Step by step: How a file moves in a minister's office

456 temporary employees made permanent, more in line as LDF govt fast-tracks process

In Kerala, the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has just started its second stint. When he assumed the chief minister's office for the first time in 2016 he had famously said that the officials need to understand that there's a life in each file. He apparently wanted to bring an end to the red-tapism for which the government machinery as a whole is infamous for. Now, when the state is keenly watching the first steps of the second Pinarayi government, let's take a look at how a file moves through the system.

1. Personal staff to assist 

• Personal staff are deployed to assist the ministers. The ministers will allocate the subjects in their respective departments to the special private secretary, additional private secretaries, and assistant private secretaries. They will look into the file, which will be sent to the Minister via the private secretary.

• Personal staff do not have the authority to make noting on the file or take decisions. Based on their notes, the minister will sign the file.

• The personal staff can pass down the file along with a special note prepared on the minister's directives. The note will say the minister's directive.

2. If a memorandum is received

• If the ministers receive a memorandum, they can give an order on what action needs to be taken on that itself.

• If more scrutiny is needed, the private secretary will send the file to the secretary of the department concerned.

• If it requires the opinion of the departmental head, then the file would be sent to the departmental head’s office. If the opinion of the Collector or the district officers of the department is needed, then the file would be routed to their offices.

• After all of them study the file, their opinions would be sent to the Secretariat via the departmental head. The department secretary will check this file and take a decision. If a decision cannot be taken at the secretary-level, then the file would be handed over to the minister.

3. Department secretary to issue orders

Once the minister takes the decision, the private secretary will send it to the department secretary to issue the government order. Either the department secretary or other designated officers (such as additional secretary, joint secretary, and under secretary) would issue the order.

4. Referred to other departments 

If the file needs approval by the finance department or law department, it would be referred to the respective ministers. The Finance and Law ministers will send the file to the department secretaries. After getting their inputs, the Finance and Law ministers would note their opinion and return the file to the minister of the parent department. Based on this, the minister can take a decision and issue the order.

5. File to the chief minister

If a decision has to be taken at the CM-level, the file would be sent to the chief minister. If the chief minister has the authority to take a decision on his own, he can give the order and send it to the Minister.

• If the issue needs a policy decision, the chief minister will direct the file to be taken up at the cabinet meet. Subsequently, the private secretary will send the file to the chief secretary. 

• The cabinet note prepared by the chief secretary will be considered during the cabinet meet. 

• If the cabinet meet takes a decision, the chief secretary will prepare the minutes of it. Along with the minutes, the file would be handed over to the secretary of the department concerned. The department secretary will issue the government order.

• The file progress can be tracked on the website

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