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Discuss the Secretariat Directorate Relationship Patterns.

Discuss the Secretariat Directorate Relationship Patterns.

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The pattern of Secretariat Directorate Relationship in the country is a subject of contention. There are different view points on the question of evolving suitable relationship pattern. Each of them has some positive points but none of them gives a conclusive answer. Three main schools of thought are discussed below:

The Status-quo Approach: The Status-quo Approach favors the traditional system. Under this approach the function of the Secretariat is policy formulation and the function of the Directorates is policy execution. It is also argued that Head of the Department should have fullest control over the personnel under him and the Secretariat Department should provide common service. The advocates of Status-quo Approach justify policy formulation by the Secretariat and policy execution by Directorates because:

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  • Persons responsible for policy execution should not be entrusted with the responsibility of its assessment.
  • Agency executing the policy is so engrossed in details that it may not have the broad outlook required for policy formulation.
  • Schemes framed by specialists and reviewed by generalists have broader orientation and greater objectivity.
  • Separation encourages delegation and decentralization.
  • It is a familiar arrangement and proven effectiveness.

The opponents of Status-quo Approach argue that:

  • Schemes are processed twice in two different offices and it causes delay.
  • Schemes framed by heads are scrutinized by assistants in Secretariat who raises unnecessary queries. In the process the original intentions gets distorted.
  • The generalists do not have the necessary knowledge to examine the schemes of qualified specialists, leave alone making any worthwhile contribution to it.
  • The Attached Office personnel entrusted with the execution feel like an inferior entity as they have no opportunity to participate in the scheme.

The Bridging-the-Gulf Approach: Departing from the traditional system of policy formulation by the Secretariat and policy execution by Directorates, new approaches favor measures to bring the Secretariat and Non-secretariat organizations closer. Known as Bridging-the-Gulf Approach it proposes ex-officio secretariat status to the heads of the Executive Departments.

Another approach advocates a system under which a Secretary holds the office of the Executive Department. Those opposing the Status-quo Approach have also advocated a system of amalgamation under which an Executive Department is placed in a Secretarial Department. Another device is just the other way round. It suggests placing the Secretarial Department in an Executive Department.

Ex-officio Secretariat Status: This device aims at conferring an ex-officio secretariat status to the heads of the Executive Departments. This is to ensure that both posts, the Director and the Secretary are combined in a single individual. This will eliminate the need for scrutiny of schemes in two offices and enable the Director to sign on behalf of government by virtue of being ex-officio Secretary. Though this will blur the line of demarcation between policy-making and its execution because the same person, in his capacity of Director, proposes the schemes and, in his capacity of the Secretary, scrutinizes it, but it makes the entire process more speedy, result oriented and accountable.

This suggestion has been recommended by Administrative Reforms Committees (ARC) of certain states also, though some reports of ARC have suggested to move in this direction on selective basis and some other have advised to try it in some cases on experimental basis. The main argument in favor of conferring an ex-officio secretariat status is that it will save time and make the working free of many procedural delays. The experience of Head of Department is adequately utilized and he will get fuller awareness of the various considerations associated with the policy. Moreover, the head of department will gain in status and control the speed and decision-making.

Amalgamation of Directorate with Secretariat: Those opposing the Status-quo Approach or the traditional system of separation of work and distinction between the Secretariat and Non-secretariat organizations have advocated a new system. Known as integration or amalgamation, this system proposes to merge the office of Executive Department in the Secretariat.

As a matter of fact, the role of the Secretariat is governed by the political executive and very often the Secretariat encroaches into the Executive functions. The political executive instead of paying adequate attention to policy formulation preoccupies itself excessively with matters like appointments, promotions and transfers which are part of administration and fall in the domain of the directorate. Since the roles of the two agencies overlap, their merger would be both logical and desirable. Two state-level ARCs have favored the idea of merger of the office of Heads of Departments with the State Secretariat. According to the ARCs, the advantages of the merger are:

  • Permits adequate interaction between the policy-making and policy implementing agencies.
  • Expedites the sanction of schemes and staff.
  • Speeds up implementation of schemes and facilitates their periodic reviews.
  • Encourages specialization.
  • Eliminates duplication, cuts and delays.
  • Improves the quality of performance.
  • Saves human and financial resources.

Amalgamation: The Second Model: Under the device of amalgamation the Executive Departments were sought to be merged with the Secretariat. It could also be other way round. The second model of amalgamation suggests placing the Secretarial Department in an Executive Department. In this case the Ministry and the Executive Department have a common office. In this common office all noting on the files is done by senior officers.

An example of such an amalgamation was in the Director-General of Posts and Telegraph before the P&T Board was constituted. This arrangement on the one hand ensures speedy disposal of cases and, on the other hand, helps to save human and financial resources.

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May 16, 2019
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