16 Years of Education Mandatory to Appear in CSS
ISLAMABAD: As the civil service reforms plan continues to develop, the government has decided to streamline the structure of the service and eliminate superfluous levels while also mandating at least 16 years of education for new candidates seeking careers in civil service.
The final set of recommendations that will be presented to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif requires candidates who register for the Civil Superior Services (CSS) examinations to have at least 16 years of education. The plan also includes abolition of the Grade 21 post of additional secretary and the Grade 19 post of deputy secretary.
At Grade 20 of the Basic Pay Scale (used by the government to determine compensation and rank among bureaucrats), a National Executive Service (NES) Group will be set up through the competitive process. However, the timeline to form the NES remains elusive. The NES will be offered a special salary package besides better career progression.
“There is a need to follow the army model to weed out the deadwoods in bureaucracy,” said Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal. Impressed by the military’s system, Iqbal said the civilian bureaucracy should also think of establishing schools like the Army Public School system, aimed at giving quality education to their children at an affordable price. Iqbal said the purpose of the 16-year education requirement is to improve the quality and standards of the bureaucracy. The maximum age-limit for appearing in the CSS exams has been left unchanged at 28 years.
The government has proposed abolishing the posts of additional secretary and deputy secretary, aimed at reducing the hierarchical structure of the civilian bureaucracy, according to the draft recommendations.
Grade 17 and 18 officers will be section officers, then there will be Grade 20 joint secretaries, followed by the highest Grade 22 of federal secretaries. The government did not explain what will be the fate of existing Grade 21 officers.
There is also a proposal to reduce the size of government by cutting down the number of ministries and divisions.
Another proposal seeks constitutional guarantees under performance contracts for prescribed posting tenures aimed at minimising political influence on the bureaucracy. The government also wants to give due weight to specialisation in the selection of cadres for specific service groups. The selection will be made through cluster examinations of the candidates. This would involve creating special service cadres that include engineers, information technology experts, agriculturists, educationists, health administrators, and financial analysts. Officers will also be provided official laptops.
There was also a proposal to convene an all parties’ conference on civil service reforms aimed at seeking wider political ownership.
In order to steer the reforms and track implementation, a committee comprising a federal minister and secretaries will meet on a quarterly basis.
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