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As PSU privatisation gains steam, hiring for CPSE board set for overhaul

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on August 28, 2020

Before heading for Nirvachan Sadan to assume office as election commissioner, after a short stint helming the government’s head-hunting agency, Rajeev Kumar -- a former union finance secretary, has proposed sweeping reforms in the way Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) picks board level officials to run central public sector enterprises.

The broad spectrum of reforms include: simplifying and rationalising the selection process, attracting better talent from all sectors, providing a level playing field to applicants, standardising the job description for all identical posts by setting uniform qualification keeping 5 years’ experience for all posts across all CPSEs, increasing the slots for short-listing, allowing fungibility of vacant slots across categories to ensure slots are not left vacant, standardising the eligibility criteria by adopting one-year service in the eligible grade for all candidates from CPSE’s, modifying the short-listing criteria, faster processing of confirmation and extension of tenure, avoiding repetitive interviews amongst the same pool and allowing movement of board level executives among CPSE’s of same schedule/cognate group.

Most of these changes are aimed at promoting competition, transparency, bringing about parity, and infusing talent from outside and creating field for applicants across different categories to address the issue of limited talent and empowering CPSE’s with strong leadership.

CPSE posts are proposed to be grouped based on Schedule A and B together, and Schedule C and D together by clubbing these posts across each cognate groups. Standardisation of job descriptions across CPSEs of same cognate group, according to domains (Finance, HR, Marketing).

Eligibility criteria

In line with the government’s policy of zero tolerance towards corruption, applicant during currency of minor/major punishment as on the date of advertisement inviting applications will not be considered for shortlisting.

Besides, the eligibility criteria for state public sector enterprises/private candidates linked to annual turnover of the company is proposed to be relaxed to attract larger talent pool.

All Central government services including autonomous bodies, unorganised services/government Companies (as defined in Indian Companies Act, 2013) may be permitted to be included in the slot earmarked for government.

The upper age limit for all posts in CPSEs both for internal category and other categories is proposed to be 57 years of age where the retirement age is 60 years and 55 years where the retirement age is 58 years.

“Interaction with bright candidates during my short PESB tenure reiterated my belief in strength of CPSE’s who can be engines of growth if challenges are addressed. Putting a premium on integrity and merit in appointments assumes criticality, hence slew of reforms proposed,” Kumar tweeted on Friday.

With about ₹25.43 lakh crore as FY19 turnover and about ₹11.8 lakh crore as net worth, additional leveraging can fund capital expansion and add about 2-3 per cent to the GDP, he said.

“Please rise to the occasion,” Kumar tweeted while exhorting executives of CPSE’s to think strategic, synergise talent and resources amongst themselves.

Data from 218 selection meetings for CPSE’s board posts held between April 2017 and August 2018 revealed that the PESB could make recommendations only in 166 cases for CMD/MD/ Director Levels.

Of 52 interviews, PESB could not find suitable candidates. In 46 selection meetings-- no one was selected, while in 6 meetings-- none appeared.

Whereas in 6 instances, selection was made with single candidate interviewed.

The internal category quota of 6 was full in only 61(28 per cent) cases while the average number of candidates interviewed per post was about 5.5.

One of the main contributing factors for this was limited selection pool leading to shortlisting of six or less candidates as against 12 permissible shortlisting for each vacancy.

“The reforms will ensure only best and brightest get the opportunity to helm the CPSE’s,” Kumar said in a separate tweet.

Published on August 28, 2020

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