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Do we require a Scientific Administrative Service in Sri Lanka ?

By Ponnampalam Kulendiren (

One time Ceylon Civil Service (CCS) and now the SLAS is dominated by graduates from arts faculty, with little or no technical background. Many of these recruits to SLAS become the heads of departments or secretaries to the ministries such as Post & Telecom, Agriculture, Meteorology, Power and Irrigation, Water Supply , Buildings & Roads, Transport, Defence, Health.

When we look at these ministries and the departments covered by the ministries, it is evident that they are associated with Technology or Science. As many secretaries and heads of departments and even Government Agents have no technical background on the specific areas of the departments, they mainly depend on the advice of the Deputy head or director, who is normally a Technical or Scientific person, to make decisions. These secretaries lack quick understanding of the issues concerned with the Technical projects and its Technical impact on the society. For a moment carry out a survey on the question "how many of SLAS officers are aware of Internet or E.Mail service ?" The results for this survey is left to the readers to assess. Few examples of outcome of not having at Technical ir scientific knowledge are sighted below.

Many of these administrative heads depend on protocols, bureaucracy, FR & AR, precedence and political outcome. They lack analytical and far sighted thinking on Technical projects. They fail to compare all possible Technical options and the latest Technology available that could be applied to optimize benefits to the society and the country as a whole, within the available resources. What is the solution to this problem?. Is there a need to restructure the Sri Lanka Administrative service? or are we to continue driving the old car, repairing and painting it as and when need arises?. It is true that there will be objections from various unions as SLAS is considered as a prestigious service. The question is are we considering Prestige and Power or the service to the society and country's economy as priority. If it is the latter then the SLAS definitely needs restructuring with focus on Science and Technology.

The departments and ministries which fall into this group have to be identified first and the top positions to these ministries and departments have to be filled with graduates with Technical or scientific background. There is also need to train these Technical recruits in Business Management, Operational Research & Statistical Analysis, Costing & Financial accounting, Project management, Decision Making, Communication , presentation , computer skills and Marketing before assigning specific jobs. A three year Training plan should make them practical, administrative and analytical minded Technocrats useful to the Sri Lankan Society. They should be financially rewarded for their knowledge on all areas and should be trained to be the builders of a strong , effective Sri Lankan society irrespective of Caste, Religion, Race, Language and Politics. Can this dream be achieved?. Sri Lanka do it ?

Senior Telecom Consultant
Dallas, Texas.

04 June 1997 18:51:52

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