So with that wonderful beginning we proceed to today's article which will discuss Accountability And Control in Administration and everything related to it as per the heading above.
Click on ' JOIN THIS SITE ' to get instant updates on new posts on this blog. And also for 'INTERACTIONS AND DISCUSSIONS' regarding this blog's posts 'JOIN ITS FACEBOOK COMMUNITY/GROUP' that is mentioned on the right hand side of this page.
CONCEPT OF ACCOUNTABILITY AND CONTROL:
ACCOUNTABILITY - Accountability is to take complete responsibility by a person or an organisation for what he/she or the organisation did or failed to do (which was their duty) and must be able to give a satisfactory reason for it and the use of authority entrusted in them to carry out that responsibility. It is to check whether a work was done or not and Accountabilty as a process is performed after the work is completed or is supposed to have been completed.
Civil servants though not directly accountable to the People or their representatives but they are Vigilance authorities and Ombudsman in all organisations to keep a tab on them and also they are indirectly accountable for their action/exercise of authority to the people through the political executive(who are answerable to the Houses of Parliament for their Ministries) and Courts of Law.
If there is no accountablility then the civil servants would turn in to despots(unfair/cruel rulers),arbitrary and corrupt.
RESPONSIBILITY - A job or duty that a person is entrusted with in order to perform and complete them.
AUTHORITY - The legal right to control.
CONTROL - The contemporaneous mechanisms to check whether work is being done and done in the proper manner as specified on time is Control. It is carried on simultaneously while work is being done through its various forms which will be discussed below.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACCOUNTABILITY AND CONTROL:
Accountability happens after the job is complete or when some work has been done whereas control is performed simultaneously as the work is being done,side by side.
Types Of Accountability & Control:
1) Internal Control & Accountability : It is a part of the Administrative Machinery and work automatically and spontaneously with the movement of the machinery as self regulating devices and act as brakes in an automobile.
It comprises of -
a) Budgetary control - Every department and official is given information about the amount of funds they have and they have to perform within it,if it goes overboard then they are accountable. These funds are passed by the Parliament/Legislature through voting and is not easy to get and once they are used they are audited by the CAG and the Finance Ministry sanctions funds to the departments and Ministries once Parliament passes it.
b) Personnel Management Control- Every official is made aware of his rank,grade and salary and there are rules and regulations that govern the work conditions and conduct of the personnel and if that is not followed and then a pre-prescribed punishment is meted out.
c) Organisational and Method/Management Control- Regular inspections are done and requisite training is provided to officials for efficient execution of their responsibilities.
d) Administrative Ethics and Professional standards - Moral and accepted beliefs of behaviour are promoted amongst officials.
e) Leadership- Leadership acceptance increases with an increase in hierarchy and position and that is encouraged to keep the motivation and morale of officials going. It should not be seen only in the negative light of a control mechanism for irrational patterns of individual's employees' activities but as a positive mechanism of harmonising individual's activities into rational patterns.
2) External Control & Accountability:
The controls within the constitutional machinery e.g. Legislative control,executive control,Judicial control. Public control through media, interest groups, voluntary organizations,Civil society,Citizen’s Charters,Right to Information,Social audit.are also a form of external control.
A thing to note is that external and internal controls are not exclusive categories but are interdependent and complement and supplement each other.
Lets discuss these in detail now.
LEGISLATIVE CONTROL AND ACCOUNTABILITY - The legislature exercises general power of ' direction,supervision and control of Public administration ' as per Willoughby. Through budgetary review and other devices of investigation it keeps a check on them. The bureaucrat is shielded for his actions by the minister through the policy of ministerial responsibility to the legislature.
However, there are many means by the legislature to enforce responsibility in the executive,which are:
a) Control on delegated legislation: Normally the legislature is entrusted with the job of making laws but in complex and stressful conditions of the modern society,the State is caught up with many things at one time and is not able to concentrate and study a particular issue properly leads to a situation of delegated legislation or delegation(giving) of some of its law making powers to the administrative authorities.However,the administrative authorities are strictly subordinate or under the terms of the statute of the delegation and is subject to judicial review if it violated the terms of conditions of the agreement and its validity can be measured as well.
