Organisation and Methods (or O&M as it is commonly called) is “a specialised service of investigation analysis and advice to administration aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation which employs it”. Organisation and methods has also been defined as “the systematic application of common sense to business problems. Its results are beneficial to the management and the staff alike. O&M pays intelligent and critical attention to not only what is done but also to the question as to how it is done and at what cost in terms of time, labour and money. It pays attention to the design of the machine and its working processes apart from its end products. The above definitions when analysed and applied to Public Administration imply that O&M is an effort concerned with the organisation of public bodies and their office procedures with a view to improve both.

Purposes of O&M

On analysis of the above definitions, the following purposes can be identified :

  • O&M is an advisory system to management and its purpose is to advise on the most effective organisation for controlling and co-ordinating the administrative elements of various functions of the organisations.
  • To advise on the detailed methods and procedures to enable those functions to be operated with maximum effectiveness.
  • To ensure that changes in organisation and or methods which have been agreed are properly implemented.

Functions of O&M

The chief functions of O&M are usually the followings :

  1. Simplification of Procedures. O&M analyses office procedures and suggests ways and means for their simplification.
  2. Elimination of Delay. Inherent in any bureaucratic system are undue delays due to red-tapism. It is the function of the O&M to suggest methods to eliminate or atleast minimise delays.
  3. Quick Disposal of Files. Due to the rule of the proper channel, files in the Government take a long time to get disposed. O&M is expected to study the movement of files and suggests measures for this quick disposal.
  4. Maintaining and Preserving Records. In order to achieve proper control, it is necessary that proper records should be maintained for all activities of the Government. It is also necessary that records should be preserved in such a way that they are easily accessible. One of the functions of O&M is to recommend better methods of maintaining and preserving records e.g. file numbering, indexing of records, colour scheming, etc.
  5. Facilitates Increased Delegation of Authority. O&M has to suggest ways to increase delegation of authority and responsibility at appropriate levels.
  6. Undertaking Research. O&M also undertakes research into organisational and procedural problems with a view to improve efficiency by suggesting better patterns of organisation and improved method of work.
  7. Training of Personnel. O&M is a specialist activity and it requires specialists who are trained in their work. It is the function of O&M to train its own personnel so that the work of O&M can go on successfully.
  8. Dissemination of Information. Another important function of O&M is to collect and disseminate information relating to O&M work and activities. This is usually done by the publication of O&M journals, bulletins, guides research materials and other literature relating to the theory and practice of O&M work.

In short, O&M is concerned with getting at the best organisation and the best method by which the work of the government can be done with atleast cost and labour.

Nature of O&M

O&M is a specialised service that involves investigation by specialists on behalf of the administration, both to provide advice and to solve problems with the sole aim of improving effectiveness and efficiency of operation, by producing proposals for planned changes within the organisation. If O&M have to be effective, it is necessary that the administrators understand the nature of O&M.

The following points outline the nature of O&M :

  1. O&M is only a part of the entire Government effort

O&M should not be regarded as a substitute for all round management improvement. O&M is only a part of the entire governmental efforts to improve administrative efficiency.

Hence O&M cannot be held solely responsible for effecting improvements in administration. To quote Appleby, “Efficiency specialists have an important place in Government; but no efficiency engineer will ever solve the principal problems of Government. The problems of the Government are to be solved relatively and progressively by the combined effort or scholars, specialists, administrators, politicians and the public”.

  1. O&M is primarily a service function

O&M provide an independent objective and impartial advisory service to administration. It is primarily a service function. It should not be seen as an imposition from above.

  1. O&M is essentially advisory

O&M are primarily a staff function and it should seek acceptance of its suggestions from the line officers by the standard of service which it gives.

  1. O&M is not a fault finding mission

It is essential that O&M should be recognised as a work improvement study and not as a fault finding mission. O&M activists should not assume a superior position of a fault- finder or a critic. But their role is that of a friend and helper who is ready and willing to assist the agencies in solving their problems.

