After reading this article you will learn about the various O and M units in U.K., U.S.A. and India.
O and M Unit in the U.K.:
The O and M unit in the U.K. came into existence after the First World War and was very much expanded after the Second World War.
The war had established beyond any doubt that there was a dire necessity for the training of civil servants in the new techniques of administration and for the improvement of administrative working procedures. Such a need resulted in the setting up of O and M division in the British Treasury.
Presently the O and M work is being done in the Establishment division of the Treasury. O and M cells exist in twenty major departments. The total number of O and M officers is over 400 out of which about eighty work in the Treasury. The rest of the O and M men work in other major departments.
Recruitment of O and M Staff:
The O and M staff is partially recruited from the civil services and partially from business and industry. Civil servants having administrative experience and fully abreast of the working of government departments are purposely included in O and M personnel.
Their suggestions as O and M men are apt to have practical bearing. Likewise inclusion of men of business and industry is helpful because those drawn from the Whitehall hardly possess specialized knowledge of which the former are the embodiment. Both types of officers receive training in the O and M work.
The civil servants, however, are not kept for more than five years on the O and M staff.
This has two advantages:
(a) O and M staff enjoys the benefits of the experience of fresh blood;
(b) The officers imbued with O and M spirit when sent back to their parent Departments, induce their colleagues to imbibe O and M spirit.
Organisation of O and M:
The O and M apparatus is composed of four parts—The Government Organizing Committee; O and M division of the Treasury; Departmental O and M units; and a panel of businessmen.
(a) O and M Division of Treasury:
This is the O and M proper. A Director of the status of Principal Assistant Secretary is the Chairman of this Division. He is responsible to the third secretary to the Treasury who heads the Establishment Division of the Treasury.
The O and M Division has Six Branches:
(i) Assignment Branch which provides O and M officers to small departments which do not have O and M cells.
(ii) Scottish Branch studies problems relating to Scottish Departments because they do not have cells of O and M.
(iii) Machinery of Government Branch. It is responsible for the survey regarding distribution of functions among the departments.
(iv) Office Machines Branch. It assists and advises the departments on problems of mechanization.
(v) Training Branch. It trains the O and M staff by developing and administering theoretical and practical instructions in the principles of O and M and their application.
(vi) Central Services Branch. It receives survey reports from the departments, collates and edits this material and provides a central O and M information service to the departments.
(b) Government Organizing Committee:
It is composed of a number of permanent secretaries of the various departments. Secretary to the Treasury is the Chairman of this Committee. It studies organisational matters of higher level. It supervises the work of O and M unit proper. It is to see that the recommendations made by the O and M are given proper attention by the departments. In the performance of its task, it is assisted by Machinery of Government Branch of the O and M Division.
(c) Departmental O and M Units:
There are departmental O and M units in the major departments. These units owe responsibility to the departmental heads and have a liaison with the Treasury O and M Division. These units study the organisation and methods of their respective departments in order to improve the organisation and methods of work to achieve greater efficiency in administration.
(d) A Panel of Businessmen:
A panel of businessmen serve in advisory capacity. They supervise the working of O and M machinery as a whole. Provision of businessmen for O and M was made in order to enable the O and M units to avail the experience gained in the field of industry.
Achievements of O and M in U.K.:
(a) The O and M has effected some improvements in the organisation of the departments:
(i) By the redistribution of functions among the various developments on the basis of purpose;
(ii) By causing readjustments of the structure and organisation of the departments on scientific lines;
(iii) By simplifying the work processes; and
(iv) By pooling together the experience of public services of caliber and industrialists of renown and disseminating this knowledge through the bimonthly O and M Bulletins, conferences and personal contacts.
(b) The O and M Division has been continually reviewing the organisation of the departments and the methods of work in order to adapt them to the changing needs. The authorities on Public Administration are of the view that O and M Division is working quite satisfactorily in the U.K. However, there is always a scope for further improvement.
O and M in U.S.A.:
A brief account of O and M in U.S.A. will not be out of place. In an industrialized country like U.S.A. it was realized that production could be augmented with the introduction of scientific management. F.W. Taylor is said to be the father of scientific management. The Federal Government of U.S.A. gathered this idea from the field of industry and set up a Bureau of Efficiency in 1913 for doing O and M work.
With the creation of Bureau of Budget, it was merged with it. During Great War, it proved to be of immense utility as it brought about organisational changes and evolved new and better methods of work to meet the new situation. Between the two wars, O and M work was not given adequate attention.
However, in 1939, the O and M work was expanded as Division of Administration Management in the Bureau of Budget. The two wars, in fact, gave great impetus to the O and M work in the Federal Government.