Delegated legislation has become a necessary evil as nowadays matters brought before the legislature to make laws are highly technical and usually the legislators do not possess such specialist knowledge and so lay down the general principles(basic ideas/rules) and leave the technical details to be sorted out to the administration to make the rules through the process of delegated legislation. It brings in flexibility and is immensely helpful in times of emergencies.
The legislature should clearly;y spell out the limit of the power delegated so that there is control maintained. The delegation should function under the rules and regulations of the agreement made between the legislature and them.It should be transparent and public should be allowed to participate. Judicial review is a must for the smooth and legal functioning of the delegated legislation.
b) President's speech: Addressing both the Houses of Parliament before starting every new session of the parliament and also on other occasions aims to broadly and clearly read out the policies and activities of the executive in the time immediately ahead. General discussion is then held regarding the president's speech and this gives an opportunity to the parliamentarians to appreciate or criticise the administration for doing or not doing their duties. President's speech is a means to bring in the public's voice in the parliament and not to coerce the parliamentarians as they follow the party guidelines.
c) Financial control: Parliament exercises control over the finance and funds given to administration for their various activities.
i) Budget discussion: Before the financial year begins there is an 'annual financial statement' called the 'Budget' that is laid down before the houses of parliament. After that the general discussion takes place on it and all doubts are sought to be cleared. Then there is a voting done to pass it and then the funds are granted. So it is not an easy procedure to get funds.
ii) Audit Report: The CAG,an independent agency, audits all the accounts of income and expenditure of the govt at centre as well as States and causes to lay down the same before the parliament as well as legislatures of different states through the president and governor of respective states respectively to be reviewed and hold accountable the concerned people.
iii) Reports of the Estimates Committee and Public Accounts Committee of Parliament: The parliament appoints these committees from amongst themselves through voting and consensus. The PAC scrutinises the CAG's report and also reviews the financial transactions of governmental departments. Then there is an audit report compiled by the PAC that is presented for discussion and questioning before the House. The Estimates committee makes recommendations for improving organisation,securing economy and providing guidance and alternative policies and examine whether the money is well laid out within the limits of the policy implied in the estimates in the presentation of their estimates.
d) Other forms of Legislative Control:
i) Question hour - one hour,that is 11 a.m to 12 p.m. of every parliament day is reserved for questions where around 30-40 oral questions are asked normally and then there are supplementary questions along with the original question that helps cross examine the minister. It helps the public attention to focus on a particular issue and avoids ministerial and bureaucratic arrogance from creeping in.\
ii) Half an hour,short discussions,Calling attention motion - The half an hour discussion is subsequent to the question hour when there is dissatisfaction regarding a particular answer given by the concerned minister and so there is more time given to extract relevant information and ventilate public grievance,etc. Short discussions needs prior notice to the speaker and is of a matter of urgent public importance and the govt. has to reply. No voting takes place here and not more than two hours in a day can be devoted to this. The Calling Attention Motion is a tool used for drawing the govt's attention to a serious policy administration/implementation issue and the govt has to answer immediately once the motion is admitted by the speaker of the house or it may ask for time to prepare the answer if thorough detailing and understanding is required.
iii) Zero hour discussion: It happens after the question hour that is 12 p.m. and since 12 p.m. is also called zero hour therefore it is named 'Zero Hour'. Here upto five members are allowed by the Speaker to raise matters of public importance under rule 377(If in the opinion of the Speaker, any notice contains words, phrases or expressions which are argumentative, unparliamentary, ironical, irrelevant, verbose, or otherwise inappropriate, he may, in his discretion, amend such notice before it is circulated ) of the rules of parliamentary procedure.
iv) Adjournment debates: On intimation of an urgent matter for debate,the normal business of the House is adjourned and the debate on the topic ensues.
v) No-Confidence Motion: Also called censure motion. It is raised by a member or members when they express a lack of confidence in the govt for any reason.If the motion is allowed by the Speaker then the debate is held and at the end of it a vote of confidence is sought by the govt. failing which the entire cabinet/govt. has to resign thus leading to formation of a new govt.
