Atul Sarma after completing tenure of Vice-Chancellor, Rajiv Gandhi University, Itanagar, became a Member, Thirteenth Finance Commission till February 2010. Thereafter he was ICSSR Mahatma Gandhi National Fellow for two years (2011-12). He is also Chairman, OKD Institute for Social Change and Development, Guwahati. Previously, he was Professor of Economics and Head, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi Centre, Professor at Sardar Patel Institute of Economic and Social Research, Ahmedabad, a Post-doctoral Fellow at MIT, Cambridge, USA.

He served as an independent Director of Steel Authority of India Limited, as Economic Advisor to the Eighth and the Tenth Finance Commission and as a Consultant to several international agencies such as ADB, FAO, ESCAP, IDRC and UNIDO. He was a Member of Technology Development Board, Assam and Manipur State Planning Boards. He was Chairman, ICSSR Institutes (South Zone) Review Committee and on various committees constituted by the Union and State governments, and by other agencies such as the Planning Commission, UGC and ICSSR. He was also Chairman, National Commission on Statistics constituted Committee on Optimum Sample Sizes for North Eastern States.

He was President, Indian Econometric Society. Besides contributing over 100 articles in various Indian and International journals and edited volumes, he published singly or jointly several books including Unfolding  Crisis in Assam’s Tea Plantations, Exploring Indo-ASEAN Economic Partnership in Globalising World; Meeting the Challenges to the European Union: Prospects Indian Exports; Revenue and Expenditure Projections (edited); Economic Impact of Government Expenditure: A Study in Input-Output Framework and Regional Variations in Industrial Development.