After reading this article you will learn about the defects of Indian procedure system with reforms to remove the same.
Defects of Indian Procedure System:
Following are the main defects of Indian procedure system:
(i) Red Tapism:
The time required for answering letters is too long.
The administrative procedures are many and most of them are outmoded. All of them necessitate continuing scrutiny and some at least require vigorous overhauling.
According to Dr. Appleby, “the Rules of Business, Secretariat Instructions, and Office Manuals seem to me to be generally too delicate and confining, too detailed and unimaginative… They seem to assume and encourage that literal mindedness which damps the spirit, imagination and judgment which are important to good administration.”
(iv) Over-Emphasis on Precedents:
Too much concern is shown for precedents. The laying of too much emphasis on the precedents prolongs the process of review and causes irritation to programme agencies. Regarding this concern for precedents, Appleby rightly observes, ‘It seems a strange thing that this basic concern for precedent has not been challenged by the present government.
The primary function of political leadership—and notably of leadership in a revolutionary stage—is to incite a departure from precedent for the sake of the achievement of new values.
Even in non-revolutionary setting, concern for precedent as such, has little value. It is a dictum in professional administrative circles that the surest way to ruin your boss is to do exactly what he tells you to do—that is literally what he tells you to do without intelligence, without discrimination, without imagination.
Excessive concern for precedent’ is quite like an excessive concern for the literal… The way things have been done is known to everybody in the agencies involved; it is the easy way to go on doing things, but not always a good way to get things done.
(v) Too Cumbersome and Delaying:
The system of review is too cumbersome and delaying. In the words of Appleby, “far too many proposed actions are reviewed and that the review is far too often in the useless and frustrating fashion.”
He goes to the extent of saying “…specific decisions incident to effectuation of purpose of India are reviewed by too many persons in too many organs of the Government in too detailed, too repetitive and too negative terms.”
Reforms in Office Procedure:
In order to remove these defects, the Government of India, at the suggestion of O and M Division, effected the following reforms in the office procedure:
(a) New Type Section:
In order to avoid red-tapism and cumbersomeness of procedure, a ‘new type of section system’ has been set up in some Ministries.
According to this system, the institution of noting by Assistants has been abolished. Instead, noting is done by the section officer who decides to which level of decision making, the paper in question should go, and sends it directly to that level, thus avoiding the long journey of through proper channels.
According to this new system, every matter is given first consideration by an officer who has authority to dispose of certain types of cases personally. In such cases, papers may not be submitted higher up.
Moreover, the direct submission of cases by the section officer to the appropriate higher level avoiding the other hierarchical steps, will result in elimination of the intermediate stages and avoidance of irrelevant and repetitive noting.
(b) Delegation to Section Officers:
With a view to bring down the decision making level, higher officers are induced to delegate more and more authority to section officers. For instance, under-secretaries and in certain cases even section officers have been empowered to sanction money for contingency expenditure up to a certain limit. Section Officers have also been authorized to sanction leave to Class IV employees.
(c) Inspections Introduced:
To enforce compliance with prescribed procedures and make people efficiency conscious, annual and quarterly inspections of every section in the Central Secretariat have been introduced. This work is done by the O and M officers of the Ministry. Each Ministry issues annual returns of inspections to the O and M Division.
(d) Financial Control System Reformed:
The Financial Officers linked with the Administrative Ministries have been re-designated as Financial Advisers and have been brought nearer to the Secretary and other senior officers of the Ministry to which they are accredited.
Administrative Officers are now required to ensure that the ‘Attached Financial Adviser’ is taken into confidence at the earliest possible opportunity and is permitted full facility of discussion with the senior officers of the Ministry. That will ensure that no time and labour is wasted on the preparation of schemes and proposals likely to prove financially feasible and acceptable.
Likewise the subsequent detailed examination and formulation of proposals is to be done after a close consultation with the attached Financial Adviser. This results into the emergence of a joint, agreed, well conceived and comprehensive scheme. Such a step lays emphasis on the responsibility of the financial officers to give constructive financial advice to the administrative machinery.
Moreover, to facilitate the communication between the Administrative Ministries and the Finance Ministry, certain important reforms have been effected in the pattern of distribution of work among the Financial Advisers and in the working methods of Expenditure Division.
This has been done to promote expeditious disposal. The Financial Adviser has been empowered to dispose of all the cases emanating from the Administrative Ministry.
Procedural Reforms Suggested by A.R.C.:
The Administrative Reforms Commission also has suggested organizational and certain procedural reforms.
The Commission fixed following as the criteria of their reform scheme:
(a) “The duties and requirements of each job should be defined clearly and in detail on the basis of a scientific analysis of work content.
