Tuesday, September 29, 2015

NEW DELHI: Railways has kicked off a restructuring exercise with the intent of pruning additional officers in the 'top-heavy' organization by appointing a private firm Deloitte which will suggest ways to right size its manpower of gazetted officers.

With the hiring of a private HR audit firm, the national transporter has taken the first step in its bold decision to rationalize staff strength. Other private companies in contention were Ernst and Young, PWC and KPMG.

The national transporter, which is the biggest government employer with around 13.36 lakh workers on its payroll, employs 18,000 gazetted officers.

Deloitte, which will work in coordination with National Academy of Indian Railways, Vadodara, will submit its report by March 2016. The private firm will study the functioning of various departments in zonal and divisional headquarters of railways with focus on technological inputs and achievements made in each department.

It will also take up study of reduction of workload on account of outsourcing of activities. An official said the company will examine the railways' manpower given the technological development/changes in operational and maintenance practices and suggest optimal level of staff strength needed in coming years.

The company is tasked with estimation of an optimum strength of gazzeted officers required for effective discharge of duties to achieve the transporter's goal. Several independent expert committees have observed that staff cost (including pension) is the single most significant expenditure item for the railways, accounting for the lion's share of total expenditure and have suggested rationalizing the number of employees.

Railways has over the years become overly centralized, top heavy and hierarchical and allegedly suffering from 'departmentalism'. The Bibek Debroy panel had suggested immediate intervention to right-size the railways' bench strength which is eating up the cash-strapped transporter's resources.

"The employee costs including pension constitute the single largest component of railways, which has further become unmanageable after the sixth pay commission. The seventh pay commission in 2016 would further push up staff costs and pension costs which will have serious financial implications for railways," the panel said.

It noted that the present railway board is saddled with excess manpower with total staff strength of 1,107 officers.

It noted that there are seven members, two director generals (DG, health and DG, RPF), one secretary, 16 additional members, 21 advisors, 94 executive directors, 200 directors/JDs, 250 DDs/USs and 516 section officers.

Railways is divided into 16 geographical zones employing about 14 lakh people. At a later stage, railways will also hire a reputed consultant to examine the strength in non-gazetted section to study the system and requirement and see if there is any extra flab, said a senior official.


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