Single wheel does not moveKautilya
PMO - Prime Ministers's office was called as PMS or Prime Minister's Secretariat until emergency. Line agencies need A3 - Aid, Advice, Assistance of staff agencies to perform in E3 - Efficient, Economic and Effective manner. The need is imperative at the apex level of admin, In a parliamentary democracy where PM has multiple roles and responsibilities, it is inevitable for PM to have dedicated staff support. Therefore the need for PMS / PMO.
Roles of PMO
- Secretarial assistance to PM
- Headed by Principal Secretary to PM who is also the principal advisor to PM
- Staff Role A3 - today there are specific domain advisors like NSA, CEA, Scientific advisor to the PM. But still, it is Principle Secretary to PM who is the principal advisor
- Prepares PM w.r.t Parliamentary responsibilities like departments retained by PM - personnel, space and atomic energy ...etc
- PMO is a residual legatee - Functions which are specifically not assigned to any other agency operated out of PMO
- PM relief fund is operated out of PMO
- Image Management - media and other management
- DMU - Delivery monitoring unit for monitoring flagship programmes. Now PRAGATI - Proactive governance and timely implementation. It is a multipurpose and multimodel platform for addressing common man's grievances and simultaneous monitoring and reviewing important programmes and projects of GOI as well as projects flagged by states. It bundles the latest technologies - digital data management video conferencing and geo-spacial technology. It is the combination in the direction of cooperative federalism since it brings secretary of GOI and chief secretary of state in one stage with latest info and visuals of ground-level situation.
Relationship between PMO and Cabinet Secretariat
- Nascent existence of PMO. No conflict between PMO and Cab.Sec
- Top ranking Bureaucrats enter PMO for 1st time but Cab.Sec maintained its pre-eminence.
- Late 1960's and early 1970's
- Increase in concentration of powers in PM. Presidentialisation of PM. COM reduced to endorsing body. Therefore PMO emerged as the most trusted agency closer to PM than any other agency. Became the sounding board, eyes and ears. Alter ego of PM.
- Principle communicator between PM and other agencies. Former bureaucrats recalled in their autobiography that PMO teams accompanied PM on foreign tours even when the foreign minister is not present. A strong PMO supplemented the presidential style of PM's working and became like a de facto cabinet.
- Emergency Period
- PMO was the principle think tank, supposed to have controlled RAW and IB during this period. Major foreign policy and economic thinking came from PMO. PM was perceived to be involved in power brokering. Played a key role in the excesses committed during an internal emergency.
- Post Emergency Period
- Nomenclature changed from PMS to PMO to reduce the institutional importance by verbally downgrading it form secretariate to office. But this was only a cosmetic and symbolic change and ultimately PMO is as powerful as PM, wants it to be or makes it to be.
- Mid to late '80s
- Increased size of PMO, separate Minister of State for PMO. Conceived and operated many mission mode projects like telecom, science and tech...etc. Lateral entry of experts from other sectors to PMO (non-bureaucrats and domain experts like Nandan Nilekani)
- Late 90's to early 2000
- Principal Secretary to PM emerged as the chief channel of communication between PM and other institutions
- Rainbow coalition
- Of 24 parties increased dependency of PMO for coordination related issues. Principal Secretary to PM entrusted with multiple responsibilities - functioned as NSA - played a key role in negotiating during IC-814 hijack case.
- Chief secretary overshadowed by PMO even cabinet ministers met PM through Principal secretary. He is seen as a super advisor assisted by a group of officials seen more as a powerful line agent rather than a staff agent.
- Current Phase
- Regulations amended to let PM's choose as Principal Secretary
- PMO is playing a more hands-on role with mission mode deadlines.
- In sync with PM's leadership style. A sense of urgency, close monitoring, real-time tracking, conflict resolution.
- Conflict resolution and convergence
- Cabinet Secretariat is this phase is more of a coordinating body and shown a great restraint maturity and it is refused to be drawn in power politics over the years. Being the oldest of secretariate has sometimes been overshadowed by PMO. The youngest of the secretariate due to its proximity with PM.
- It is functional imperative that PM is given dedicated and adequate staff support given his multiple responsibilities. While any secretariate requires competent and experienced diplomatic and tactful administrators. At the post of cabinet secretariat, the leadership quality of the civil servant is tested to its maximum. On the other hand post of Principal secretariat to Prime Minister is uniquely endowed having tempting access to power, because it is closest to PM.
Ultimately it is up to the incumbent holding the post and on the PM to keep PMO within limits. It is a staff agent and should not become a crutch. PMO is inevitable staff agent and undesirable line agent. Both chief secretary and PMO need to evolve a healthy functional relationship to exercise the responsibilities in E3 manner.