Public Administration : Chief Executive Essay

Public Administration : Chief Executive Essay.

Governmental power is three-fold, legislative, to make laws; judicial and to interpret the and to execute or carry out those laws. There is a separate organ which will look after each function

function, but the separation is not rigid. A complete separation would lead to perpetual deadlocks in administration. Thus there are various points of contact between all the three organs of the government to ensure smooth functioning of governmental programmes. With expanding complexity of the activities of the modern State, the Legislature is not in a position to have direct dealings with the administrator and so is the executive branch which is becoming more and more powerful.

The modern State assigns a variety of functions to the executive. Thus it has become a vital part of the government.

In this unit, we shall analyse the functions of the chief executive in the light of the differences between the real and the nominal executive. The unit will also highlight the growing strength and importance of the chief exccutive.

We shall also discuss the need for staff and line agencies for advising the chief executive and in carrying out his policies. The unit will enable the student to understand the crucial role of chief executive in the task of administration. We will also come to know the factors and forces behind the chief executive at the Union, State and local levels. The executive is that branch of government which is charged with the execution of taws. It consists of various administrative agencies which are involved in the implementation of the laws. According to F.A. Nigro, “the executive branch of government in Public Administration is a truly visible form”. The executive branch of the government includes the chief executive and the civil servants who execute the laws made by the legislature. Thus the role of the executive is of paramount importance. .

By ‘chief executive’ we mean the person or body of persons at the head of the administrative system of a country. The administrative hierarchy of a country resemb1es.a pyramid, broad at the base and tapering off towards the top till it ends at a single point, the apex. The chief executive is at the apex of the administrative pyramid. He is a person or persons in whom the executive power has been authoritatively vested for performing various functions. In a political system, the person or persons in whom the constitution vests the executive power of the government is the chief executive. In public or private organisations, the person who is at the top position with the major responsibility of carrying out the work of organisations is the chief executive. The chief executive has to perform various political and administrative functions.

He occupies a central position in Public Administration. He determines the goals of the organisation, prepares plans, determines the tasks, fixes priorities, takes crucial decisions, mobilises resources, recryits personnel, coordinates the work of all the departments under him, motivates the personnel, provides leadership and supervises .[1] the implementation of plans. He sees that goals of organisation are achieved with maximum efficiency and optimum use of resources. The success or failure of an organisation, therefore, depends on the dynamic nature and character of the chief executive.

The type of executive varies with the form of government. In a dictatorship, the chief executive comes to power through a military coup and continues to be in power through army support. Modern democracies have either a Presidential or a Parliamentary/ Collegiate executive, which is chosen from, and responsible to, an eIected legislature. The parliamental and Presidential.


In countries like India and the UK, with parliamentary system,the chief executive consists of the Prime Minister and other Ministers. The Prime Minister heads the cabinet in these countries. There is a close, continuous and intimate executive legislative relationship as the cabinet is accountable to parliament in the parliamentary system.

President of US can be impeached and removed from office by the legislature i.e. the US Congress by two-third majority. In the USA, for instance, because of the system of checks and balances, Congress, the President and the judiciary have become separate. entities independent of each other.

The Titular and the Real Chief Executives

In parliamentary form of government, all executive power is vested in the titular or constitutional head in theory and all decisions arc supposed to be taken in his name. It means that the head, whether it is the King or the President can exercise his powers only on tbs advice of the ministers and not independently. Thus, though the Constitution vests the powers with ihe President or the King, in practice these are not his real powers and cannot be exercised by him without the consent, of ministers. The chief executive in this sys te.~re mains titular or nominal.

The real executiveis the Council of Ministers or the Cabinet to which the legal powers of titular executive pass, It means that legally he does not havepny powers but in practice exercises ail tfnepowers vested in the titular head. In England, the Queen andin India, the President are the titular chiefs and in both the countries the real executive is the cabinet headed by the Prirne Minister.

In countries like the USA, the President is the real chief executive, as the powers legally vested in him are also exercised by him independently.

Single and Plural Chief Executives

In countries where parliamentary system of government prevails, the real chief executive is the cabinet which is a plural body. Thc body comprises the Prime Minister and other ministers. The Prime Minister works on the advice of his ministers. Unlike this, the chief executive in the Presidential system of government (like in the USA) is: single individual, the President. Though he functions under the system of separatiom of powers and checks and balances, he takes his decisions in an independent manner.


The type of executives discussed so far are present at the Union or Central level. Besides these, there are various executives at other levels, the study of which is also important. The local executive, assumes different forms in different countries and is variously designated. It can be single or plural, political or administrative, elective or . re-elective. The executive shares two types of powers and functions: political and administrative.

The local executive can be classified as single executive when political authority is vested in a single person. The American, the European and the Japanese Mayors, the Indian Chairman of Zila Parishads and of Panchayat Samitis are examples of single and strong political executives. The plural executive consists of a group of individuals, one of whom is chosen as its chairman. The plural type is illustrated by the committee system of executive under the English local bodies.

‘ Apart from the political executives, at the other end of the spectrum are the municipal commissioners/the chief executive officers in the district development officers of Indian local authorities, the city managers of the USA and the chief executives of the U.K. They offer effective administrative leadership, sharing some executive powers which are political in character.

Thus the local executives, may be political on the one hand and non-political, official or expert on the other: The American mayor, the committees of the English local bodies and the heads of the English local bodies are. political. There are executives who are primarily administrative like the American city manager and chief executive[2] officers of looal authorities in India, who are appointed by the State government.