(b) “The arrangement of various jobs or positions within administrative organisation or for purposes of staffing by a particular grade or service, may be determined primarily by the nature and content of administrative tasks and functions to be performed.
(c) “The administrative structure may be so recast as to provide adequate opportunities for self-development and self-fulfillment of each Government official.”
In an organization so structured, the distribution of work between different wings of the secretariat and between secretariat and Executive Agencies would be based on the consideration of rationality and manageability. In the scheme so envisaged, the role of the secretary has been visualized as one of the coordinator, policy guide, reviewer and evaluator.
Following specific reforms in procedure were suggested by the A.R.C.:
The secretariat must adhere to the principle of “two levels and no more than two levels of decision-making”. It means that no file should go to more than two levels for decision. For instance, in a case involving policy decisions the Joint and Additional or full Secretary constitute these two levels. In a case of routine nature, under-secretary and section officer should constitute these levels.
1. Desk-Officer System:
The two level of decision making is organized on the line of ‘desk-officer’ system. The latter meant a procedure under which “each executive is allotted a defined area of functioning and is expected to acquire specialized experience in it. They described this system as an improvement upon officer-oriented system which was adopted by certain departments and ministries in 1956.
According to this system, the work assigned to a wing of Ministry is to be so distributed that each officer is required and empowered to dispose of a substantial amount of work on his own, seeking guidance from his senior officers, where deemed necessary. Such consultations are to be oral though a brief record of these discussions is to be maintained. Cases of a simple nature will be disposed of within five days.
2. Functional File Index System:
A Functional File Index System should be maintained by the Registry wing of each Ministry. A ‘Guard File’ or ‘Card Index’ should be prepared for maintaining record of all the important precedents. Besides, modern techniques of data processing should be gradually adopted in the secretariat. This would lead to the improvement of the information retrieval system.
3. Policy Advisory Committee for Group Thinking:
The A.R.C. also suggested that the individual approach to problem solving may be replaced by Group Thinking. Hence, they suggested the establishment of a Policy Advisory Committee in each Department. The said Committee is to be headed by a secretary. Its other members comprise chiefs of the proposed offices of Planning and Policy, Finance and Personnel, heads of the various substantive work wings.
4. Avoidance of Cross-References to other Ministries:
The current practice of horizontal pushing of the files from one Ministry to another, to seek advice on technical or legal matters caused unnecessary delay in settling the cases. Hence the Commission suggested the more liberal use of telephone or oral discussions. If this practice is adopted by an officer, a gist of the telephonic conversation should be recorded on the file.
5. Office Equipment:
The office equipment’s and the use we make of mechanical devices facilitates and accelerates work. Previously, a host of clerks used to be appointed for writing fair copies of letters and office memoranda. With the discovery of inventions like typewriters and duplicators, the clerk’s work became easier and work began to be conducted with speed and efficiency.
The mechanical enumerators, accounting machines, filing cabinets and telephone and telegraph have also made office routine easier and speedier. The Americans and the Britishers have made ample use of these devices. The Government of India also is now making use of them.
6. Administrative Architecture:
The speed and efficiency in administration also depends on the nature of buildings in which the offices are located. If the departmental offices are situated at different places, co-ordination may be lacking and the system may entail huge expenditure.
On the other hand, if offices are concentrated at one place, that may cause confusion and obstruction in work. Moreover, the concentration of all offices at one place may prove detrimental to the interest of the Nation, if in the event of attack, the enemy makes it a target and thus governmental structure is toppled down.
It is advisable that the government departments may be grouped on the basis of the nature of their functions. Departments performing collateral functions, viz., Industry and Commerce, Iron and Steel and Communication may be housed in one building. Likewise public utility departments like Labour, Housing, Social Welfare, etc., should be situated in one building.
Adequate attention should be paid to internal architecture of those buildings also. The entire building should be divided into blocks, each having a link with others. Each block should have a set of halls which should house central offices like Central Registry, Record Room, etc.
The block should also have separate sections having sub-halls and offices. Sections should be connected with each other through half doors. Section Officers’ office should be situated in the central place of the section. This will enable him to supervise the work of the section easily. The offices of the higher officers should be situated at a place where they may have easy approach to all branches and sections.
Offices should be spacious enough to avoid congestion. Moreover, concentration of too many clerks in one office will develop in them a tendency of gossiping and wasting time. Even from supervision point of view, it may not be desirable to concentrate too many of them at one place. Otherwise too, provision of a congenial atmosphere adds to the efficiency of the workers.
Availability of restaurants and canteens in the secretariat building, preferably common canteens, helps in developing personal contacts between the officers and their subordinates. It heightens the morale of the subordinates and enables the officers to supervise the work of their subordinates more effectively.