State Secretariat – State Secretariat: organisation and functions UPSC

State Secretariat

The Council of Ministers at the state level, being a body of Political leaders cannot be expected to perform the detailed administrative functions themselves.

 Therefore, they need the advice of Professional administrators in the performance of these Functions.

This advice is tendered to them by a body of officers known as the Secretariat.

The executive  Functions  of the State Government are divided between different departments.

Each department of a number of departments are placed in charge of a Minister. The Minister is thus the  Political  head of a department.

To tender advice to him there is the  Administrative  department headed by the secretary, is called Although each department or groups of departments has a secretary, who is called the Secretary to the Government of a state and not the secretary to the Government of a state and not the secretary to a particular department or re individual Minister.

The term “Secretariat” is used to refer to the complex of departments whose  Administrative   heads are secretaries and  Political  head the Ministers.

The Secretariat departments must be distinguished from the executive department. Not all departments attached to them.

Some of the secretariat departments are engaged in advisory and controlling  Functions  and do not, therefore have executive departments reporting to them.

Generally, the head of the executive department is a specialist and the secretary, the Administrative head, who supervises his work is the generalists civil servant, normally a senior member of the I.A.S

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The number of Secretariat departments varies from State to State.

The officers in a  Secretariat department are grouped into various categories Secretary, Special/Additional Secretary, Deputy Secretary/Joint Secretary, Under Secretary.

The Secretary is in overall charge of the department. He is the principal adviser to minister and responsible for carrying out the policies and decision made by the political chief and finally, represents his departments before the committees of the legislature.

When the work in a particular department becomes too heavy, some posts of Special Secretaries/Additional Secretaries may be created to relieve the Secretary of some of the burden of his work.

They can perform some of the Functions of the secretary and may submit files directly to the minister in respect of the delegated  Functions  performed by them. The real operating level below the Secretary is the Deputy Secretary.

In some of the states the post of Joint Secretaries have also been created. However, they perform the same  Functions .

The Deputy Secretaries/Joint Secretaries are placed in charge of a definite wing of the Department.

A Deputy secretary is also delegated some powers to dispose of certain routine cases at his level.

Under Secretaries are the lower level officers.

They are placed in charge of a number of sections each headed by a section officer.

Assistance Secretary/Section Officer is responsible for the distribution of work among the various functionaries of the section and to ensure timely submission of files to the officers. He supervises the www woo the Assistant/U.D.Cs. working in his section and makes them present the case suitable docketed and referenced 

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The secretariat is a policy-making body of the government and normally performs the following  functions :

Assisting the minister in policy-making and modifying policies from time to time, as and when necessary;

Framing legislation and rules and regulations;

Budgeting and control of expenditure in respect of activities of the ministry; Supervising and control over the execution of policies and programmes by the executive departments;

Coordination and interpretation of policies;

Assisting other branches of Government and maintaining contact with central and other state governments and outside agencies;

Assisting the minister in the discharge of his parliamentary responsibilities;

The secretariat acts as the spokesman of the Government Financial Matters

Scrutiny and approval of departmental budget estimates, major appropriation of accounts, surrender of funds and supplementary grants;

All proposals involving new items of expenditure;

Financial sanctions not within the competence of the head of department;

Sanction of expenditure from contingency fund;

Write-off cases beyond the powers of heads of department and audit objections regarding the officer of the heads of department.

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Service Matters

Approval of service rules and amendment thereto;

Papers relating to senor appointments/promotions/transfers of deputy heads of department and above, plus, cases of disciplinary proceedings against their officers;

Initial appointment of officers belonging to the state service and inflection of major punishments on them;

Creation of posts, their extension and continuance, re-employment, resignations, special pay and allowances and positions; not within the powers of heads of departments

Criticism of the  Secretariat

The general complaint against the  Secretariat is that it has been concentrating most of the powers.

The executive heads of departments generally complain that even for a small matter they have to approach the Secretary for getting sanction.

The reason for this tendency is inherent in the Parliamentary form of Government.

