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

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Topic: State Government and Administration: State Secretariat

The Council of Ministers at the state level, being a body of political leaders cannot be expected to perform the detailed administrative functions themselves. Therefore, they need the advice of professional administrators in the performance of these functions. This advice is tendered to them by a body of officers known as the secretariat.

As well know that the executive functions of the State Government are divided between different departments. Each department of a number of departments are placed in charge of a Minister. The Minister is thus the political head of a department. The Minister is thus the political head of a department. To tender advice to him there is the administrative department headed by the secretary. Although each department or groups of departments has a secretary, who is called the Secretary to the Government of a state and not the secretary to the Government of a state and not the secretary to a particular department or individual Minister.


The term “Secretariat” is used to refer to the complex of departments whose administrative heads are secretaries and political head the Ministers. The secretariat departments must be distinguished from the executive department. Not all departments attached to them. Some of the secretariat departments are engaged in advisory and controlling functions and do not, therefore have executive departments reporting to them. Generally, the head of the executive department is a specialist and the secretary, the administrative head, who supervises his work is the generalists civil servant, normally a senior member of the I.A.S.


The number of Secretariat departments varies from State to State. The number of secretariat departments usually greater than the number of secretaries. The practice normally, is to entrust more than one department to the charge of one secretary like his counterpart at the union level.

The officers in a secretariat department are grouped into various categories—Secretary, Special/Additional Secretary, Deputy Secretary/Joint Secretary, Under Secretary.

The Secretary is in overall charge of the department. He is the principal adviser to minister and responsible for carrying out the policies and decision made by the political chief and finally, represents his departments before the committees of the legislature. When the work in a particular department becomes too heavy, some posts of Special Secretaries/Additional Secretaries may be created to relieve the Secretary of some of the burden of his work. They can perform some of the functions of the secretary and may submit files directly to the minister in respect of the delegated functions performed by them. The real operating level below the Secretary is the Deputy Secretary. In some of the states the post of Joint Secretaries have also been created. However, they perform the same functions. The Deputy Secretaries/Joint Secretaries are placed in charge of a definite www woo the Department. A Deputy secretary is also delegated some powers to dispose of certain routine cases at his level. Under Secretaries are the lower level officers. They are placed incharge of a number of sections each headed by a section officer.

Assistance Secretary/Section Officer is responsible for the distribution of work among the various functionaries of the section and to ensure timely submission of files to the officers. He supervises the www woo the Assistant/U.D.Cs. working in his section and makes them present the case suitable docketed and referenced.


The secretariat is a policy-making body of the government and normally performs the following functions:

1. Assisting the minister in policy-making and modifying policies from time to time, as and when necessary;
2. Framing legislation and rules and regulations;
3. Budgeting and control of expenditure in respect of activities of the ministry;
4. Supervising and control over the execution of policies and programmes by the executive departments;
5. Coordination and interpretation of policies;
6. Assisting other branches of Government and maintaining contact with central and other state governments and outside agencies;
7. Assisting the minister in the discharge of his parliamentary responsibilities;
8. The secretariat acts as the spokesman of the Government.

The Rajasthan Administrative Reforms Committee (1963) has, in its report prescribed the following functions, which are to be attended to by the secretariat.General

1. All matters of general policy;
2. Inter-department coordination;
3. Matters involving the framing of new legal enactments of rules of amendments in the existing ones. Cases involving interpretation or relaxation of existing rules or government orders;
4. Correspondences with the Government of India and other State Governments;
5. All matters relating to the preparation or adoption of new plan schemes, and important modifications in the existing schemes;
6. Review of the progress of the plan schemes both physical and financial.
7. Inspection reports and tour notes recorded by heads of departments;
8. All India conference and important conference at he state level;
9. Public accounts committee, Estimates committee, Assembly/Parliament questions;
10. Delegation of powers;
11. Litigation notice under section 80 CPC;
12. Appeals, Revision, etc., within the power of the State Government.

Financial Matters

1. Scrutiny and approval of departmental budget estimates, major appropriation of accounts, surrender of funds and supplementary grants;
2. All proposals involving new items of expenditure;
3. Financial sanctions not within the competence of the head of department;
4. Sanction of expenditure from contingency fund;
5. Write-off cases beyond the powers of heads of department and audit objections regarding the officer of the heads of department.

Service Matters

1. Approval of service rules and amendment thereto;
2. Papers relating to senor appointments/promotions/transfers of deputy heads of department and above, plus, cases of disciplinary proceedings against their officers;
3. Initial appointment of officers belonging to the state service and inflection of major punishments on them;
4. Creation of posts, their extension and continuance, re-employment, resignations, special pay and allowances and positions; not within the powers of heads of departments.

Criticism of the Secretariat

The general complaint against the Secretariat is that it has been concentrating most of the powers. The executive heads of departments generally complain that even for a small matter they have to approach the Secretary for getting sanction. The reason for this tendency is inherent in the Parliamentary form of Government. The Minister is responsible to the Parliament for omissions and commissions of the department under his charge. Hence, he has to keep himself informed of all the developments of his department. This leads to the concentration of functions in the Secretariat. Certain human and psychological factors are also responsible for this monopolization of power. But this type of concentration leads to inefficiency in the working of the Government. Second, the Secretariat being far away from the field are not aware of the problems in the field. Therefore, their examination of proposal put forth by field staff is not only superficial, but also leads to too many queries. This slow and tardy processing of the cases impairs the efficiency of the field agencies. Third, the posting in the Secretariat these days are important and attractive and the condition in the field is difficult. The field officers have to face political pressures and have greater chance of coming into conflict with the political matters. While the Secretariat officers have a very good existence. They work close to the centre of power and are able to develop better equation with them. Moreover, the Secretariat posts carry additional remuneration which make them more attractive to the officers; have better educational and medical facilities and other amenities. Therefore, most of the officers wish to remain in the Secretariat. By staying for a long period in the Secretariat these officers lose touch with the field and do not realise the field problems. It is, therefore, essential to have a balance between the field level and Secretariat level experience of the officers.

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