It has to depend not only on formal media but also on informal ones. In fact, the informal means are often more effective than the formal. Among the formal means of co-ordination the more important are:
In large scale operations, planning of the programmes, personnel and operations before hand is very important. It is said of Napoleon that before winning his battles on the battle field he used to win them on a piece of paper in his drawing-room.
A well-chalked-out plan will predetermine the places of friction and disputes and will make adequate provisions for coordination. Thus pre-planning of programmes and operations is in itself an effective means of co-ordination by way of working as a preventive of disputes and friction.
The positive means of coordination begin with structure and organization. A sound system of organisation is in itself an effective check upon friction and disputes.
While an organisation characterized by clear lines of authority, adequate powers, well-understood allocation of functions absence of overlapping and duplication of effort and proper delegation of work in itself reduce the necessities of co-ordination.
While a property organized machinery of administration minimizes the need of co-ordination, it cannot altogether do away with it. Every large scale organization needs a machinery of co ordination, and needs it at every level of organization.
Cabinet and Cabinet Secretariat:
During the earlier centuries when administrative work was less and centuries when administrative work was less and simple, most of the interdepartmental disputes were resolved by the chief executive.
Even now, disputes of a very grave or fundamental nature are referred by departmental heads of their respective ministers who first try to resolve amongst themselves, and if that is not possible, than they put it before the cabinet. The Ministers, or the cabinet as the case may be they both resolve the dispute and may instruct there permanent secretaries to resolve the dispute among the line provided in the agreement. The later course is adopted more frequently.
This is a supra-departmental means of coordination. From the time the cabinet Secretariat has developed as an adjunct of the cabinet it has been relieving the cabinet of much of its routine and less important work.
And, as it is a body directly functioning under the Prime Minister the person charged with the general supervision and control of the government as a whole, it has been discharging the functions of co-ordinating the activities of the various ministers. It discovers precedents, prepares rules and works towards mutual understanding for resolving the disputes.
In the official Directory of the Government it has been specifically stated that, among others, the Cabinet Secretariat will attend to matters of the “general coordination of important administrative measures of the Government of India which affect more than one Ministry to measures, necessary for resolving difficulties or delays which may arise in the administrative field whether between Ministries of the Government of India or between Government of India and State Governments,” and to matters of “Co-ordination of all economic and statistical works of the Government of India”. For these, the Secretariat maintains a separate Division of Co-ordination.
While the supra-departmental means of coordination are employed only in more important cases, the departmental and interdepartmental methods are the usual means of Co-ordination. The task of co-ordination within agencies is borne by the top and middle management officials. The work of section is co-ordination by Branch officers, of Branches by Division Chiefs and Divisions by Secretaries and Joint-Secretaries.
But the inter-departmental conflicts were resolved by inter-departmental committees which may be composed of officials drawn from the top or middle-management officials of the departments concerned. These committees are made use of at different levels of administration. They serve a very useful purpose and thus, relieve the executive and the top officials of much headache. They can, however, be useful only when the members come together with a sense of urgency and compromise.
If they come with a dogged attachment to their own pet-plans and notions, then “a session of an inter-departmental committees tend to be a place where departmental representatives come well prepared to defend their positions and leave more convinced than before of the correctness of their attitudes”, (V.O. Keg). There maybe agreement between different departments without surrendering any part of their policies, but there can be no agreement when persons are blindly attached to their own views.
Sometimes, regional councils, representing different field organizations working in a particular region are formed to coordinate the activities of these field organizations. These councils may serve a useful purpose by way of exchange of information and interpretation of policy and programmes, for coordinating the operations of services working in the same sphere and combining their auxiliary activities, such as, joint purchase and supply, or arranging legal advice etc.
Staff officers, who are attached to the Chief Executive and the top officials, render very useful service by way of supplying information regarding the personnel and other questions of the agency and furnishing advice to coordinate and control its activities the financial and personnel advisors are very effective agencies of coordination. The Civil Service Commission, the O. and M. Division and the Central Purchasing Agency may be very useful means of coordination.
Informal Means of Coordination:
Informal means of coordination are usually as effective in Public Administration as in private life. Public officials are human beings like ordinary citizens and, therefore, meet fellow officials in clubs, restaurants and other meeting places and have family and neighbourhood relationships like all other people.
It is, therefore, natural that they must discuss, among others, problems of departmental conflicts and find some solution for them. In the British Civil Service there has developed a “tradition of Civility as Sir Ernest Barber calls it, which enables them to resolve inter-departmental conflicts with ease and patience.
Speaking about the effect of this tradition on British Administration, Prof. S.E. Finer says, “The long term cumulative effect of informal collaboration ringing up, calling at lunch, ‘dropping in to-see’ is prodigious. Least visible publicly, it is the most powerful cement in the whole executive structure”.
Such a spirit existed among the I.C.S. officials in India during the British rule and it is hoped that it would continue even now. It is a wrong practice to have separate clubs and canteens for different grades of officials. Mutual contacts between higher and lower officials will be beneficial to both of them and ultimately to the administration.
Besides, certain other boards and institutions like the University Grants Commission are also agencies which facilitate co-ordination. Lately, the Finance Ministry in the Government of India interferes in their working. He gives them maximum freedom to work and set their own goals according to their wishes. He would give his own suggestion when wanted by the subordinates.
‘This style provides opportunity to the subordinates to develop and realize the goals, according to their wishes. However, if too much freedom is given the subordinates may engage themselves in realising their own selfish goals rather than the organizational goals for which’- they have been employed. If the leader does not provide guidance and direction to the subordinates he may even be generous to the position of the one who is a deserter.