(Online Course) Pub Ad for IAS Mains: State Government and Administration: Directorates (Paper -2)

(Online Course) Public Administration for IAS Mains Exams

Topic: State Government and Administration: Directorates

The secretariat is concerned with setting the boarder polices and goals of the State Government while the responsibility for achieving those policies and executing those policies rests with the heads of the executive departments. The executive agencies are as a rule of located outside the secretariat and constitute distinct organisational entities.


A popular label to identity an executive agency of ‘Directorate’ Many examples of this could be cited—Director of Agriculture, director of Animal Husbandry, Director of College Education, Director of Social Welfare and so on. However, other nomenclatures are also used to refer to the head of the executive departments. Thus, the executive head of the department of police is known as Director General of Police; that of the jail department, the Inspector General of Jails; that of the forest department, the Chief Conservator of Forests; that of the cooperative department, the Register of Cooperative Societies; that of the sale-tax; that of the public works department, the Chief Engineer; that of the printing and stationery department, the Controller and so forth. In other words, although in a large number of cases the head of the executive department are called directors, they are also known by other names.


Apart from state level, the executive agencies also function at the substantial levels. When this is done, lesser directorates emerge at the regional level. When this process goes further down the line, the district, block and village level field agencies of a directorate emerge. Through the creation of field agencies, the administration is able to reach the doorsteps of the people its serves.

At the state level, the headship would normally be with a ‘full’ director who would be assisted by additional directors, joint directors, deputy directors assistant directors and other functionaries. The regional level set up of an executive department would usually be headed by an officer of a lower rank, a senior joint director/joint or even with lower rank. Many district level officers of the executive departments are headed by deputy or even assistant directors.

Functions of the Department/Directorate

Generally, the Head of the Department is responsible for the following functions:

1. Formulation of Departmental budget;
2. Acting as technical adviser to the Minister;
3. Inspection of the execution of work of departmental district staff;
4. Allocation of grants according to rules, making budget reappropriation within limits;
5. Making within approved rules all appointments, confirmations, postings, transfers, promotions of all subordinate officers including also sanctioning of leave and making acting arrangements;

Relationship between the Secretariat and Field Departments

Any form of government organisation must be based on three essential components-the minister or the political head, the secretary or the administrative head and the head of the executive agency called by various names such as Department, Directorate, Inspectorate, etc. In the interest of good administration it is essential that the respective functions of the three components should be broadly distinguished and defined and all must obviously work in the closest touch with each other. This describes the ideal relationship which should be maintained during normal times. However, in times of emergency and crisis the relationship is naturally disturbed and with the centralisation of authority the secretariat tends to become powerful.

The relationship between the secretariat and the field agencies is a problem in state administration that has led to much discussion; debate and controversy and all committees/commissions appointed in recent years to recommend reforms in state governments have given due attention to this problem and made necessary recommendations. These suggestions vary all the way from a radical organisational overhaul to minor procedural changes. The need today is for a clear-cut demarcation of functions between the secretariat and the executive departments. The secretariat should concern itself mainly with issues of policy leaving its implementation to the field agencies and exercising only a supervisory and coordinating role.

Flowing from the above suggestions is the need for liberal delegation of authority from the secretariat to the executive agencies. Since the responsibility of the examination of government policies rests with the heads of departments, it is essential that they should be given adequate powers and discretion to act effectively and exercise initiative. All reports on Administrative Reforms are agreed on the need for it. But, while some increased delegations have been made in some states in recent years, the overall approach has been one of hesitancy and caution. Delegations are often made piecemeal and with reservations and are hedged in by restrictions of various kinds.”

Two suggestions have been given to improve delegation. First, it has been noticed that the powers delegated to various heads of departments are not uniform. It is desirable that there should be uniformity in the powers delegated to all the heads of departments exceptions should be rare. Secondly, that secretariat should take steps to make delegation effective at all levels so that the powers are fully exercised. The heads of departments resent ‘interference from above but they do not allow their subordinates to exercise the delegated powers. The main reason for this seems to be failure to define the proper role of the head of department concerning the field agencies. Third, suggestion is to confer an ex-officio secretariat status on the heads of the departments. This arrangement has been freely used in the past as well as at present on the ground that it would save a lot of time in processing of the proposal at the Secretariat. The arguments against this suggestion is first, that it mixes the role of Secretariat and department while role of both are different. Second, the government loses the advantage of a second look at the proposal by the Secretariat from the point of view of general policy of the government. Third, the head of departments have a lot of work in the field therefore, they cannot give much time to policy making functions. Finally, the appointment of the technical officers to the Secretariat is a wasteful use of the expert. But most of the State Administrative enquiry committees set up in recent times have favoured this suggestion. Lastly, the ARC Study Team on the Machinery of the Government of India has recommended that the distraction between the Secretariat as the policy making body and the non secretariat organisations as executive agencies be abolished and the heads of all important non-Secretariat organisations should be integrated with the administrative departments in the Secretariat.

For Full Material Join Public Administration Online Coaching

Buy Printed Study Kit for Public Administration for IAS Mains Exams

Join Public Administration Test Series for IAS Mains Exam

<< Go Back to Main Page