Vacancies in Secretariat a cause for concern

More than 150 Under Secretary posts are lying vacant

Several vacancies in various departments housed on the Secretariat campus in Chennai have become a cause for concern.

It is said that the vacancies were causing delays even as the government is racing against time to clear all the files ahead of the Assembly election. Most of the vacancies are of Under Secretary and Deputy Secretary posts in various departments.

Though the sanctioned strength of Under Secretaries is around 240 in 36 State government departments (in what is known as ‘one unit’, excluding the Finance and the Law Departments), more than 150 posts are vacant.

“The Under Secretaries are also posted as Public Information Officers [PIOs] for giving replies to RTI Act queries. Since about 70%-75% of posts are vacant, the response to RTI applications are also delayed,” said a section officer.

Section officers are not promoted as Under Secretaries. The promotion of typists, assistants and assistant section officers have also been affected as the Under Secretary posts have not been filled.

Another officer said certain litigation relating to the issue were pending in court, despite over 60 hearings.

“Only because the government extended the services of government employees by one more year with effect from last year, some Under-Secretaries are still in service. If not for the announcement, there would have been more vacancies,” he added. When contacted, a senior official told The Hindu that the government was not able to fill these vacancies due to the pending litigation.

However, instructions have been issued to the Personnel and Administrative Reforms Department to promote these (litigating) section officers to the Under Secretary posts, subject to the outcome of the case.

“However, we could not do the same for Deputy Secretary posts, since only a few positions are vacant and there are multiple claimants for each of these posts,” the official added.

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