  1. O&M is organised common-sense

O&M function is a common human endeavour to find out better ways of doing things, rather than being over — technical and mysterious. It should be simple and cogent, thus, enabling the layman to understand it clearly.

Techniquest of O&M

The principal techniquest of O&M are: Management or Organisation

  1. Survey
  2. Inspection
  3. Forms Control
  4. Filing System
  5. Automation
  6. Work Simplification

i) Organisation Survey

A management survey is a systematic method of analysis of one or more organisational functions and/or procedures. It is initiated for the purpose of identifying problems, determining their causes and developing solutions.

The following are the basic types of organisation survey:

1. Reconnaissance Survey. It is a preliminary survey that helps in achieving the scope of study and fixing the targets. The basic purpose for preliminary survey are:

  • To get a better understanding of the scope of the investigation so that O&M department can calculate its involvement and the time the assignment requires.
  • To get basic data and background information.
  • To assess whether or not the assignment is worthwhile – what are the costs, what are the likely benefits; whether the time to be spent is justified? Etc.

2. Overall Survey

Overall survey includes complete analysis of policies, organisational structures, control, procedures and physical facilities and arrangements.

A detailed list of the information to be collected would include –

(a) Organisational Information

  • Purpose and objectives and role in the overall organisation.
  • Relationship with other departments within the company.
  • Relationships outside the agency, e. g. suppliers, clients, customers, etc.
  • Organisation structure, number of posts, grades and vacancies.
  • Job descriptions and specification of duties.

(b) Methods Information

  • Systems and procedures recorded in some detail.
  • Machines equipment and materials used.
  • Paper work, forms and documents, files and records.
  • Accommodation, layouts and working conditions.
  • Movement of work and movement of people.

(c) Performance Information

  • Volume of work
  • Allocation of time
  • Flow of work and analysis
  • Quality of work and number of errors
  • Detailed costing delays

(d) Environmental Information

  • Markets
  • Consumer or user needs, attitudes, tastes, etc.
  • Statutory requirements.
  • Influence of pressure groups, consumer organisations, etc.
  • Social responsibility

3. Performance Survey

Often referred to as a periodical medical check up, it is an appraisal of the manner in which work in an organisation is being performed.

4. Organisation Survey

It basically deals with the structure of an organisation and problems that arise due to that structure, viz., levels of authority, span of control, division of functions, etc.

5. Functional Survey

It is an examination of a single function like stores, accounts, personnel and purchasing.

6. Procedural Survey

It is a survey of procedures, systems and methods.

7. Attitude Survey

It is a survey that seeks to first analyse the motives of the employee in an organisation. Its basic motive is to judge the suitability of personnel policies and effectiveness of supervision and control.

8. Follow-up Survey

The follow-up survey is undertaken by the management when it desires to know the impact of the changes introduced by it. It is necessarily a feedback survey that enables the correction of O&M methods and procedures.

ii) Management Inspection

Management inspection is often regarded as an important function of O&M. The scope of inspection is generally limited to:

  1. Verification. It is a task inspection to verify whether the previous recommendations of O&M have been implemented properly.
  2. Assisting Personnel. Inspection also involves helping the personnel in implementing the recommendations.
  3. Acting as a feedback agent. Inspection is also expected to obtain necessary feedback for suitably amending the recommendation of O&M.

It is important to note that O&M inspection is different from administrative inspection. Administrative inspection is the means of judging the performance of administration, whereas O&M inspection is a tool for improvement of efficiency.

iii) Forms Control

In order to achieve impersonality in administration, it is necessary that there should be a clear system of rules and regulations. These rules and regulations have to be put down on papers. Such papers can be referred to as forms.

