Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nripendra Misra, has asked the secretaries in all ministries to pay special attention to time-bound requests from the PMO — and send back crisp and accurate replies on time. He has also asked them to “preferably” approve the responses at their own level, firmly placing accountability for every communication going out to the PMO.
“While there are standing instructions of the Cabinet Secretariat on the level at which responses from ministries should be approved, it is preferable if responses for which time lines have been mentioned are approved at your level,” says Misra in his June 18 letter to the secretaries.
While inputs on certain issues — like on the President’s address — requires the minister’s approval, on a range of issues ministry joint secretaries also send updates to the PMO with the secretary’s approval. The new communication, accessed by The Indian Express, indicates the secretary’s approval will be necessary on almost all documents moving out.
In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governance model, the secretary is clearly emerging as the key player. Modi began his term in office with one-on-one interactions and power point presentations with secretaries. It is learnt that the system will be continued, placing responsibility of the ministry with the top officer rather than just the minister. The BJP manifesto also says “the administration and its members will be made truly accountable to their tasks as well as the people through rigorous evaluation process”.
The PMO also does not quite favour lengthy prefaces. “It is also desirable that the responses are brief, succinct and answer the issue that has been raised,” says the Principal Secretary’s letter. Pointing out that often responses are sought within specific and indicated time frames, he says, “I would like you to pay special attention to such time-bound requests from the Prime Minister’s Office and ensure that the required information is sent in time.”