Domain Expertise and the First ARC Report

The first ARC had set out its philosophy on domain expertise as follows:

  • Devising a rational basis to fill policy-making positions with those possessing required qualifications and competence. This would involve an optimum use of different Services for secretariat assignments as also the adoption of special measures to build necessary specializations in the secretariat.
  • Selecting senior management personnel from all relevant sources – generalist and specialist. For the purpose, talent should be identified and nurtured in all the services, specially among those who have not so far been inducted into the higher management positions in the secretariat.
  • Providing greater opportunities to talented personnel to move to higher positions in the civil services on the basis of competence and performance.

The first ARC classified higher civil service posts into two categories: (a) posts in the field, and (b) posts at headquarters. 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 ARC recommended that the IAS should be converted into a functional service. 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

The first ARC recommended a scheme of reforms to enable entry into middle and senior management levels in the Central Secretariat from all Services on the basis of knowledge and experience in the respective areas of specialization. The ARC also indicated, in broad terms, the knowledge and specialization required for staffing posts in each of these areas. The selection of personnel to the eight areas of specialization was to be made through a mid-career competitive examination. All Class I officers belonging to the All-India and Central Services with experience of eight to twelve years in the functional areas would be eligible. The selection process would consist of a written test to be administered by the UPSC and an interview to be conducted by a committee consisting of the Chairman, UPSC and two senior Secretaries of the Government of India. 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 that assigning particular domains to the officers should be a key step for their selection to the Central Staffing Scheme posts. The Group 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. The assignment of domains may be a part of the empanelment process at JS/AS levels which would identify officers for posting to the Government of India at levels of JS and above. Officers due for consideration for empanelment may submit a write-up summarising their experience, academic background, training courses undergone, research accomplishments, recognitions relevant to the domain areas, and significant achievements during their career relevant to their areas. These write-ups may be scrutinised by the Empanelment Committee. The output of the empanelment process would be a list of officers found suitable for selection to specific positions under the Central Staffing Scheme, together with their domain assignments. The Committee also suggested that for the empanelment process, individual batches may be taken up sequentially along with those from the previous batches who are due for review. Thus, there would be a fresh batch to be considered each year and some review batches. Cases of such officers who are not empanelled when their batch is taken up for consideration on the first occasion, may be reviewed twice. 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. It had also recommended that empanelment and posting of Joint Secretaries, Additional Secretaries and Secretaries should be carried out through domain assignment, competitive selection and matching of available skills with the job requirements.