The Minister is responsible to the Parliament for omissions and commissions of the department under his charge.

Hence, he has to keep himself informed of all the developments of his department.

This leads to the concentration of  functions  in the  Secretariat.

Certain human and psychological factors are also responsible for this monopolization of power.

But this type of concentration leads to inefficiency in the working of the Government.

Second, the  Secretariat being far away from the field are not aware of the problems in the field.

Therefore, their examination of proposal put forth by field staff is not only superficial, but also leads to too many queries.

This slow and tardy processing of the cases impairs the efficiency of the field agencies.

Third, the posting in the Secretariat these days are important and attractive and the condition in the field is difficult.

 The field officers have to face political pressures and have greater chance of coming into conflict with the political matters.

While the Secretariat officers have a very good existence.

 They work close to the centre of power and are able to develop better equation with them. Moreover, the Secretariat posts carry additional remuneration which make them more attractive to the officers; have better educational and medical facilities and other amenities.

Therefore, most of the officers wish to remain in the Secretariat. By staying for a long period in the Secretariat these officers lose touch with the field and do not realise the field problems.

 It is, therefore, essential to have a balance between the field level and Secretariat level experience of the officers


Directorates are seen as the chief executive organs of the government. In the Secretariat policy formulation functions are generally headed by Generalists. While in the Directorates policy implementation functions are headed by specialists.

Directorates are arranged on the principle of Division of Labour and to have subject-wise focus Directorates are established.

These are responsible for the detailed implementation of plans/programmes at the level of Directorate who direct the scheme of implementation as well as assign the Field establishments their respective roles.

 Resource management of effective implementation of plans is carried out at this level.

 Directorates ensure the will of the Secretariat find its physical execution.

They also help the Secretariat in the assessment of implementation of various plans and programmes.

They act as a vital links between the Field establishments and the  Secretariat.

Secretariat acts as the head and the Directorates act as the head and hands both at the implementation level

‘State  Secretariat

Meaning of State  Secretariat

Each state has its own  Secretariat which is the center of the state Administration machinery. It consists of several departments of the state government. The political heads of departments are ‘ministers’ and Administrative heads are ‘secretaries’. The Chief Secretary is the head of the entire State Secretariat, while the Secretary heads one or two departments/departments. The secretary is usually senior IAS. Officers (also called generalists). An exception to this rule is the Chief Engineer (of the specialist class) who heads the Public Works Department. It is worth noting here that the secretary is the secretary of the entire state government and not a particular minister.

‘Organization of the State Secretariat

The number of departments in the secretariat of different states varies from 15 to 35.

The departments which are there in all the states are as follows –

• General Administration,


• Irrigation and electricity

• home

• . Agriculture

• Local Governance

• Labor and Employment Law

• Excise and Taxation Finance

• Panchayati Raj Social Welfare

• Industry-prisons

Public Works Housing

• Information and Publicity

. • Revenue

• Civil Supplies .

• Forest

• transportation

• Education

• Co-Operations

• Plan

• Health

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State  Secretariat Personnel

The Department of the  Secretariat consists of officers who are appointed for a fixed tenure. The hierarchy of the officers of the Secretariat is as follows –

• Secretary

• Special Secretary/Additional-Secretary

• joint Secretary

• Deputy Secretary

• Upper Secretary

• assistant Secretary

Under the said officers in the  Secretariat , there are also the following categories of employees –

• Superintendent (or Section Officer)

• Assistant Superintendent

• Senior clerk

• Lower division clerk

• Stenographer-typist and typist

• Workers

Functions of the State  Secretariat

Secretariat  is the staff agency. Its main function is to assist the minister in the discharge of his role. The following functions are performed by the Secretariat:

(i) to formulate the policies and programs of the State Government,

(ii) to maintain synergy between the policies and programs of the State Government,

(iii) to prepare the budget of the state and to exercise control over public expenditure,

(iv) making laws, rules and regulations,

(v) focus on implementation of policies and programs by field agencies,

(vi) to review the results of the implementation of policies,

(vii) to maintain liaison with the Central and other State Governments,

(viii) Initiating measures to develop organizational competition, that is, taking measures to work related to organization and method.

