IF there was one area where the bureaucracy was quite efficient, it was in appointments to senior posts, especially ministerial secretaries. Although there were intense, sometimes bloody, tussles for the actual ministries, the names of the individuals were decided much in advance. Most potential bureaucrats knew that they would become a Secretary by a particular year, and so did the DoPT. This system was disrupted a bit three years ago as another layer of control and decision-making—the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)—was added. As the South Block decided to go through the appointments-related files, the process became more complex and layered. It had both its positives and negatives—either the secretaries were appointed much before the existing one retired or left, or much after the due date. It is, therefore, not surprising that the three central departments—administrative reforms and public grievances, corporate affairs, and justice—don’t have full-time secretaries. Naveen Verma, Secretary, development affairs, was given additional charges of administrative reforms and public grievances, and pension and pensioners’ welfare. Subhas Chandra Garg, Secretary, economic affairs, is also in-charge of corporate affairs. And, G Narayana Raju, Secretary, legislative department, was given additional charge of justice. The net effect: potential and deserving secretaries are confused. They are unsure if and when will they get the coveted post, or ride the ultimate bureaucratic horse.