vi) Debates on Legislation: Normal business of legislation where new laws are enacted or amendments are sought to existing laws.
e) Parliamentary Committees: Estimates and Parliament Accounts Committee we have already discussed so now we will discuss other relevant ones:
i) Committee on Assurances - It undertakes scrutiny of promises,assurances,undertakings,etc. given by the Ministers from time to time on the House floor and reports on: to the extent that they have been implemented and whether it has fulfilled the minimum conditions of its purpose. Thus making the Ministers wary of their promises and efficiently perform their duties through the administration.
ii) Committee in Subordinate Legislation - It controls and scrutinises the govt activities regarding administrative delegation of legislative powers.
LIMITATIONS TO LEGISLATIVE CONTROL:
So as we can see that the legislature keeps a stronghold on the govt as well as administration in every minute way.
Now, lets see how these are limited due to various reasons mentioned below:
1) Lack of time,staff and expertise and technical knowledge to exert effective control in the most meaningful areas.
2) No sustained measure of control and surveillance.
3) Imperial or rigid mindset of administrators and huge public illiteracy.
4) business groups lobbying.
5) Seniority instead of merit given preference for promotion of bureaucrats thus not letting them do their work with vigour and new ideas.
6) Declaration of emergency cuts their hands off.
7) Govt. bills to become laws out shadow private member's bills which are mostly for the public cause.
8) Funds are not provided many a times as the legislature lacks technical knowledge and is not able to understand the need by the executive for excess grants.
9) Parliament cannot raise money or any tax unless executive demands it but can only increase or reduce those demands.
EXECUTIVE CONTROL AND ACCOUNTABILITY:
In a parliamentary and democratic system of governance there is the political executive (govt.) and the permanent executive(bureaucracy) . Here will be discussing the political executive's control over the permanent executive where the permanent executive works under the political executive through ministries and departments and is responsible to the political executive who in turn is responsible collectively to the House of Parliament especially the House of the people or the Lok Sabha and that's how they are answerable to the people.
Lets discuss those controls in detail:
i) Recruitment and promotion system - The UPSC and state PSC's appoint and remove personnel however the general rules of appointment,eligibility,age,etc to these posts and the recruitment procedure is laid down by the govt. of the day.
ii) Executive law making: Through the process of delegated legislation as discussed above and ordinances ( rule made by the govt or president which is temporary in nature unless passed in due time by the Houses of parliament) in times of emergencies and is not questionable in a court of law however if the objective of the ordinance is not fulfilled then people can approach court for accountability.
iii) Budget: Explained before above.
iv) Staff agencies:Union Cabinet committees like Economic committee,Foreign affairs committee,etc whose task is to advise,direct and coordinate the ministries linked to the subject matter of these committees. Cabinet Secretariat which is headed by a civil servant called the Cabinet Secretary and a joint secy,two deputy secy,two under secy,two asst secy and four staff officers from the defence services.It deals with coordinating between various ministries and departments and the govt. and also maintains all details of meetings,deals with matters of organisation and personnel and presides over various committees on the behalf of the govt.
e) Civil service code for conduct and discipline:
Bureaucrats are supposed to be neutral and apolitical to carry out their duties and they have guidelines and rules laid down for correct and ethical behaviour which they follow lest they attract disciplinary action and suspension/dismission.
f) Appeal to Public Opinion: The bureaucracy is generally change resistant and likes to follow their own rules where the public is concerned and this is the reason for public dissatisfaction with the bureaucracy.Therefore,to counter this the bureaucracy is often seen being directed to coordinate with pressure groups and other voluntary organisations to carry out/implement public policy and this is how they connect with the people to maintain their status.
JUDICIAL CONTROL AND ACCOUNTABILITY:
The Courts have the authority and right as per the constitution of India to examine the legality and validity of acts of the permanent executive in order to safeguard the citizen's rights.An aggrieved citizen or party on his/her behalf can file a civil or criminal suit in the court if his rights have been violated or if any particular act of the legislature is ultra vires or unconstitutional that is is not in spirit of the constitution and has a corrupt objective it is struck down and made null and void by the courts of law.