(ix) Assistance to ministers in the discharge of their responsibilities related to the State Legislature

(x) to appoint the heads of departments and to oversee the salary Administration establishment work,

(vi) To act as the information repository of the State Government

(ii) To explore the possibilities of improving the financial position of the State,

(xiii) receiving and resolving complaints, representations and appeals of the general public,

(xiv) to approve service rules and amendments thereto.

Recommendations of the Administrative Reforms Commission of the State  Secretariat 

The Administrative Reforms Commission (1966-1970), in its report on the State  Administration , made the following recommendations to improve the performance of the State  Secretariat :

1. The number of departments in the State Secretariat  should not exceed 13.

2. The basic scheme of grouping of subjects into departments should not be changed to increase the number of portfolios of ministers.

3. A Personnel Department should be established under the charge of the Chief Secretary and it should be under the direct control of the Chief Minister.

4. The distribution of subjects among the various  Secretariat  departments should be such that they are able to deal with a specified part of the Administrative activities.

5. The executive Functions to be performed by the  Secretariat  should be devolved to the appropriate executive organizations.

6. Two staff cells (a joint cell on planning and policy and a financial cell) should be established in the departments dealing with specific subjects.

7. A policy advisory committee should be constituted in each department. needed.

8. There should be only two levels of deliberation and decision-making under the minister and each line of the table officer system should be assigned this task.

Chief secretary of the  Secretariat 

The post of Chief Secretary is basically the Central Government of the British Government. The post was created in the year 1799 by the then Governor General Lai Wellesley. GS Jalo was sitting on this post for the first time. Over a period of time, many years before the independence, the post disappeared from the central government and became the post of the state government.

The Chief Secretary is the official head of the State Secretariat. He is the Administrative head of the state Administration and occupies the highest position in the Administrative hierarchy of the state. The Chief Secretary is at the top of the ranks of other secretaries. In fact, the Chief Secretary is the head of the Secretaries and all the departments of the Secretariat are under his control. He is the leader, guide and controller of the entire state Administration. His position is very important and he has different roles in the Administrative system of the state. Mangatrai has rightly said in this context, “The work of a Chief Secretary is not like that of a technician or a professional, nor is he a skilled engineer. He is not even a magistrate of the first rank; he is a part of government process and democratic. It is a part of the human process in the republic.”

Since 1973, the Chief Secretary is considered the senior most civil servant in all the states. Prior to that the Chief Secretary was considered junior to the Finance Commissioner in Punjab and the member of the Board of Revenue in Uttar Pradesh. On the other hand, in Tamil Nadu the Chief Secretary was the senior most civil servant. However, on the recommendation of the Administrative Reforms Commission, this post was standardized in the year 1973 and this post was made equivalent to the post of Secretary to the Central Government both in terms of records and emoluments.

In addition, the post of Chief Secretary has been kept separate from the tenure system i.e. this post has no fixed tenure. Although the Administrative Reforms Commission had recommended keeping the tenure of the Chief Secretary for three to four years, but by rejecting the recommendation, the old system was retained.

Powers and Functions of the Chief Secretary of the  Secretariat

The Functions and powers of the Chief Secretary are mentioned in the ‘Government Business Rules (Rules of Business)’ prepared by the State Government.

He also has some functional powers on a traditional basis, the details of which are as follows –

As advisor to the chief minister

The Chief Secretary acts as the Principal Advisor to the Chief Minister in all matters relating to the State Administration. The Chief Minister consults the Chief Secretary on all policy issues related to the governance of the State. The Chief Secretary informs the Chief Minister about the administrative constraints related to the proposals sent by the State Ministers. The Chief Secretary also acts as a link between the Secretaries of the State Government and the Chief Minister.