Organisation and MethodsA form has been defined as a printed or typed document with blank spaces for insertion of information. They include all pieces of papers designed to facilitate the work of an organisation and thoughts that are used to obtain/convey or record information essential to its operations. They provide information for formulating policy, controlling and improvement of operations and filing purposes. They guide the movement of materials, performance of surveys and the authorisation for expenditure and payment of money. Forms not only provide a basis of clerical and executive action but also serve as historical reference and records. Hence forms are vital to the effective management of an agency.

The increasing activities of Government automatically lead to an increase in the volume of paper work. Clerical expenses in the Government have been increasing year by year, due to the over expanding volume of paper work. In order to curtail wasteful expenditure it is necessary that there should be efficient control over various forms being used in administration. The proper design of forms and the control over their use directly results in the efficiency of an organisation. Forms control aims at achieving better procedures and work methods through greater simplicity in the design of the form, greater care in the entry and use of the data, greater clarity and strict are conformity to accepted and useful standards.

Forms control programme should have the following broad objectives :

  1. Elimination of needless forms
  2. Improvement of design and needed forms
  3. Economy of production, distribution and use of forms.
  4. Analysis of forms in their relationships to procedure and methods.

i) Filing Operations

As the activities of the Government are multifarious and Public Administration is charged with Public accountability, it is necessary that the Government should maintain records of each and every activity. Every record should also be easily accessible. The maintenance and accessibility of records can be facilitated by proper filing.

Filing systems are methods of arranging records in a systematic sequence. Such a system is essential for their easy location.

The steps involved in filing operations are :

  1. Classification of files. Classification may be defined as a systematic arrangement according to a method or a system. There are two basic types of classifications i. e. Alphabetic arrangement and numerical arrangement. The organisations can choose any particular type or combination of both types depending upon its need.
  2. Initial Processing. The initial processing of files involved dating, ruling, indexing and cross reference.
  3. Issuing and Controlling. The ability to retrieve quickly and accurately depends not only on the classifications system but is also dependent upon the degree of control exercised over the movement of files. The key operations are the issue of files, the keeping of records, filing at the proper time and refilling.
  4. Retention and Disposal. One of the most important ingredients of an efficient filing system is the development of proper process for the retention and disposal of the files. Principles should be developed based on which one can distinguish between files of permanent value and files of temporary value. Unless a proper system is developed to weed out the unnecessary files, the whole system will eventually get bogged down due to sheer accumulation of records. Usually files are classified into four categories:
  • Historical. In most Government organisations there are certain records which are of historical value to the organisation or to the community. It is of utmost importance that such documents must be carefully identified and transferred to the custody of the office of Archives whose task is to preserve such material.
  • Permanent. This category includes those files and records that are required indefinitely for administrative purposes of the organisation. Legal disputes, trustees, conventions or acts of Parliament are suitable examples.
  • Temporary. This category involves all records which are neither historical nor permanent but are useful for a temporary duration.
  • Current Value. This category covers all records that have fully served their usefulness like personal notices, memoranda, or working papers, etc.

These may be either returned to the concerned officers or destroyed after the prescribed period.

  1. Automation
  2. Work Simplification

Work simplifications involve breaking up of various activities of the organisation into clearly identified parts, democrating the spheres of activity for the staff unit and avoiding duplication of work.

Work simplification has been defined as “The systematic analysis of all the factors that affect work (or that will affect work) in order to save effort time or money”.

The basis objectives of work simplifications are to increase productivity, same time and money and to achieve better public relations.

Work simplification has three aspects –

  1. Work Elimination. It aims at locating unnecessary and avoidable work with the intention of conserving human effort.
  2. Work Improvement. It consists of rearrangement of work and the conditions of surroundings, its performance, so as to render it less irksome and time- consuming. The focus of work improvement is on materials, design, sequence and equipment.
  3. Method Simplification. It consists of an intensive study of procedures with a view to simplifying it. It’s objectives are to reduce time by locating delay and to ensure effective satisfaction of client etc.

Some of the basis objectives of method simplifications are increase in productivity, elimination of errors, reduction of costs and improvement in the quality of work.

