh talent.

He had said that it wouldn’t be for the first time that something like this would happen. There had been lateral recruitment of some prominent persons to man specific assignments from time to time, he had said.

“This includes, among others, the appointment of Manmohan Singh, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Vijay Kelkar, Bimal Jalan, Shankar Acharya, Rakesh Mohan, Arvind Virmani, Arvind Panagariya, Arvind Subramanian and Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, Parameswaran Iyer and Ram Vinay Shahi. No adverse effect on the morale of the civil servants has resulted from lateral recruitments,” he had said.