THE Goa government’s decision to set up a common staff selection commission for making recruitments of government staff in Group C and Group D categories for all departments might not be to the liking of many political leaders and officers. First of all, it takes the powers of conducting the recruitment process away from individual departments. The government plans to recruit 800 to 1000 candidates for all departments annually through the staff selection commission. Hitherto, the practice was that every department would advertise posts it intended to fill up and make the selection of candidates. Government employment is sought after by Goan youth for job security, light ten-to-five job and retirement pensions. MLAs are under pressure from young persons in their constituency to get government jobs for them. The MLAs, who have found this desire a good field to capitalize on for securing loyal votes, have been known to misuse their offices to get as many young persons from their constituencies into government jobs as possible. If the MLAs happen to occupy ministerial offices, it becomes easier for them to oblige constituents and get them indebted to vote for them. In some cases, the MLA’s influence might not be enough, and the candidates have to pay a bribe to the persons in decision making positions for recruitments.
Will the setting up of a common staff selection commission bring the lobbying and influencing by MLAs and bribing to an end? In theory, yes. The commission will be given responsibility to make the selection. The names and qualifications and career record of the chairperson and members of the commission would be known to the candidates. They will be given clear roles and responsibilities and authorized to make selections. Should a rejected candidate wish to file a complaint about recruitment procedure or favours shown to any candidate he or she will file it against the chairperson and members of the commission – in other words, the commission collectively. The chairperson and members of the commission would be fully conscious of their accountability in this regard. The chances of ministers and MLAs influencing recruitments would thus be reduced.
Obviously the government’s role does not end with the setting up of a common staff selection commission. The government must recruit persons with experience, expertise, knowledge and integrity as chairperson and members of the commission. Even if one appointment is made on the commission of someone with a dubious reputation, the commission’s recruitments would be looked on with suspicion. The second thing the government must do is not to allow a department to advertise for posts through the commission without exploring the possibility of making better use of the existing staff. Efficiency is a major problem in government departments. While there are areas where the work load is more and employees are less in number, there are other areas where more employees exist than needed if the efficiency formula is strictly applied. A department should be allowed to make recruitments only in areas where the performance of the department and speed and quality of public service is being adversely affected. Thirdly, every department before advertising should evaluate its existing employees to see if any of them can be shifted or promoted internally to fill the vacancy.
Fourthly, the department must lay down a clear job profile. In the existing procedure there is room for tailoring the job profile to suit a particular candidate a minister or MLA or top officer wants to favour. There was also room for vested interests to add new conditions and information during the recruitment process. With a staff selection commission, we hope there would be clear job profiles in order to make the recruitment process fair and transparent. The job applicants would know all requirements and responsibilities of the job position from the advertisement. To ensure objectivity in selection, the commission must shortlist only those candidates who best meet the requirements according to the job criteria. The commission should reinforce objectivity by devising a scoring system which uses different methods to help it differentiate between a number of candidates who demonstrate a similar level of experience and expertise. As written examinations are going to be decisive, it is all the more necessary to establish a scoring system that only selects the best and eliminates the next best. Group C and Group D employees include staff such as accountant, technical assistant, data entry operator and the unskilled ones. They do not make policy or decisions but they play a significant role as the support system which must work efficiently to deliver quality public service. Selecting the right candidates for these posts is therefore very crucial to the promise of good governance.