The PMO wants Niti Aayog to become the coordinating body for consultants in ministries, departments and institutions funded by the government.
The Haryana government has placed the services of O.P. Singh, ADGP (human rights and litigation), at the disposal of the chief secretary for further posting. This has led to speculation in babu circles that the senior police officer is set to get a secretary-level post in one of the departments. If this indeed happens, Mr Singh, a 1992-batch IPS officer of the Haryana cadre, will be the second police officer to head a department in the state after Shatrujit Kapoor, who was named to head the state discoms.
Secretary-level posts have traditionally been the preserve of IAS officers and any attempt to post non-IAS officers on these posts is vehemently opposed by the IAS lobby. There were murmurs of protests from the IAS lobby when Mr Kapoor was named.
Will there be similar protests if Mr Singh gets the nod from the state government? So far it has maintained that postings of the All-India service officers was the prerogative of the state government, and that postings are done “on the basis of seniority, aptitude and needs of the administration.”
Old and new faces of BBB
Last month the government initiated a much-required reorganisation of the banking sector by appointing former IAS officer Bhanu Pratap Sharma as the new chief of the Bank Board Bureau (BBB), replacing former comptroller and auditor general of India, Vinod Rai. Some were surprised when Mr Rai did not find a place in the reconstituted bureau given that he was a favourite of the government.
Mr Sharma has been a former secretary at the department of personnel and training (DoPT) as well as health. He has also been chairman, recruitment and assessment centre, at the DRDO. The other members of the reconstituted BBB are Vedika Bhandarkar, former MD, Credit Suisse India, P. Pradeep Kumar, former MD of State Bank of India, and Pradip P. Shah, founder MD of ratings agency Crisil, who returns for a second stint. He is an alumnus of Harvard Business School. Together, the members of the reconstituted BBB have “diverse experience” which should serve the board well as it seeks to get the government implement its recommendations. They have been tasked with the appointment of senior-level positions at state-run banks.
However, it now appears that the government is reviewing the appointment of P. Pradeep Kumar amid concerns about his links to a company given loans by a major private sector bank. Until the investigations are completed, the uncertainty surrounding his appointment will remain.
Niti Aayog’s new task
Hiring consultants by Central ministries and departments just got harder. The PMO wants Niti Aayog to become the coordinating body for consultants in ministries, departments and institutions funded by the government. All ministries will now have to hire consultants through the think-tank.
According to sources, the Niti Aayog received a note from the principal secretary to the PM, Nripendra Misra, suggesting that there was a need to streamline data pertaining to such appointments. Subsequently, the Niti Aayog has written to all ministries and departments asking them to submit data on consultants working with them and to explain whether there is any “conflict of interest”.
Interestingly, the think-tank itself has hired external consultants to strengthen its workforce. Still, the bottom line is that the Central government departments may no longer enjoy the current autonomy in hiring private consultants. Most government departments hire consultants either specifically for a project or for general brainstorming. That may no longer be possible, the PMO, has clearly indicated.