Difference Between Civil Servant and Public Servant

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The concept of Civil Servant and Public Servant

Civil servant and public servant, both the designation sounds identical in general. People often get confuse between civil servant and public servant and treat both as same. But there are vital differences between them. Both the civil servant and public servant works for the government. When civil servants are the officials hired by the government for its different ministries for the proper implementation of government policies and programs, whereas public servants are designated or elected member of the government for social or public services.

All about Civil Servant


A civil servant can be well-defined as an employee selected for different ministries of the government. The scope of civil servant differ from one country to another. For example, in the United Kingdom, only national government employees who are known as crown employees are called as civil servants. Parliamentary employees or local government employees does not come under civil servant in the United Kingdom. In the United States, only civilian workforce of the various departments and agencies of the government are called civil servant. For example the non-elected bureaucrats who help the government, non-military employees and the officials who work in public sectors  are comes under civil servant in the Unites States of America. In India, Civil servants are the officials who are selected by Union Public Service Commission at the union level for government department to offer his/her services for the government and general public. Every state has its own Public Service Commission to select civil servants at state level.

Selection Process

The civil servants are the officials hired on professional merits. They are selected through a competitive examination followed by interview. To be a civil servant one should possess required educational and professional qualifications. Civil servants are employees who are usually experts or professionals in their fields. Every country has its own recruitment system for the civil services and they are conceived of and are beneficial to the requirements of that country.

Duties and responsibilities

The prime responsibilities of Civil servant are to serve their ministers with honesty and to the best of their ability.

  • The civil servant perform specific roles and responsibilities set by the minister under which he / she works, which in return help their department to run the administration properly.
  • A Civil servant is answerable to the head of the ministries under which he/ she works and the head of the ministries is answerable to the parliament for the conduct of his department.
  • The duty of the civil servant is to give loyal, professional and non-partisan support to the minister.
  • The main responsibility of a public servants is to provide assistance and information to ministers and to implement the guidelines given by ministers sincerely.
  • The civil servants are paid by the government for their service.

All about Public servant


A common definition of a public servant is a person who makes public well-being and serves the general public directly. But technically a public servant is an individual who is employed by the government, either by appointment or election to provide public service to people living within its jurisdiction. Hence every person who is a chief executive of, or a statutory officer or employee in, a Department in the Public Service is a public servant. The range of public servant is very vast. The term public servant include the officials  of the co-operative societies administered by  the government, the employees of government universities, Public Service Commission etc., The officials who are elected such as  legislators, judges of the court, mayors and governors are comes under the umbrella of public servants. Public servant position include officials of police department, firefighters, Commissioned Officer in the Military, Naval or Air Forces and so on.

Selection process

To be a public servants, one need to go through a specific examination to prove their merits. For some specific post there is a prescribed age limit. But not all the public servant need to pass an examination. In some cases, public servants can be elected or appointed, depending on the jurisdiction.

For example political parties appoint the governors and mayors not on the basis of merit or by doing examination but on the basis of the candidate’s experience or their closeness with the political leaders. The selection process for high positions like members and heads of various commissions and corporations administered by the government are not transparent.

But to be a public servant in institution like police department, the Volunteer Fire Department, officer of a Court of Justice or judges,  in public education department, Emergency services, Environmental protection, Health care, Military, Postal service, Public bank etc. one need to go through a due process of selection and evaluation for the job.

Duties and responsibilities

Public servants play an important role in society.

  • The sole responsibility of a public servant is to implement the government’s decisions, policies and programs and provide high quality services to general public by utilising the state’s resources and finance.
  • They are dedicated to the highest degrees of honesty and to deliver the best administration possible to the public.
  • The objective of public servant is to encourage the public trust in the democratic system by serving the public with topmost priority.
  • They serve the general public directly as representative of the government.
  • The public servants are paid for the service they rendered to general public by the government.

Key differences between civil servant and public servant

1)      Civil Servant works closely with ministers to formulate policies and help them to accomplish their goal.
2)      Civil servants are answerable to the ministers under which they work.
3)      Civil servant provides direct services for Government through its ministries. 4)      Civil servant can be called as public servant as he executes government policies for the improvement of the public.5)      Civil servants are highly knowledgeable in their respective field of work.
6)      A civil servant if required can work in a public services company. 

7)      A civil servant can be upheld into a higher position by his higher authority.
8)      Civil servant helps the minister to formulate laws and rules.



1)      Public servant work closely with the general public and help the government to achieve their goal.
2)      Public servants are answerable to the general public directly.3)      Public servant works for agencies and association governed by government to provide non-profit service to the citizen.4)      Public servant directly provide service to people by implementing government policies. 

5)      Public services is based on works that are executor in nature.
6)      A public servant cannot work in the civil service sector.
7)      A public servant like Mayor or Governor cannot receive a promotion.
8)      Public servant executes the law and rules and help the government and public directly.




Both civil servant and public servant work for the government directly or indirectly to formulate rules and regulations and execute the same for the development of the citizen of the country as a whole. Both public and civil servants work to develop the quality of society and public welfare.

Author: Nirupama

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