Friday, 6 July 2012

ARC II- Organisational Structure of GoI (Report 13)

Reforming the structure of the Government of India is necessary because the sustainability of the other reforms is closely interlinked with the creation of a pro-active, efficient and flexible organizational framework.

Most of the structures existing in the government are based on the Weberian model of division of work - a well defined hierarchy, adherence to rules and, by and large, impersonal functioning. These organizational structures have stood the test of time to a considerable extent but are more suited to command and control functions and less so when it comes to developmental, promotional and facilitative functions of the state. India’s position on various key human development and economic parameters remains well below desired levels. In a way this is a reflection of the structure and functioning of governmental organizations. 

Click here to read about Existing Structure of GoI: its Strengths and Weaknesses

A major and basic restructuring is essential to combat the evils of fragmentation, narrow departmentalism, 
concentration of powers and micro-management at the higher levels which leads to inordinate delays and lack of accountability. The commission feels that the following core principles should govern the restructuring of the Government of India:

a. The union Government should primarily focus on the following core areas:
i. Defence, International Relations, National security, Justice and rule of law
ii. Human development through access to good quality education and healthcare to every citizen
iii. Infrastructure and sustainable natural resource development
iv. Social security and social justice
v. Macro-economic management and national economic planning
vi. National policies in respect of other sectors

b. The principle of subsidiarity should be followed to decentralise functions to state and local Governments. Propensity to centralize has been the dominant feature of our administration. A task which can be performed by a small, lower unit should never be entrusted to a large, higher unit. 

c. Subjects which are closely inter-related should be dealt with together: In any organization, functional division is inevitable but it should not be at the cost of an integrated approach towards organizational goals. It is therefore necessary that while structuring Government into Ministries and Departments, a golden mean between the need for functional specialization and the adoption of an integrated approach is adopted. This would involve an in-depth analysis of all the government functions followed by their grouping into certain key categories to be linked to a Ministry. 
Eg: the Departmentally Related Standing Committees of Parliament is a good example of integration of inter-connected subject matters. The Coal & Steel committee considers demands of Ministries of Coal, Mines and Steel. The External Affairs Committee considers demands of MEA and Ministry of Overseas Affairs. The Energy committee considers demands of ministries of Power and New and Renewable Energy.
ARCII goes on to recommend a redefining the Ministry to mean a group of departments whose functions and subjects are closely related and is assigned to a First or Coordinating Minister for the purpose 
of providing overall leadership and coordination. eg: Ministry of Local Government would include departments of Rural Development, Drinking Water supply, Housing and urban Poverty Alleviation, Urban Development, Panchayati Raj.

d. Separation of policy making functions from execution In the context of Government, this would require the Ministries to give greater emphasis to the policy making functions while delegating the implementation functions to the operational units or independent organizations/agencies. This is all the more necessary because policy making today is a specialized function which requires a broader perspective, conceptual understanding of the domain and proper appreciation of the external environment. Implementation of the policies on the other hand require in-depth knowledge of the subject and managerial skills.
Eg: In New Zealand, the government has brought out a booklet called “Policy Advice Initiative - Opportunities for Management” for use by policy- makers. New Zealand has even established ministries whose output is policy advice. For instance, it split the Ministry of Defence in 1989 into the New Zealand Defence Force, in charge of the country’s defence forces, and a small Ministry of Defence, whose primary function was to provide policy advice on strategic and military capabilities.
Eg: Japan has set up a strong mechanism for careful policy evaluation. The idea is to evaluate policy carefully when it is first proposed, and also evaluate periodically the relevance and costs and benefits of policies in force. Although policy review is the responsibility of each ministry, Japan has experimented with inter-disciplinary agencies specializing in policy evaluation to do this on a continuing basis and coach the ministries in sophisticated policy analysis 
Fore more details view Policy making and Policy implementation

e. Coordinated implementation: coordination is essential in implementation as in policy making. The proliferation of vertical departments makes this an impossible task except in cases where empowered commissions, statutory bodies, autonomous societies have been created. There is considerable scope 
for more of such inter-disciplinary bodies in important sectors. This should be pursued urgently. In cases where these already exist, the tendency to reduce their autonomy should be reversed.
Click here for info on Coordination mechanisms in GOI.

f. Flatter structures - reducing the number of levels and encouraging team workThe structure of an organization including those in government should be tailormade to suit the specific objectives it is supposed to achieve. The conventional approach in the Government of India has been to adopt uniform vertical 
hierarchies (as prescribed in the Manual for Office Procedure). There is a need to shift to flatter organizations with greater emphasis on team work.

g. Well defined accountability: The present multi-layered organizational structure with fragmented decision making leads to a culture of alibis for non- performance. The tendency to have large number of on file consultations, often unnecessary, lead to diffused accountability. A clearer demarcation of organizational responsibilities would also have helped in developing a performance management system for individual functionaries. 

h. Appropriate delegation: A typical characteristic of a government organization is the tendency to centralize power and avoid delegation of authority to subordinate functionaries or units. However, this leads to delays, inefficiency and demoralization of the subordinate staff. The principle of subsidiarity should be followed to locate authority closer to the citizens. 

i. Criticality of operational units: Government organizations have tended to become top-heavy coupled with fragmentation and lack of authority, manpower and resources at the operational levels that have a direct bearing on citizens’ lives. Rationalization of Government staff pattern is necessary, commensurate with 
the requirements of the citizens.

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