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Board-level positions in CPSEs: PESB initiates structural changes in the selection process

By Rakesh Ranjan - 29 Aug 2020
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Before demitting his office as PESB Chairman and moving to the Election Commission, Rajiv Kumar (retd IAS:1984:JH) on 27 August proposed crucial changes to the selection process for CPSE chiefs (CMD/MD) and functional directors (Director) with a view to expanding the talent pool with pace and parity. It is supposed that it may prove to be a departure from the ambiguous and painful past and may bring more clarity in the selection process.

Aspirants for Board-level positions in Central PSUs were dismayed by the procedural reforms made during the Chairmanship of Ajit Kumar Seth and Sanjay Kothari. Instead of simplifying the shortlisting and selection process, it had made things complicated rather.

On 27 August a draft, Suggestive Reforms Proposal was uploaded on the PESB website inviting suggestions/comments (by 30.09.2020) from all stakeholders. Insiders and many prospective candidates have welcomed it.

The proposed reforms aim to simplify and rationalize the selection process for attracting better talents from all sectors and widen the pool. It also aims at leveling the playing field for applicants, standardizing the Job Description, increasing the slots for shortlisting, standardizing eligibility criteria, modifying the short-listing criteria, and above all faster processing of confirmation and extension of tenure by mandating the filing of APARs online, etc.

According to the proposed changes, interviews for all jobs of Chairman and MDs of a group of PSUs or Directors for particular segment e.g. HR, Finance, Marketing Projects, Business Development, Strategy, etc may begin simultaneously at the start of a year, instead of looking for candidates for individual companies separately.

Irrespective of the categories of the PSUs (whether falling in Schedule A or Schedule B), all posts may be advertised together and candidates for these companies will be recommended at one go.

Based on the interviews, the PESB will make its recommendations/merit-list to the government which will appoint the candidates based on their performances in the interview and those scoring highest will get the company of their choice.

In a way, it may have similarities with the merit-list or empanelment. This may begin the era of departing from the rigorous, repetitive, and time-consuming process of inviting applications, shortlisting of candidates, and interviews for each Board-level position separately, and repeated vigilance and requisite clearances. 

Indianmandarins has reliably learned that the proposed reforms would emphasize on 21 points that would make the process convenient for aspiring candidates.

Indianmandarins has further learned that new rules may eliminate those aspiring applicants from the shortlisting process whose vigilance report is adverse or those who are on the ODI list - an informally maintained confidential list of ‘Officers with Doubtful Integrity’

Reportedly, the new provisions would make it mandatory for the CVOs to ensure updated online vigilance reports on senior officers to facilitate the new process.

Reforming the PSUs and manning them with competent officials have become urgent in view of the role played by them in the national economy.

Public Enterprises Survey 2018-19, 59th in the series, gives a consolidated picture of the Performance of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) which are spread over length and breadth of the country. As of 31st March 2019, there were 339 CPSEs with a total investment of Rs. 16,40,628 crore; that certainly adds to the self-reliance of the Indian economy.  

The draft Suggestive Reforms Proposal (uploaded on the PESB website) inviting suggestions/comments from all stakeholders by 30.09.2020 also indicate that the proposed reforms may take time to realize but once approved and formalized may bring a shy of relief to the aspirants for Board level positions.

(By Rakesh Ranjan )

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