The Indian Railways are one of the oldest working organizations in India. The department of railways consists of various divisions like operations, management, maintenance, human resources, stores, and many more. Handling the financial and accounting aspects of all these departments for smooth functioning is the quintessential task of IRAS officers. The IRAS is a group A cadre service under the civil services governed by UPSC. As discussed earlier, the entire accounting and financial operations of the Indian Railways are managed efficiently by IRAS officers.
The IRAS cadre came into being only after the year 1929. It was at this juncture that the government realized a separate department to look into the financial aspects of the Indian Railways and gave birth to IRAS. Until then, the public works department of the Indian Railways also took charge of the accounting and financial matters.
Later they were bifurcated, and the financial responsibility took from the PWD. This move was considered by the government to bring in a surge of efficiency, transparency in bureaucracy, and better governance with growing expansions of the Indian railways.
In the current day, recruitment for the IRAS through civil services examination is conducted by the UPSC, just like other civil service examinations.
Aspirants looking to get into the services have to attempt the civil service examination conducted by UPSC every year on an All India basis. They have to clear the prelims round, mains round, and the interview/personality test round. After successfully clearing all three rounds, the list of finally selected candidates will be published. In the order of merit and ranking, candidates will be awarded their posting for various services and cadres. In this article, we discuss the various information related to IRAS officers like their recruitment and training, postings offered, their roles and responsibilities, career progression through the span of many years, pay scales, etc.
Training offered to selected IRAS candidates
The training for IRAS officers extends into a comprehensive course for about 90 weeks. During this period, they are trained on a host of subject-specific and general modules ranging from accounting, financial operations, management, public policy development initiatives, governance, applying these concepts in the context of railways, understanding the functioning of railway departments, etc.
Let us understand their training in detail
- Successful candidates have first to undergo the common training provided to all civil services at the Lal Bahadur Shastry National Academy for administration (LBSNAA). Mussourie.
- Soon after the general training, specialized training commences. The first wing of training is held at the National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) at Vadodara. This is later followed in succession by training probationers at National Academy for Direct Taxes (NADT), which is in Nagpur. After the two levels of specialized training, they are sent to the National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM) located in Faridabad. This completes the second level of training, which is specialized for these probationary officers.
- Next, after imparting accounting and financial modules to the probationers, they are given intensive training in executive management at the Indian Institute of Management (Calcutta). This is a 12-week program.
- Later, probationers are called in for a higher level management Development Program. This is conducted for a total duration of 8 weeks at the Management Development Institute (MDI) located at Gurgaon.
Soon after the conclusion of the training program, candidates will receive their posting to various railways divisions and units concerned with their cadre. They are also posted to PSUs that have a role and functionality in railways accounting and financial operations. At various levels, these officers are allocated a different range of postings, including:
- Financial advisors and Chief Account Officers at zonal levels.
- They take in charge as Divisional Finance Managers at the Division level offices.
- Under the purview of Divisional Railway Managers and General Managers, they are inducted as account officers and executives in the initial roles.
These officers climb to higher roles as they increase in their grades and look into the affairs and functioning of railways.
Officers are posted to various departments to handle various sections of responsibilities including operations, marketing strategies, economic policy formulations and development strategies, managing human resources and taking care of employee well being, public and private partnership research and policy implementations, information systems handling and managing that are specific to Indian railways, division of strategy creation, implementation and management, training candidates for higher roles, induction and collaborative raining for railways staff from time to time, inducting personnel for various vacancies that may arise from time to time.
Starting from the junior time scale role, a probationary officer climbs the role of a financial commissioner, the highest allocated grade for this cadre.
Roles and Responsibilities of IRAS Officer
IRAS officers provide varied responsibilities in their tasks. They are of utmost importance in duty as they are the chief account managers and financial onlookers of the Indian railways. They have to perform to the fullest of their responsibilities for the smooth and efficient functioning of one of India’s largest and oldest organizations. Some of their prominent functionalities include:
- Budget allocation and management.
- Planning and controlling expenditures of their respective departments.
- Accounting for the earnings and expenditures created and gained by the departments.
- Execution of proposals and tenders. Financial scrutiny in matters of accounting and record keeping.
- Marking all investments and studying them for further collaborations and actions.
- Conducting financial analysis and reviews of every department for ensuring smooth transactions within the department.
- Reviewing inventory, managing stocks, keeping fund options open, and managing various fund sources and resource allocation.
- Customer service, handling any legal issues and settlements.
The following tabulation provides complete details about officers with respect to their grades and seniority.
|Grade or role allocated to IRAS officers||Designation in area of work as Field officer||Designation commissioned in Headquarters for the officer|
|Junior time scale officer||Can be designated as Assistant divisional accounts officer||Officer Designation role as Junior accounts officer. Also designated as Workshop Accounts Officer|
|Senior time scale officer||Can be designated as Divisional accounts officer||Officer Designation role as Deputy director|
|Junior administrative grade officer||Can be designated as Sr. divisional accounts officer. He can also serve as the Deputy Financial advisor & Chief accounts officer.||Officer Designation role as Joint Director|
|Selection grade officer||Can be designated as Sr. divisional accounts officer. He can also serve as the Deputy Financial advisor & Chief accounts officer.||Officer Designation role as Director|
|Senior administrative grade officer||Can be designated as Financial advisor & Chief accounts officer.||Officer Designation role as Executive director|
|Higher administrative grade officer||Can be designated as Coordinating financial advisor & Chief accounts officer.||Officer Designation role as Additional member of the Railway Board.|
|Higher grade officers||No specific role allotted in field.||Specific and single functionary role as Financial Commissioner, Department of Railways, Government of India.|
The basic pay scales of IRAS officers range between INR 8000 to INR 26000. The perks and allowances, according to their ranking and grades, differ with every higher grade. These include rental allowances, house pay allowances, and other travel allowances too. Also, grade pay is allotted with promotion to every higher rank in the grade list.