What is the Relationship between Secretariat and various departments of the State?



The work relating to the initiation and formulation of policies of the government requires decentralisation of executive directions and the establishment of field agencies.

For the most part of the substantive work handled by the State Secretariat, therefore, there exist executive departments, varying in size and powers which are responsible for providing executive directions required in the implementation executive departments serve as repository of technical opinion and advise the secretariat departments on technical aspects of questions dealt with by them.

Powers of a Head of the Department, both administrative and financial, are defined in financial rules, the civil services rules, the budget manual and other codes.

These rules indicate the category of cases that must to up to the head of department for final orders, the administrative and financial powers vested in various heads of departments and of; the heads of offices below them and cases which have to be referred to the State government at the headquarters for orders.

Heads of departments/directorates

Heads of departments are officers who are charge of the actual administration of specific services or administration and execution of projects. The State Government exercises control over the working of heads of departments through "administrative departments" of the secretariat.

The relation between the Secretary to the Government and Head of Department is based on the following principles.

(1) Policy making is the primary responsibility of the Secretariat, implementation of policy is that of the Department, and

(2) The Head of the Department subject to the rules governing the conditions of service, is given fullest control over the personnel under him.

Head of the Department is a specialist and the Secretary who supervises his work is a generalist civil servant. The Secretaries are the administrative advisers and assistants of the Ministers; Heads of Departments are their executive instruments.

The Secretaries are the "ears and eyes" of the Ministers, the Heads of Departments are their "Hands".

Functions of the directorates

(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 reappropiration within prescribed 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;

(6) Exercising disciplinary powers over all subordinate officers according to rules;

(7) Advising Public Service Commission concerning promotions and disciplinary actions and

(8) Sanctioning the attendance of officers at conference other than inter-state or government of India conferences.


The number and size of Heads of Departments depends upon the number of important subjects administered by the state. The Heads of the Departments are usually called Directors or Commissioners. They are assisted by Additional Directors, Joint directors, Deputy Directors and Assistant Directors.

Most of the departments have divisional headquarters corresponding to Commissioner's Division. Each Division is in charge of either a Joint Director or A Deputy Director. A Head of the Department as a principal head of office under him officers-in-charge at a regional or district levels.

The office staff is generally drawn from the department which means that they are specialists or technicians. The departments are generally headed by a technical officer variously called Registrar,

Director, Director-General, Inspector-General, Commissioner, Chief Engineer, etc but it is not unusual to appoint a member of the IAS to hold the charge of technical departments like agriculture, education, forests, health , sales tax, etc.

It is true that in theory the departments are free in their internal working and for this purpose adequate administrative and financial authority is vested in them, but as subordinate agencies they have to submit periodic or/and inspections of these offices by the Secretariat officers.

The Secretary's position is looked upon as one of the higher status than that of the heads of field agencies who are considered as subordinate to the secretaries. The general administrator is placed at a higher-level than the professional and technical officers. This is at the root of all inter service rivalries, tensions and conflicts and the inadequacy of the present system.

Relations between the field departments and secretariat

The relationship between the Secretariat and the filed agencies is a problem in state administration that led to much discussion, debate and controversy, and all committees appointed in recent years to recommend reforms in state governments have given due attention to this problem and made necessary recommendations. They include

(1) Clear-cut demarcation of functions between the secretariat and the executive departments.

(2) Liberal delegation of authority from the secretariat to the executive agencies.

(3) An effort should be made by the secretariat to see that such delegation is effective at all levels, and that delegated powers are fully exercised.

(4) Conferring ex-officio secretariat status on the heads or deputy heads of executive agencies considered important by the government.

(5) The Study of the ARC recommended that the distinction between the secretariat as the policy making body and the non-secretariat organisation as executive agencies be abolished and that the heads of all important non-secretariat organisation should be integrated with the administrative departments in the secretariat.