The department of personnel and training has written a note to the Cabinet seeking to stop the direct recruitment of section officers.
The move is expected to give a push to the downsizing of government staff at the middle-level.
The step is significant because it is first such measure taken by the Centre to put a brake on the size of the bureaucracy, after the setting up of the Expenditure Reforms Commission in 2000.
Terminating the practice of recruiting directly through the combined civil services examination would reduce unnecessary increase in the number of such officers at the Centre, officials said.
About 30 per cent of the 3.49 million central government employees are officers. This includes those in the Indian Administrative Service and other all-India and central services. There are about 10,000 section officers at present.
The move to stop direct recruitment of section officers will also create a visible demonstration effect among other services to renew their downsizing drives.
The existing surplus cell under the department of personnel and training, modified on the basis of the ERC recommendations, has been targeting only the non-executive Group III and IV staff.
A high-level committee, under the chairmanship of the additional secretary (pension) in the department of personnel and training, which reported on the cadre structure of the CSS in February 2002, had suggested stoppage of direct recruitment in section officers