The general pattern of O and M in U.S.A. is the same as in U.K. There are O and M cells in the departments. The O and M units exist in the states and in the local bodies. It is said that the O and M has conducted organizational studies, carried out physical layout surveys, and conducted work simplification studies successfully. The recommendations of the O and M have been readily accepted by the Federal Government, resulting in administrative efficiency.
O and M in India:
With the end of world war, Government of India assumed new responsibilities pertaining to the welfare and development of the teeming millions. The quality of personnel and supervision, however, had considerably deteriorated. A general apathy to shoulder responsibilities was discernible.
There was tendency of ‘passing the buck’ to the higher levels of hierarchy. With the dawn of independent era, according to S. B. Bapat, these tendencies were further reinforced by the natural desires of the new ministers conscious of their responsibility to Parliament to be consulted or kept informed before the issue of orders even in comparatively unimportant matters.
The standard of efficiency was no longer a matter of pride. It was thus strongly felt that a permanent organisation on the pattern of O and M in U.K. should be established in order to pay a continual attention to improve the efficiency of administrative machinery. A.D. Gorwala suggested the setting up of a Directorate of Methods, Organization and Training in 1947.
An Economy Committee appointed a year later suggested the constitution of a separate organisation to exercise strict control over the procedure and personnel of all the Ministries to find out whether officers at all levels were conscientiously discharging the responsibilities devolved upon them and to effect improvement in the organisation and methods of work.
N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar in 1949, the Manpower Shortage Committee in 1949, the Planning Commission in their First Five Year Plan in 1952, and a renowned professor—Paul H. Appleby—expressed similar views.
The First Five-Year Plan clearly stated that O and M shall deal with the following problems:
(a) It shall study office procedures and suggest methods for simplifying office procedures.
(b) It will suggest techniques for the elimination of delays in work,
(c) It will suggest ways and means for improving the system of maintaining records,
(d) It will study the movement of files,
(e) It will suggest methods for increased delegation of authority and responsibility at appropriate levels.’
Keeping in view all these recommendations and suggestions. Government of India set up the Central O and M Division in India in March 1954. The O and M work of the Central Government is split up in two independent organisations—O and M Division and Staff Assistant Unit.
Central O and M Division:
It is very small in size. It is composed of a Director—a part-time officer of the status of Joint Secretary to the Government of India; a deputy director to assist him, an officer on special duty, two officers of the status of under secretaries, four section officers, a few assistants and clerks.
It was located in the cabinet secretariat and functioned under the Prime Minister during the period 1954-1964. In 1964, the O and M was merged in the Department of Administrative Reforms located in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
In February 1973, the Department of Administrative Reforms was separated from the Ministry of Home Affairs and was placed in the Cabinet Secretariat. In 1977, the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms was transferred from the Cabinet Secretariat to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
In 1985, the department was re-designated as the Ministry of Personnel, Training, Administrative Reforms, Public Grievances, Pension and Pensioners Welfare. O and M work was made the responsibility of this ministry which is presently under the charge of a Minister of State.
The Central O and M supplies leadership, drive and co-ordination and is instrumental in building up a common fund of information and experience. The Director pays informal visits to Ministries to study the procedure of work being followed by them. He tenders advice on the spot on matters of detail. Besides, he exchanges ideas and experiences with the O and M officers of various Departments from time to time.
The Deputy Director, likewise, pays informal visits to the various ministries and effects checks at random to appraise the actual implementation of prescribed procedures. He also advises on the spot on the varied problems of the O and M work.
The O and M officers, in general, make an appraisal of the factors that slacken the speed and retard the efficiency of the organisation with which they are concerned. They also see how far specified procedures are being followed and give advice on the spot. Thus through its officers the O and M Division strives to evolve solutions to common drawbacks and deficiencies.
In its report of 1954, the O and M Division clearly stated its main functions which are as follows:
(a) To make all concerned conscious of the prevailing inefficiency and of the need and scope for improvement,
(b) To discover facts relating to dispatch of work and to see what is actually wrong and where to diagnose the causes for delay and see what factors impede achieving quality in work,
(c) To devise and apply proper remedies. S.B. Bapat has well described the functions of O and M in these words, “….it means paying intelligent and critical attention not only to what is done but also to how it is done and in what cost, in time, labour and money; paying attention to the design of the machine and its working processes and not only to its end product.”
Really speaking it has paid adequate attention to the quality of work by instituting quality control devices and has toned up administrative efficiency.
Staff Reorganization Unit (S.R.U.):
It was established by the Ministry of Finance in 1952. It is composed of the personnel drawn entirely from the Ministry of Finance. It has a director who enjoys status equivalent to the Deputy Director in the Ministry of Finance. The other persons are drawn from the Indian Audit and Accounts service and the Indian Revenue service.