As Cabinet Secretary

The Chief Secretary acts as the Secretary to the State Cabinet. He is the administrative head of the Cabinet Secretariat and attends the meetings of the Cabinet and its sub-committees as required. The Chief Secretary prepares the agenda of the cabinet meeting and also keeps a record of the proceedings of the meeting. He implements the decisions taken in these meetings.

As head of public service

The Chief Secretary acts as the head of the State Civil Service. He deals with the matters related to the appointment, transfer and promotion of senior civil servants of the state. He plays an important role in maintaining the morale of the civil service of the state, he is the keeper of the consciousness of all the civil servants.

As head of some departments

The Chief Secretary is also the administrative head of some departments of the Secretariat. However, its position is not the same in every state i.e. there is no uniformity across the country in this matter. In most states, the General Administration Department, Personnel Department, Planning Department and Administrative Reforms Department are directly under the charge of the Chief Secretary. The most important is the General Administration Department in the State Secretariat whose political head is the Chief Minister himself. This department is concerned with various matters affecting the overall functioning of the State Government. The Administrative Reforms Commission of India had recommended that the Chief Secretary should be the head of the Personnel Department in all the states.

As emergency administrator

The Chief Secretary plays a very important role in times of floods, droughts, communal riots and other calamities. In times like these, he provides guidance and leadership to the officers and agencies engaged in relief work. The Chief Secretary is usually the chairman or important member of the committees constituted to take high level decisions during the crisis. The fact is that the Chief Secretary acts as the principal administrator of the crisis and is the exclusive representation of the State Government to all the officers concerned with the relief work.

Other tasks and roles

The other Functions and roles of the Chief Secretary are as follows:

(a) The Chief Secretary looks after all those works which do not come under the jurisdiction of other Secretaries.

(b) The Chief Secretary acts as the Secretary on the basis of his turn in the Zonal Council. The regional council consists of a few states, with each state being considered a member of the council. The Chief Secretary of each State, in turn, looks after the work of the Secretary of the Council.

(c) The Chief Secretary controls and efficiently supervises the entire State Secretariat.

(d) The Chief Secretary has administrative control over the secretariat building, the staff attached to the minister, the library of the Central Archives Secretariat, the staff related to the security and monitoring work of the departments of the Secretariat.

(e) The Chief Secretary would be the main channel of communication and communication between his Government, the Central Government and other State Governments.

(f) He plays an important role in Administration related to Law and order and planning.

(g) He participates in the Annual Conference of Chief Secretaries to be chaired by the Union Cabinet Secretary.

(h) He also performs the Function of spokesperson of the State Government.

(i) He holds the position of advisor to the Governor on behalf of the Center when the President’s rule is imposed in the State.

(j) He would also attend the meetings of the National Development Council

(k) He also looks after the work of the Chief Public Relations Officer of the State Government.

As Chief Coordinator

The Chief Secretary is the chief coordinator (coordinating, coordinating) of the state administration. Its function at the Secretariat  level is to ensure inter-departmental coordination. He advises the Secretaries on inter-departmental difficulties. He is the chairman of the coordinating committee constituted for the resolution of inter-departmental disputes. He also presides over the meetings of the secretaries of the departments. The meetings/conferences of the Divisional Commissioners below the Secretariat level, District Collectors and Heads of Departments of the District Administration are also presided over by the Chief Secretary and coordination is established between them.


(Chief Secretary vs Cabinet Secretary)

There is no post in the Central Government equivalent to the post of Chief Secretary of the State. Only the Union Cabinet Secretary can be considered equivalent to the Chief Secretary of the State. The reality is that the cabinet secretary, personnel secretary, home secretary and finance secretary in the central government are responsible for the greater number of functions performed by the chief secretary in administration and the different roles performed by him alone.

Similarities between Chief Secretary and Cabinet Secretary

(i) Both the heads of their respective chief executives
are consultants.

(ii) Both are the chief coordinators of their respective administrations.

(iii) Both are secretaries of their respective cabinets.

(iv) Both the administrative offices of their respective cabinet secretariats
are major.

(v) Both the terms have their origin at the central level.

(vi) Both the decisions taken by their respective cabinets

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