Friday, 6 July 2012

Coordination Mechanisms in GoI: GoM, Cabinet Sectt...

Extract from ARC II- Report 13, "Organizational Structure of GoI", pgs 134-140

Different Coordination Mechanisms

a. Cabinet Committee and GoMs (Group of Ministers) There is need for ensuring extensive horizontal coordination where policies are spread over a number of departments and where policy delivery mechanisms are distributed in different parts of the government. This issue of coordination among departments in the 
Government of India was also examined by the First Administrative Reforms Commission (First ARC) which recommended setting up of Standing Committees of the Cabinet. Also each of the cabinet committees mentioned above should be supported by a secretaries’ committee in order to ensure that time and energy are not wasted in dealing with issues which can be settled at the secretaries’ level. Some of them are:
Cabinet ommittee on Economic Affairs, Cabinet Committee on Management of Natural Calamities, Cabinet Committee on Security, Cabinet Committee on World Trade Organisation Matters.

In addition, several Groups of Ministers (GOMs) have been constituted to look into different issues/subjects. some of these GOMs have been empowered to take decisions on behalf of the cabinet (Empowered Group of Ministers) whereas the others make recommendations to the cabinet.  
As of May 2012 there are thirteen EGoMs on Spectrum Allocation and Auction, Procurement and Management of Food Grains, Sale of shares of GoI in CPSEs, Effective management of Drought-related issues, Ratnagiri Gas and Power Ltd, Gas pricing and commercial utilization,  National Highway Development Project, Ultra-Mega Power projects, Mass Rapid Transit Systems, Under-recoveries of OMCs, SEZs, amend Competition Act 2002. Most were headed by Pranab Mukherjee, but now that he is contesting for post of President, different people are being considered for appointment. Mr. Sharad Pawar quit as Chair of the Telecom EGoM.

b. Coordination Role of the Cabinet Secretariat: The cabinet secretariat plays an important role in coordination of inter-Ministerial matters. Whenever inter-Ministerial coordination is required, the concerned Ministries seek the assistance of the cabinet secretariat. The inter-Ministerial problems are dealt with in the meetings of the committees of secretaries (COS). These committees are constituted for discussing specific matters and proposals emanating from various secretaries to the Government and meetings are held under the chairmanship of the cabinet secretary. The decisions or recommendations of the COS are unanimous.  

The cabinet secretariat is seen as a useful mechanism by the Departments for promoting inter-Ministerial coordination since the cabinet secretary is also the head of the civil services. The secretaries therefore consider it necessary to keep the cabinet secretary informed of significant developments whenever necessary. The Transaction of Business Rules also require them to keep the cabinet secretary informed of developments, from time to time, specially if there are any departures from these rules.

c. Formal and Informal Mechanisms: Coordination between Government Departments is also achieved through various other formal and informal mechanisms. The formal mechanisms may include inter-Ministerial 
committees and working groups that are set up from time to time to deliberate on specific issues or to oversee the implementation of different government schemes and programmes. Coordination is also achieved through inter-Ministerial consultations which could occur through movement of files or through meetings between the representatives of the concerned Ministries.
The ARC2 suggests a flexible, inter-disciplinary team based approach which would inherently serve to improve coordination. 

An area where the commission feels the need for having a formal coordination mechanism relates to issues which may arise between the states and the union Government particularly in relation to sectors like power, transport, water etc. While at present such issues are often taken up through an inter-Ministerial mechanism between ministries of GoI and state governments; it should be possible to resolve such stalemates by the states bringing the matter before the cabinet secretary for consideration by the committee of secretaries based on which the union cabinet could take a final view.

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