CITIZEN AND ADMINISTRATION:
Citizens and administration are interconnected and interdependent as the job of public administration is to protect and provide services to citizens and they receive their salaries and funds from the taxes the citizens pay. And this relationship has come all the more in the limelight and importance due to the concept of welfare state.
There is generally a hostility between the two due to the rigid and high handed behaviour of public officials and the illiteracy of the public regarding their rights and political happenings that leads to the alienation between the two.
Channels of redressal for grieving citizens:
1)Redressal through parliament/legislature: It is the same as discussed above under Legislative control and accountability topic.
2) Judicial remedies: Same as discussed above under Judicial control and accountability topic. Apart from that a special mention should be given to Public Interest Litigation (PIL) where citizens who have been denied their rights due to any reason and maladministration but cannot approach the courts for relief due to social and economic constraints can approach through a group or NGO on their behalf.
3) Administrative tribunals(special court appointed by the govt): Central Administrative Tribunal deals with grievances of public or government employees(All India Services) and their service matters whereas the State & Joint Administrative Tribunals deals with employees of State public services. The Industrial Tribunals,Income Tax Tribunals,Railway rates tribunals etc deal with citizen's grievances concerned with that subject matter.
4) Lok Adalats have been set up to deal with ordinary grievances of citizens against the administration like pensions,utilities,telephones,compensation,etc and if the parties are not happy with the decision then they can approach the courts of law.
To deal with administrative corruption:
i) Central Vigilance Commission: It is headed by a Central Vigilance Commissioner and deals with grievances of citizens involving corruption and lack of integrity on the part of governmental servants.
It takes into matters even complaints against the Union govt who is ruling and is to set up an enquiry or investigation through the concerned administrative Ministry/dept vigilance officers into the matter or ask the CBI to take charge. Complaints can come directly from grieving individuals as well s from other sources like press reports,audit reports,parliamentary committee reports ,etc. Each Ministry/dept has a chief vigilance officer and he is responsible for coordinating and guiding the activities of other vigilance officers of his ministry/dept and report to the Commission from time to time. The role of the CVC is advisory in nature.
ii) Ombudsman: Appointed by the legislature and deals with complaints made against the legislature or govt. In India its forms are known as 'LOKPAL' at the central level and 'LOKAYUKTA' at the State level. The LOKPAL is to deal with all complaints of corruption made by any citizen against the ruling govt and the Union/Central Ministers as well as State Ministers regarding any action taken by them and it should not be done more than five years ago. After the investigation is complete,the report will be submitted to the Prime Minister(where complaint is against Union Minister) or a Chief Minister ( Complaint against State Minister) as the case maybe. If the complaint is frivolous and based on malafide then it can be rejected and the complainant penalised or tried in a court of law.
However,sadly this bill is yet not passed in both the Houses due to obvious reasons.
The LOKAYUKTA deals with State level corruption complaints against State Ministers. The setting up of Lokayukta offices in the states is sparse and still many do not have one.
GRIEVANCE CELLS IN VARIOUS MINISTRIES AND DEPARTMENTS:
For speedy justice many ministries and departments of govt n centre as well as state have set up grievance cells headed by a grievance officer.
ROLE OF MEDIA:
Media is a collective/plural word for medium. And by media here we mean the various mediums of mass communication which is news channels,newspapers,radios,journals,magazines,etc. It airs public views and is a medium of connection between citizens and the State. It has wide reach. State policies and public views on it are disseminated through the media and thus helps both parties effectively leading to development of the country.It holds the political and permanent executive accountable to the people through its forums for debates,discussions and polls,etc.
There is the State controlled media that is the govt media which is more than often biased and then there is the pvt funded media that does lobbying for its investors and there is the independent media that is free from govt or corporate control and are small in reach.
However,what worries the people many a times is when the media resorts to unfair means and gets corrupt ending up as mouthpieces of various politicians and corporate houses. Therefore, It is necessary to regulate them from time to time regarding ownership and management. There should be a code of conduct along with a grievance redressal cell for each office of the public media. Local and folk media should be encouraged.