There are local executives who are strong, others which are weak. The involvement of thk executive in administration also makes it a strong executive. Its relationship with the local council is another factor which determines the position and status of the executive. It can be said,that an effective local executive can be one that combines ‘ . strong political leadership with professional leadership. But the Indian’rural local authorities are provided with strong leadership both in politics and administration with two separate positions present i.e, politician and professional administrator. In India, the city municipal corporations which are known for effective administrative leadership with the Municipal Commissioner as their chief administrator, suffer from ineffective political leadership as the executive authority is dispersed among various municipal authorities.


The chief executive is the head of the country and in that capacity have far reaching legislative, executive and judicial powers granted by the Constitution of the country. Besides him there are numerous lesser chief executives at the state and local levels who also have to perform various legislative, executive and judicial functions in their respective areas. The nature and quantity of functions keep changing at every level. In companies or corporations the chief executive has the important task of interpreting the policy of the Board of Directors to the rest of the management and the general public. He has to ensure that policies and programmes laid down by the board of directors have been understood by all the employees. He has to devise the various procedures of organisation and determine its structure. The chief executive, at any level has a dual role to play i.e. political as well as administrative.

Political Functions

The source of political power under democracy is primarily the people themselves and secondarily the legislature which is the representative body of the people. The chief executive obtains his office through the votes of his people. It means that the office of the chief executive is the end-result of apolitical process. For executive discharge of the duties of his office and proper working of the administration, the chief executive needs the support of the legislature and the people. Therefore, he must always work for winning :he support of the legislature and the electorate. The chief executive has to perform his[3] activities by keeping in view the public interest as well as the interest of the nation. Administration cannot run smoothly unless there is interaction between the people and the administration. Thus, political management is one of the most important functions of the chief executive.

we mentioned earlier, chief executive also exits at other levels e.g., in public organisations, private enterprises etc. At these levels too, the chief executive has an important political role to perform. In actual practice, the chief executive in a parliamentary form of government performs many functions which the head or heads of the public or private organisation (which ran be a general manager, managing director or a secretary) perform. The executive in a parliamentary system is controlled by the legislature and in an organisation it is controlled by the Board of Directors.

Even though the chief executive in public organisations, is not a result of political process. he has to interact with peoplc, press etc., to run the organisation. He mobilises the efforts of the personnel to achieve organisational goals. This means that political role of a chief executive is very crucial and he cannot avoid it, whether it is at the national level, state level or local levels. His political function of galvanising the entire administration to action in pursuit of the accepted goals and objectives and winning the people’s support and consent thus assumes importance.

Administrative Functions

The chief executive has to perform a number of administrative functions. Luther Gullick sums up these functions in thc acronym POSDCORB, which has been referred to in the earliar units. Marshall Dinlock summarises these function is none sentence: “He is a trouble shooter, a supervisor and a promoter of the future programme”. We will now discuss the major functions of the chief executive in some detail.

F’orrnulation of Administrative. Policy

One of the major functions of the chief executive is the determination and formulation of administrative policy. He issues a number of specific policy directions, written or oral, which enable the administrative officers to perform their duties in a proper manner. They actually serve as a guide to administration. Thc chief executive is consulted by the departmental heads and other administrative officers on certain important and controversial matters. His ability and personality has close bearing on administrative efficiency. The Iegislature only enacts laws in general terms. The executive fills them with details to make then fit for application.

Deciding the Details of Organisation

The legislature provides for the establishment of main units of organisation, like[4] departments, commissions and corporations for the implementation of various laws. But the details of internal organisation are to be filled in by the chief executive. Thc chief executive can also create new administrative agencies or reorganise the existing ones. The chief executive also prescribes, how the operating personnel shall perform certain or all of their duties. Thus the chief executive authorises the structure of the organisation.

Issuing Directives, Proclamations, Orders etc.

In order to make any decision really meaningful, it is necessary to convert it into effective action, which the chief executive achieves by directing. The chief executive issues directives, proclamations, orders etc. to make the administrative activities conform to the statutory provisions, directives, circulars etc. and to help in bringing about uniformity in the behaviour of people involved in the implementation of policies and programmes. The kind and number of directives, orders etc. issued by the chief executive sets up the tone of the adminristration.He has to direct the personnel to start or stop or modify an activity..

Appointment and Removal of Personnel

It is the responsibility of the chief executive to see that the heads of different Departments perform their duties sincerely and efficiently. Hence he also has the power to select the officers. In almost all the countries the chief executive makes appointments to higher offices. In India, all important appointments such as that of State Governors, Ambassadors, Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court and State High Courts, the Attorney General, the Chairman and members of the Union Public Service Commission are made by the chief executive. Recruitment of administrators to other ranks is made by Public Service Commission on the basis of competitive examinations. So even where merit system of recruitment normally prevails, key appointments are made by the chief executive.

In public and private organisations, key appointments are made by the chief executive. The recruitment of personnel is done under his supervision and with his due consent. The chief executive also has the power of dismissal or demotion of public servants, if he finds it necessary in the interests of administrative efficiency. Dismissals are subject to certain constitutional arrangements. In the removal of personnel of the lower cadre he is guided by the Civil Service Rules.

Coordination of Various Executive Activities

Modern administration consists of various departments, commissions, divisions and sections each performing a specialised part of the function. In order to create unity in[5] this huge mass of diversified activities, a very high degree of coordination and integration is needed. The chief executive has to bring harmony, settle conflicts and guard against overlapping and duplication in administrative activities. For this, he may create inter-departmental committees .and other coordinating agencies at various levels. Thus coordination is one of the most important functions of the chief executive. It is his foremost duty to see that numerous activities undertaken by several departments in implementation of a particular policy lead to fulfilment of administrative goals.

Public Administration : Chief Executive Essay

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