Lateral Entry into bureaucracy

  • IASbaba
  • March 2, 2021
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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  • GS-2: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive 
  • GS-2: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications 

Lateral Entry into bureaucracy

Context: UPSC has recently issued an advertisement seeking applications from individuals, who would make a “lateral entry” into the government secretariat.

Key features of Lateral Entry Advertisement

  • Vacancies: Three posts of Joint Secretary and 27 of Director in central government 
  • Time Period: These jobs would be contracted for three to five years. 
  • The basic qualification for a Joint Secretary lateral entrant is 15 years of work experience, and for Directors it is 10 years of work experience.
  • Reservations: These posts were “unreserved”, meaning were no quotas for SCs, STs and OBCs.

What is ‘lateral entry’ into government?

  • The term lateral entry relates to the appointment of specialists, mainly those from private sector, in government organisations.
  • These ‘lateral entrants’ would be part of the central secretariat which in the normal course has only career bureaucrats from the All India Services/ Central Civil Services
  •  Niti Aayog Recommendation: NITI Aayog, in its three-year Action Agenda, and the Sectoral Group of Secretaries (SGoS) on Governance in its report submitted in February 2017, recommended the induction of personnel at middle and senior management levels in the central government. 

What is the government’s reasoning for lateral entry?

  • Domain Expertise: The government’s idea is to bring in domain expertise from the private sector to the Central administration which helps address the complexity of present day administration
  • Augments the availability of manpower: The government also faces a shortage of IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officers working on deputation in the Centre, this option of lateral entrants will help address this problem.
  • To induct competitiveness: Another objective of inducting specialists is to improve efficiency and create competition in governance delivery which is criticised for being status-quoist and conservative in its functioning.
  • Aligned with Liberalisation Policy:  After liberalisation in 1991, markets are playing critical role in administration. In such environment, regulatory capacity of govt. is critical which depend upon the up to date knowledge of administrators, which require fresh intake from private sector.
  • Participatory Governance: In the present times governance is becoming more participatory and multi actor endeavour, thus lateral entry provides stakeholders such as the private sector and non-profits an opportunity to participate in governance process.

Has the government so far made any ‘lateral entry’ appointments?

  • The new ad is for the second round of such recruitments. Earlier, the government had decided to appoint experts from outside the government to 10 positions of Joint Secretary in different Ministries/Departments and 40 positions at the level of Deputy Secretary/Director.
  • The ad for the Joint Secretary-level appointments, issued in early 2018, attracted 6,077 applications; after a selection process by the UPSC, nine individuals were recommended for appointment in nine different Ministries/Departments in 2019.

Why is lateral entry sometimes criticised?

  • Lack of Reservation: Groups representing SCs, STs and OBCs have protested the fact that there is no reservation in these appointments.
  • Issue of transparency: The key to the success of lateral entry would lie in selecting the right people in a manner which is open and transparent. The selection process conducted by credible Constitutional body like UPSC partly address this problem.
  • Incoherence in Value System: Private sector approach is profit oriented on the other hand motive of Government is public service. This is also a fundamental transition that a private sector person has to make while working in government.
  • Internal Resistance: Lateral entry is faces resistance from serving Civil Servants who would have worked within the system for years and in line for occupying such top level posts. A lateral entry can thus be met with resistance from the existing bureaucrats
  • Conflict of interest: The movement from private sector raises issues of potential conflict of interest. This issue requires stringent code of conduct for entrants from private sectors to ensure conflict of interest is not detrimental to public good.
  • Lack of specific criteria: The criteria laid out in the advertisement were broad-based, and so failed to provide a narrow window to attract people of eminence or domain experts in the fields advertised for.
  • Lack of Institutionalised Process: Lateral entry is being done on temporary and ad hoc basis. This cannot be a sustainable model of human resource management. 


  • An intensive training program for entrants from the private sector to civil services need to be formulated which help them understanding the complex nature of work in Government.
  • There is also a need to institutionalize the process of induction of outside talent into the government.

Connecting the dots:

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