Interest group refers to virtually any voluntary association that seeks to publicly promote and create advantages for its cause. It applies to a vast array of diverse organizations. This includes corporations, charitable organizations, civil rights groups, neighborhood associations, professional and trade associations. They often resort to legal and illegal means,violent or peaceful and make the govt bow down to their cause and make a certain policy or amend certain policies by putting pressure on the govt and administration via their sheer number and financial as well as political strength.
There are two types of Interest Groups:
1) Sectional Interest Groups: Work for interests of a particular section like for example writers association or teacher's association,etc.
2) Promotional Interest Group: Work for public good and not any particular section. Example - Group against child labour,etc.
They help in holding the govt and administration accountable because people have confidence in them.
Voluntary association or union (also sometimes called a voluntary organization, unincorporated association, or just an association) is a group of individuals who enter into an agreement as volunteers to form a body (or organization) to accomplish a purpose. They are to confirm to a certain requirement. There should be a formal structure and the members should be free of any vested or personal interests and work for the public good.
Three types of Voluntary organisations:
a) Service oriented voluntary organisations - Provide certain services like care of old age people,orphans,etc.
b) Mutual Aid Voluntary organisations - Collectively help each other like for example self help groups.
c) Resources and Coordination providing voluntary organisations - Specifically provide expertise and information relating to something for public purpose for example micro finance institutions,etc.
Good governance has brought these organisations into the limelight and they are of great importance to the govt while formulating as well as implementing policies as they are close to the people and have their trust and have grass root level expertise and knowledge of issues and help in people participation. Thus they hold the govt and administration accountable in various times by ensuring public participation and making administration transparent.
Civil society is the arena outside of the family, the state, and the market where people associate to advance common interests. It is sometimes considered to include the family and the private sphere and then referred to as the "third sector" of society, distinct from government and business.Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon defines civil society as 1) the aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens or 2) individuals and organizations in a society which are independent of the government. Sometimes the term is used in the more general sense of "the elements such as freedom of speech, an independent judiciary, etc, that make up a democratic society".
NGO's and NPO's are part of civil society. However there is no unanimous view to define civil society and it keeps changing.
The civil society also does include political parties and professional organisations. They help encourage public interest and participation and helps in formulation and implementation of policies of govt. as well as bring core issues of concern in the eyes of the govt to take care of.
It is a charter that seeks to make administration people friendly and incorporates the following in it to enforce the above:
1) Responsibilities of an agency
2) Standards while performing these responsibilities.
3) Mechanisms for grievance redressals.
It began in UK with the mission that administration should be responsive.
For a successful citizens charter it should possess six major principles:
a) Setting the standards - Standardisation of services so that there is a standard maintained and nobody falls below that.
b) Information and openness- Citizens should get all relevant information.
c) Choice and consultation-People should be consulted while formulating as well as running it in order to gauge its effectiveness else it is redundant because it is made for the people only.
d) Putting things right-Things should be made right and done the correct way
e) Value for money-The money charged should not be exorbitant and should satisfy the consumer.
f) Courtesy and helpfulness- The personnel should be courteous and helpful always.
In India this mechanism is yet to be developed and matured and the organisations that possess it either do not display it or people are not aware of it and thus are fooled by the employees.
RIGHT TO INFORMATION:
It is the citizen's right to know and right to information regarding administration and its performance.
This has helped bring immense transparency and efficiency in the administration since it was implemented in 2005 in India. It was hailed that the fundamental rights of ' freedom to speech and expression' as well as right to life cannot be fulfilled and safeguarded without relevant information.
Tamil Nadu was the first to implement this act in its state and now almost all states have followed suit. Each central level government office or organisation has to have a RTI cell headed by a Public Information Officer who will receive RTI's from common citizens and is to disseminate the relevant information within the time specified usually 30 days to provide an answer to the appellant. But if there is a threat to life of the applicant than that information is to be provided within 48 hours and if the information is regarding a third party then it has to be provided within 45 days.
The RTI department is headed at the Central level by the Chief Information Officer and his subordinates.