A clear-cut demarcation of activities of O and M Division and S.A.U. has not been made. The existence of two independent organisations performing more or less the same type of tasks is sheer anachronism. Broadly speaking, the S.R.U. keeps its activities confined to work simplification and work measurement techniques it is mainly concerned with effecting of economy and better utilization of the financial allocations.
Its record of work shows that it has very successfully applied work study techniques in solving the administrative problems in various departments of the Government of India. The S.R.U. has been designated now as S.I.U. (Staff Inspection Unit).
O and M Cells:
Q and M cells have been established in all the Ministries and attached offices. They are headed by an officer of the Ministry or officer concerned who happens to be the officer-in- charge of the Establishment work in the organisation.
He is generally of the rank of a deputy secretary. The officers in charge of O and M cells remain in close touch with each other and with the Director of the O and M Division. The O and M units point out defects to the Ministries concerned and strive to remedy them by suggesting requisite ways and means.
Evaluation of O and M Work in India:
On the whole O and M in India has played quite a commendable role to improve the administrative efficiency in all branches of the Government departments. Its role is advisory in character. In the advisory capacity its job has been to assist the heads of the departments by giving them concrete suggestions. A number of recommendations made by the O and M Division have been readily accepted by the Government.
Some of its main recommendations are as follows:
(a) The section officers should be delegated more powers, in order to reduce the burden of the Under Secretaries and have speedy disposal of cases.
(b) For the speedy disposal of cases the concerned officers should have personal discussion to settle the matter rather than adopting the circuitous method of noting and counter noting on the file.
(c) The Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Ministry of Works, Housing and Supply should delegate some of the minor powers to other ministries.
(d) The ‘Through Proper Channel’ method may not be rigidly observed. The file should be sent direct by the section officer to the officer having the power to make a decision in the matter.
(e) The existing forms may be revised, as they have many deficiencies.
(f) The messenger service system intended to replace the existing systems of Jamadars and peons, be introduced.
(g) Office procedure should undergo a change.
Most of these recommendations have been accepted by the Government of India. Unimportant matters have been entrusted to the section officers. More and more matters are being settled through personal discussions. Some of the existing forms, requiring revision to expedite the disposal of work, have been revised. The messenger service has been introduced in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry since 1958.
The Planning Commission, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Co-operation and the Ministry of Defence have also adopted the service. Delegation of power has also been done. For instance, Home Ministry delegated certain administrative powers, viz., grant of extension of service to government servants, re-employment of retired persons and the appointment of non-Indians.
Likewise, short circuiting and level jumping have been resorted to by the Home Ministry. The Deputy Secretary is made available in the section itself to speed up disposal of cases. Thus time taken at intermediary levels is saved. In order to reduce red-tapism in the offices a revised manual of office procedure was prepared by the O and M.
The services of O and M Division have been requisitioned by some universities in reorganizing their administration. On the request of the University Grants Commission, Officers of the O and M Division have inspected the offices of a number of universities. The universities have highly appreciated assistance rendered by O and M.
In brief, the O and M in India has made great contribution in improving the efficiency of administration of many Government departments. It has not only pointed out the defects of the Government departments but has tried to remove them. Through its efforts, a ‘control mechanism’ has been developed by the ministries.
As such each ministry maintains a control chart which indicates the time taken for the final disposal of the primary receipts. If undue delay is caused, the O and M officials point it out and suggest ways to overcome such delays.
Moreover, each ministry maintains a weekly statement of receipts and cases pending action by dealing hands and also monthly statement of cases pending disposal for more than a month. Besides, the O and M Division, as already pointed out, has paid adequate attention to the quality of work done.
Through ‘Quality Control Drives’ it secured that the senior officials made a note of the quality of noting and drafting of the lower staff. The O and M Division published a list of financial and cognate powers delegated to the various administrative authorities.
R.K. Rangan, Ex-Deputy Director, O and M Division, has very well summed up the contribution of the O and M Division in these words, “a number of procedural reforms have been introduced at the instance of the O and M Division to correct defects brought to light by experience or as a result of inspections or special studies. They relate to such diverse matters as the handling of dak, receipts of papers addressed to officers absent on tour or on leave, circulation of tour programmes, the maintenance of reminder diaries, monthly progress returns of the cases of quasi-permanent staff, direct correspondence between Ministries and Heads of Departments under other ministries, the prompt supply of Government reports, publications, etc., to the public, the disposal of audit objections, validity of identity cards, the drawal of washing allowance for class IV servants, etc.”
Though work done by O and M is fairly commendable yet it has not been able to attain stature of O and M in U.K. and U.S.A. It is advisable that some officers may be sent to Great Britain and the U.S.A. to get thorough training in the O and M work and techniques.
Moreover, they should fully collaborate with the businessmen, the industrialists and the academicians. These suggestions can go a long way in enabling the O and M in India to achieve greater success in achieving the end in view.