In India, every state has its own secretariat. It is the nerve centre of the state administration. It comprises of several departments of the government. The political head of a department is the minister and the administrative head of the department is the secretary. The Chief Secretary is the head of the entire secretariat while a Secretary is the head of one or two departments. The Secretary is usually a senior IAS officer, a generalist. An exception to this rule is the public works department which is headed by the Chief Engineer, a specialist. In Tamil Nadu, the secretariat is called as the chief secretariat which is situated at St.George Fort, Chennai.
Generally, the number of departments in secretariat differs from state to state. It ranges from 15 to 35 departments. The departments which are included in the Chief Secretariat in Tamil Nadu, are following.
1. General Administration
4. Personnel and Administrative Reforms
9. Labour and Employment
10. Panchayat Raj
11. Public works
14. Irrigation and Power
16. Social Welfare
18. Civil supplies
20. Local Government
21. Excise and Taxation
23. Publicity and information
The Chief Secretariat of Tamil Nadu consists of officers who are appointed for a fixed tenure. The retirement age of government servants in Tamil Nadu is 58. The secretariat consists of officers belonging to All India Service and the officers recruited by the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission. The hierarchy of the secretariat officers in a department is following.
Assistant Section Officer
Steno-Typists and Typists
The secretariat is a staff agency by which it has to advise the executive departments in the implementation of the public policies. Its basic function is to assist the minister in the fulfillment of his role. It performs the following functions.
1. The secretariat formulates the policies and programmes of the state government.
2. It coordinates the policies and programmes of the state government.
3. It prepares the state budget and imposes control on public expenditure.
4. It frames legislation, rules and regulations.
5. It supervises the implementation of policies and programmes by the field agencies.
6. It reviews the results of the execution of public policies.
7. It maintains contacts with the control and other state governments.
8. It takes initiative measures to develop greater organisational competence through O&M.
9. It assists the ministers in discharging their responsibilities to the legislature, like answering the questions asked by the members of the legislative Assembly.
10. It appoints the heads of departments and looks into the consequent establishment work like salary.
11. It approves the service rules and their amendments.
12. It explores the possibilities of improving the financial position of the state.
13. It serves as a think-tank of the state government.
14. It assists the chief secretary in the proper functioning of the secretariat; and
15. It receives the complaints, representations and appeals from the people and solve them.
The Chief Secretary is the executive head of the state secretariat. He is the administrative head of the state administration and stands at the apex of the hierarchy of state administration. In fact, he is the chief of the secretaries and controls all the secretariat departments. He is the senior-most civil servant in the state. He has the powers and functions mentioned in the 'Rules of Business' framed by the state government. He also receives some of his powers from conventions. He performs the following primary and other functions.
1. As an advisor to the Chief Minister, the Chief Secretary explains the administrative implications of the proposals forwarded by the state ministers.
2. As secretary to the cabinet, he prepares the agenda for cabinet meetings and keeps the records of its proceedings.
3. As the head of civil service, he deals with all cases related to appointment, transfers and promotion of senior state civil servants.
4. As chief coordinator, he works towards ensuring inter departmental coordination. He is the chairman of coordination committees set up for resolving the inter-departmental disputes.
5. As the head of certain departments, he supervises and controls them; and
6. As crisis administrator, he plays a very significant role in the time of crisis like flood, drought, communal disputes, etc in the state.
1. The Chief Secretary acts as the residual legatee, ie, he looks after all the matters not included within the purview of other secretaries.
2. He exercises general supervision and control over the entire secretariat.
3. He acts as the secretary, by rotation, of the Zonal Council in which the state concerned is a member.
4. He has administrative control over the secretariat building, staff attached to the ministers, the secretariat library, the conservancy and ward staff of the secretariat departments.
5. He is the principal channel of communication among the state government, the central government and the other state governments.
6. He plays an important role in the administration of law and order and planning.
7. He acts as a spokesman of the state government.
8. He attends the meetings of the National Development Council.
9. He acts as the chief public relations officer of the state government; and
10. He acts as the chief advisor to the governor when president's rule is imposed in the state under Article 356 of the constitution, when the central advisors are not appointed.
Thus, the Chief Secretariat of Tamil Nadu is the nerve centre of state administration in general. As such, the Chief Secretary who is the chief all secretaries, is the nerve system of secretariat administration in particular in the state of Tamil Nadu.