After reading this article you will learn about:- 1. Introduction to Field-Stations 2. Legal Status of Field-Stations 3. Grading and Classification 4. Headquarters-Field Relationship.
Introduction to Field-Stations:
We consider the organization of the department as it functions at the seat of government. But the entire business of government is not carried on in the capital of the State. The people to whose needs the government and administration cater are spread all over the country and the more important services have to be carried to their very door.
It will not do to have a single school at Delhi and ask the people to send their children to that school.
Therefore, to serve the people, establishments are created throughout the length and breadth of the country called field establishments. Thus field establishments are those which work in the ‘field’ away from the headquarters.
The headquarters may be defined as the central place of a given area, where its highest government or administrative authorities are located and from which administrative direction and control fan out over the entire area.
The terms ‘headquarters’ and ‘field’ are relative to the area we have in mind. When we think of the whole of India, New Delhi is the headquarters and the rest of the country is the field. But when we refer to the States, the State-capitals are ‘headquarters’ instead of being considered mere ‘field stations’ of the Central Government.
Similarly, in the district the tehsils are the field-stations and the district is the headquarters, though district is also a field station of the State. In the case of diplomatic service the embassies which form the field-offices are scattered all over the world.
Legal Status of Field-Stations:
The reason for creating field-stations is that the needs of the people may be satisfied locally and easily; for instance, if a person has to go to purchase a post-card to Delhi, it is not only expensive for him but also greatly troublesome.
Therefore, to make available to the people the services of the government at their doors and to enable them to make full use of the services of the government it is desirable that post offices should be established at short distances.
The field-offices, their number, location and grade may be prescribed either by statutes or by administrative orders. The question as to whether it is desirable that the legislature should itself by statute seek to fix the number and location of field-offices and the boundaries of these offices or leave this matter to administrative determination, is one which cannot be answered in absolute terms.
If established by the legislature, the field-station will enjoy greater security and freedom than if established by the executive. Both the systems seem to be extreme.
A better plan would be that the executive establishes the field-stations but the legislature keeps control over the determination of their number, location and grade through the system of grants. It will have many advantages. In the first place, it will relieve the legislature of the burden of running into administrative details.
The legislature cannot legitimately decide technical questions of location, relations and organizations. Secondly, it would give flexibility to the whole system and avoid rigidity in administration as statutory regulation usually creates.
Thirdly, the executive is the better judge of the needs of the department and of the location, number and other things concerning the field-stations. It can alone provide for better arrangement.
Grading and Classification of Field-Stations:
A matter which is of great importance is that of grading field-stations according to their importance and of classifying them according to such grade into a hierarchy of offices constituting a single unified service. All the stations are not of equal importance and so they cannot be governed by one uniform standard.
For the sake of administrative convenience it is desirable that the various field-stations should be classified into various grades, for example, railway stations of A, B and C classes.
The classification of field-stations will bring a number of advantages, such as:
(a) It would make possible the building of a hierarchy of offices constituting a single unified service.
(b) It would help the government in prescribing a uniform standard of work for all the stations of the same grade.
(c) It would make possible the allotment of money to these stations according to their grade. In the absence of such gradation it would be difficult for the government to assess the needs of each and every station individually.
(d) It would give the headquarters an idea of the expenditure require for a particular type of field-station and enable it to check extravagance.
(e) It would be possible to make transfers of officers and employees from one station to another which is of the same grade.
(f) It would help the government in determining pay and allowances of the employees of the field-stations of various grades as positions can be graded according to the grades of the stations.
(g) In case of promotion and demotion, an officer may be transferred from a low-grade station to a higher-grade and from a higher-grade to a low-grade station respectively. This would create more interest and efficiency in work. A good example of field-stations in India is provided by the post offices and railways.
The head post office of Patiala differs in grade from the post office at Rajpura. Similarly, the railway station at Ambala differs in grade from the railway station at Patiala.
Another important problem affecting the establishment of field-stations is whether there should be sub-stations. If so, what should be their fractions and relations to the stations and headquarters. A sub-station should not be confused with a less important station.
Although there may not be any difference in respect of their nature and importance of work, yet there is a marked difference between their status and authority.
When sub-stations are created, the line of authority runs to the central office through the stations of which they are sub-stations, e.g., the head post office of Patiala has a number of sub-post offices in the district under its jurisdiction which are sub-stations. The responsibility from the Bahadurgarh post office runs first to the Patiala head post office of which it is sub-office and then to the general post office at Ambala.
