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Secretariat


Secretariat nerve-centre of the administrative machinery and all governmental activities. It includes primarily the policy level organisations when referred to collectively. Before the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971, the provincial government of East Pakistan was virtually a replica of the central government of Pakistan. It had a Secretariat consisting of several departments headed by provincial ministers when popularly elected government was in place. After liberation the existing structure of the provincial administration was transformed into an administration of national government.

The proclamation of independence issued effective from 10 April 1971 provided for a provisional government under the leadership of Acting President syed nazrul islam with its headquarters located at mujibnagar. The provisional government had a Secretariat with different ministries/divisions. It was shifted to Dhaka in liberated Bangladesh soon after the surrender of Pakistan's occupation forces on 16 December 1971. Immediately after the return of Bangabandhu sheikh mujibur rahman from West Pakistani jail on 10 January 1972, the provisional government was dissolved under the Provisional Constitution of Bangladesh Order 1972, which in effect provided for the formation of a parliamentary system of government. By late January 1972, an enlarged new cabinet was formed and the Secretariat was reorganised with 19 ministries. The number of ministries and divisions increased to 38 and 46 respectively by the year 1999.

The allocation of functions among the ministries/ divisions is made in accordance with the rules of business issued by the President in exercise of his powers conferred under Article 55 (b) of the Constitution. Moreover, a separate document called secretariat instructions, issued by the government under rule 4 (x) of the Rules of Business, provides the manner of disposal of governmental business in the Secretariat and its various attached departments. The role of the Secretariat includes policy formulation, planning, evaluation of plan under execution, assisting the ministers in the discharge of their responsibilities to the Jatiya Sangsad, personnel management at the top level, and such other matters as may be determined by the Prime Minister from time to time.

The Prime Minister may, whenever necessary, constitute a ministry consisting of one or more divisions. For efficient disposal of business allocated to a ministry/ division, it is divided into 'wings', 'branches' and 'sections'. A wing is a major self-contained sub-division of a ministry/division for conducting specified duties of a distinct nature and headed by a joint secretary or an additional secretary. A branch means several sections grouped together which is headed by a deputy secretary or an officer of equivalent rank, whereas a section is the basic working unit headed by an assistant secretary/ senior assistant secretary.

The Prime Minister takes charge of certain ministries and assigns a division or a ministry or more than one division or ministry to a minister or a minister of state. The minister is responsible for conducting the business of his ministry/division unless otherwise directed by the Prime Minister. No important policy decision is taken without the approval of the cabinet.

The secretary is the administrative head of a ministry/ division. He is responsible for its administration and discipline and for proper conduct of business assigned to it. He is also responsible for careful observance of the Rules of Business in his ministry/division and attached departments and subordinate offices. The secretary keeps the minister-in-charge informed of the working of the ministry/division.

The secretary is also the principal accounting officer of the ministry/division, including the attached departments and subordinate offices, and ensures that funds allocated to the ministry/division, attached departments and the subordinate offices are spent in accordance with the budgetary provisions and the existing account rules. The secretary is responsible for the collection, examination, analysis, evaluation and synthesization of the data, facts and figures, and the evidences on which the minister formulates the policy or decision. Once the policy is adopted, the secretary is responsible to observe that it is executed and to that end he/she is expected to give necessary instructions to the heads of attached departments who are actually responsible for the execution of all policies. He is also empowered to organise his ministry/division into a number of working units as well as to distribute work of the division/ministry among various wings, branches and sections under his overall charge. The secretary determines the nature and extent of delegation of powers to officers serving under him and issues clear standing orders laying down these powers and also the manner of disposal of cases in the ministry/division.

An additional secretary/ a joint secretary within his sphere assumes full responsibility and submits all cases directly to the minister for orders. Such cases will be returned to him through the secretary. The secretary has the power to call for any case from the additional secretary/joint secretary for his own consideration and to request that he is consulted in any particular case before it is submitted to the minister. A deputy secretary is empowered to dispose of all cases in which no major question of policy is involved or which, under the rules or standing orders he is competent to dispose of. An assistant secretary/senior assistant secretary can dispose of all cases where there are clear precedents, and no question of deviation from such precedent is involved. In case of doubt, he may seek instructions from his superior officer. An assistant secretary/senior assistant secretary is ordinarily assisted by an administrative officer and other staff.

Each division/ministry, if so required, is composed of a planning wing headed by a joint secretary/ joint chief and he is generally assisted by a deputy chief, an assistant chief and research officers. The planning wing is entrusted with the responsibilities of preparation of Annual Development Programmes and project documents. It also supervises and monitors the execution of development projects. The posts of secretary, additional secretary, joint secretary, deputy secretary are held by the members of various cadre services in the secretariat. On 1 September 1980 the government introduced a unified career service designated as Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) with 28 cadres and sub-cadres. Subsequently the BCS was reorganised and the number of service cadres increased to 29.

However, before the creation of the BCS, a new apex service cadre called Senior Services Pool (SSP) had been created symbolizing a senior-level 'open civil service system', consisting of top administrative posts in the Secretariat, as well as certain percentage of administrative posts in different executive departments and district and divisional offices. The members of the SSP were qualified for all posts of deputy secretary, joint secretary, additional secretary and secretary in the Secretariat, except for two ministries, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. Initially the members of the CSP, EPCS and EPSS were inducted to SSP automatically. To accommodate the officers of other service cadres to the top administrative posts of the Secretariat, the government abolished the SSP in 1989 and introduced the reservation of quota of the posts of deputy secretary and joint secretary for all cadre services.

The posts of secretary and additional secretary remained open for officers of all service cadres. Initially 95 posts of joint secretary out of 159 and 245 posts of deputy secretary out of 377 were kept reserved for the BCS administration cadre. In 1998, the government decided to keep 75% of posts of deputy secretary and 70% of posts of joint secretary for the BCS administration and the remaining posts for the officers of other cadres. The junior posts below the posts of deputy secretary such as assistant secretary/senior assistant secretary are to be filled mainly by the officers of the BCS administration cadre. Some of the posts of assistant secretary are also filled by persons drawn from the non-cadre secretariat service. The posts of deputy chief, senior assistant chief/assistant chief and research officer are reserved for the officers of BCS economic cadre. The officers of the BCS information cadre are also posted to every ministry as information officers. Apart from the officers mentioned above, the different classes of employees are recruited to every ministry/division for the posts of administrative officer, personal officer, steno-typist and messenger.

The implementation of the policies as adopted by the division/ministries is normally carried out by a number of executive agencies. These agencies are generally designated as attached departments and subordinate offices. Attached department means the department that has direct relation with a ministry/division and has been declared as such by the government. Attached departments are generally responsible for providing executive directions in the implementation of policies laid down by the ministry/ division to which they are attached. They also provide the technical information and advise their parent ministry/division on technical aspects of business transacted by the latter. A subordinate office is an office of the government which has not been declared as attached department and normally does not deal directly with any ministry/division. Subordinate offices generally work as field agencies responsible for detailed execution of government policies. They normally function under the direction of attached departments. However, some subordinate offices are also placed directly under the concerned ministries/divisions in view of the fact that the volume of executive work in such offices is not considerable.

There are other types of organisations ie, autonomous and semi-autonomous bodies, and public corporations which are created to perform certain specialized public functions or implement specific development programs. These organisations may be of various types either commercial, promotional or regulatory. The relationship between the ministries/divisions and these bodies is regulated by guidelines issued by the government. [Ayub Miah]