At the state level there is the State Chief Public Information Officer and his subordinates.
If the applicant does not receive a answer or does not receive a satisfactory answer where information is denied then he/she can approach the appellate authority which are:
a) First appellate authority: Should be an officer senior to that of the Public Information officer in that agency and designated as the appellate authority.
b) Second appellate authority: If still unsatisfied or denied information the applicant can then approach directly to the State Chief Public Information Commissioner and then the Central Chief Information commissioner which is provided on the website of each govt. organisation and the Chief Information Commissioner's official website.
The tenures of the Chief Information Commissioner and his State counterparts are secured for 5 years or 65 years,whichever comes earlier. They are appointed by the President on consultation with PM,opposition leader and cabinet ministers.
At the state level,the authorities are appointed by the Governor and a committee appointed by the governor. They are not eligible for reappointment but a State Chief Information Commissioner can be promoted to the rank of Central Chief Information Commissioner but still it should be within his 5 years tenure. They can be removed from office for proven misconduct by the president at centre and governor for state level.
In case of delaying information,destroying evidence,malafide information provided,denying information by any agency or organisation of the centre or state govt like UPSC,UKPSC,RAILWAYS,etc then the Chief Information Commissioner of centre as well as states can penalise the Public Information officers of those organisations and other officers there to the tune of rs 250 per day to maximum rs 25000 which will be recovered from their salary/pension. The commission's verdict can be challenged in the High Court and Supreme Court.
Only restricted information can be withheld from the public that can cause:
a) Contempt of court
b) Affects national safety and security
c) Affects Intellectual property rights and trade secrets and competition
d) Affects privacy of individuals
e) Breaches the privileges provided by the constitution to the elected representatives
Any act which goes contrary to the RTI act will be considered null and void ( the acts are section 5 of the official secrets act and Indian evidence act).
If an application has been sent to the wrong dept then also it cannot be rejected and it is the duty of the receiver to redirect it to the concerned dept and PIO within 5 days as the information has to be provided to the applicant within 30 days.
If there are some information that cannot be provided for the above mentioned reasons in an application but 2-3 other questions can be answered then the whole application will not be rejected and the relevant information will be provided for those 2-3 questions.
However,people need to be educated and should on their own get educated about this act and mechanism and there needs to be a proper system that should be in place and also there is a lot of corruption that goes on here as a corrupt officer does not worry about giving rs 25000 and file notes are put on files and then removed as and when required when it is to be said that do not provide this information,so the culprit is not able to be caught. Therefore, stringent measures are needed. People need to be educated that if they are not satisfied by anything and all rules have been violated after the application was made then they should approach the courts and sort things out only then this corruption will end.
Audit is a mechanism to appraise loyalty of expenditure and revenue to check whether the mandate has been followed as specified and the purpose is achieved.
Different types of audit:
a) Regulatory audit: To check whether there is fraudulent activities going on.
b) Proprietary audit : Money may not have been spent economically and is wasted. This audit helps check that.
c) Performance audit: Nature of spending or earning may not come out with the required result/objective. This type of audit helps check the functional(job related) and structural level(organisation) in performance and increases efficiency.
Social audit is a contemporary version of Audit and not only takes into consideration economical activities but also social and cultural aspects by taking a holistic view of policy impact. It does a detailed study of socio-politico-economic-psychological dimensions of the society and also the environmental dimensions in order to bring about true development of the country and its people.
To conduct a social audit proper and measurable indicators as well as techniques and skills/expertise as well as unbiasedness are required and are employed by bringing in civil society too along with the government. Panchayats are a big help in this. Once problems are identified then actions and steps are taken that are relevant to cure and prevent the issue from cropping up in future.
Click on ' JOIN THIS SITE ' to get instant updates on new posts on this blog. And also for 'INTERACTIONS AND DISCUSSIONS' regarding this blog's posts 'JOIN ITS FACEBOOK COMMUNITY/GROUP' that is mentioned on the right hand side of this page.
The next blog will cover:
Meaning, scope and significance; Dicey on Administrative law; Delegated legislation; Administrative Tribunals.