Where no provision is made for sub-stations, the line of authority in all cases runs direct from the station to the central office, e.g., the Patiala railway station is not responsible to the Ambala railway station but directly to the central office at Delhi.
The advantages to be secured through a sub-station system are “First, a decreolization of responsibility from the stand-point of the central office; second, the making possible of a more effective co-operative relations between contiguous stations; third, a lessening, in many cases, of the expense of maintaining sub-ordinate stations; and finally, a lessening, in many cases, of the work and expense involved in furnishing sub-stations with supplies and in subjecting them to physical inspection.”
Headquarter signify the central or supervising officer usually stationed in the capital of the country. To be more concrete ‘the head quarters organisation of the government of India comprises a number of Ministries and Departments.
The Field offices on the other hand comprises the offices which get approval before taking administrative action from the headquarters and are controlled aid directed by the latter. In the Indian administrative system headquarters may be considered synonymous with the secretariat whereas the term field imply attached and subordinate offices.
Significance of Field:
The impact of legislation or an administrative action is discernible from its being well administered. Administration falls on the field agencies. As such, criterion of good governance lies in the proper functioning of the field agencies.
The importance of field services has become manifold due to the emergence of concept of welfare state technological advances particularly in the domains of communication and transportation; the growing eagerness of the masses to have services at their door; enhancement of regulatory activities; and preponderating number of employees required at fields.
In Delhi for instance one out of 160 central employees of Delhi works at the Headquarters as the rest are functioning in the field.
Criteria for Formation of Field:
(ii) Historical consideration;
(iii) Political pressures and need for citizen convenience and participation;
(iv) Nature of work to be undertaken by the department;
(v) Administrative Economy necessitating formation of field service and availability of funds with the Department.
Thus the field-headquarters relationship is an important problem in field establishment administration. The need of decentralization today is more felt because of the vast social welfare and development activities which a modern State undertakes, nevertheless it remains a fact that adequate provisions need be made for the direction and supervision of field-stations.
The need of decentralisation today is more felt because of the vast social welfare and development activities which a modern state undertakes, nevertheless it remains a fact that adequate provisions need to be made for the direction and supervision of field-stations. The relations between the headquarters and field-stations may be organized in either of the two ways, i.e., unitary or territorial and multiple or functional.
The relations between the headquarters and field-stations may be organized in either of the two ways, i.e., unitary or territorial and multiple or functional.
(i) Unitary System:
In the unitary or territorial system, the line of authority runs from the clerks to the officer- in-charge of the field-station and from him to the headquarters of the government. Under it, the head of the field-station is placed in complete charge of all the activities of his station and the various section clerks are his subordinates.
The head of the station may be called in this sense the general manager of the station. Consequently he is held responsible not only for his own acts but also for those of his subordinates.
All communications between the station and headquarters pass through him. A very good example of this system is the post office department. In a post office, there are several clerks dealing individually with registration, savings bank, money order, parcel, prize bonds, etc. All these clerks are responsible first to the postmaster of the office and through him to regional postmaster and ultimately to the Director-General.
The advantages of unitary system are as follows;
(a) It avoids the general tendency to concentrate too much authority in the central office and thus become unwieldy;
(b) It ensures enough flexibility;
(c) It ensures sufficient autonomy to the field-station.
The disadvantages of the unitary systems are as under:
(a) It leads to divergence of policy and methods;
(b) There is no functional unity between the field-station and headquarters:
(c) It is costly.
(ii) Multiple Systems:
In the multiple or functional type, the station is not looked upon as a unit but “as an assembly of units which are only loosely held together for matters of general administration by the authority of the head of the station.”
Here, the line of authority runs direct from the division clerk to the head of the corresponding division at the headquarters. The units are subdivisions of the corresponding central divisions, e.g., the savings bank clerk of the post office of Patiala would be responsible to the savings bank clerk in the office of the Director-General of Post Offices.
Under this system the officer-in-charge of the station does not have much authority over the clerks working in his station. He is barely responsible for establishment duties of the station, like ensuring their regular attendance, maintaining discipline among them, supplying furniture and making seating arrangement.
Its advantages are as under:
(a) Under the multiple systems, the technical operations in fields come under the direct control and direction of central experts which ensure direct supervision and better efficiency;
(b) All questions of policy common to all and common matters are settled by central administration;
(c) As one administration does all what each would have to do for itself, it has the advantage of economy and will maintain uniformity.
The disadvantages of multiple systems are as follows:
(a) It seeks to concentrate too much authority in the central office resulting in unwieldiness and un-manageability;
(b) It makes flexibility difficult and does not ensure sufficient autonomy to the field- stations.