Tools of Work Simplifications

The basic tools of work simplifications are –

(a)Work distribution chart. The work distribution chart seeks to present clearly all the activities in a unit, the work of each employee and contributions of each employee in the form of chart. The chart also has a provision for recording the time span of each activity. Such a chart enables us to answer the following questions :

  • Is the work distributed equally?
  • What is the sequence of activities? Are there any activities that are not related to each other?
  • Which part of the work takes more time?

(b) Process Chart. A process chart, as the name indicates gives a detailed record of successive steps in a particular procedure or task. The tasks are arranged in a chronological order so that one can understand the whole process of working. After the chart has been laid out, it is possible to examine whether there are any unnecessary activities.

(c) Automation. Automation refers to the use of mechanical process in the various operations of the organisation, like accounting, filing, tabling etc. Automation eliminates human errors, ensures speedy work, saves time and money and helps to exercise better supervision.

Advantage of O&M

The following are the advantages of O&M :

  1. Keeps the organisation under constant review. Generally there is a tendency in any organisation to rigidity adhere to age-old systems and practices. However, an organisation can survive only if it senses the changes in the environment and changes itself and re-organises changes in the organisation. Change being a continuous process, O&M keeps the organisation under constant reviews.
  2. Provides Assistance to Line Officers. O&M, being a staff activity, renders useful advice to line officers. Being a specialised service, it is of immense help to the line officers who are busy performing their day-to-day functions and are unable to find time for revising methods and procedures in their organisation.
  3. Facilitates induction of latest knowledge. Through its research programmes, O&M opens new vistas and creates consciousness among the employees about the latest developments. It brings in freshness and independence of views.

Any O&M activity is exposed to certain pitfalls which should be avoided. Some of them are as follows :

  • Overstepping its role. The O&M staff generally tend to forget that their role is purely advisory and they are not clothed with the authority to ensure that their recommendations are implemented. Experience has shown that O&M personnel tend to develop a “policing” attitude and try to dominate over the line agency. This attitude defeats the very purpose of O&M.
  • Over technicality. O&M sometimes tend to be over-technical. This creates a gap between the O&M unit and the operating agency. Such a gap seriously jeopardises the very purpose of O&M.

O&M occupy a strategic role in maintaining organisational efficiency. O&M offer an advisory service with an inherent advantage of methodological expertise. O&M is rightly considered as the key to whatever degree of efficiency the department may possess. It is the sine-qua-non of organisational effectiveness and efficiency.

Organisation and Methods in India

With the end of World War, Government of India assumed new responsibilities pertaining to the welfare and development of the teeming millions. The quality of personnel and supervision, however, had considerably deteriorated. A general apathy to shoulder responsibilities was discernible. There was a tendency of passing the buck to the higher levels of hierarchy. With the dawn of the independent era, these tendencies were further reinforced by the natural desires of the new ministers, conscious of their responsibility to Parliament to be consulted or kept informed, before the issue of orders even in comparatively unimportant matters. The standard of efficiency was no longer a matter of pride. It was thus strongly felt that a permanent organisation on the pattern of O&M in U. K. should be established in order to pay continual attention to improvement of efficiency of administrative machinery.

In 1947, Shri A. D. Gorwala recommended the setting up of a Directorate of Methods, Organisation and Training as an agency for improving the competence of young administrators. A year later, the Economy Committee spelt out this idea in a specific recommendation for the creation of separate organisation to exercise strict control over the procedures and personnel of all ministries. With a view to finding out whether officers at all levels are fully discharging the functions expected of them and to suggest improvements in the organisations and methods of work.

In 1952, the First Five Year Plan recommended that the Central Government should have an “Organisation and Methods” Division which should work in close co-operation with the personnel sections in different ministries. Subsequently, in the year 1953, Paul

Appleby in his famous report “Survey of Public Administration in India’ emphasised the need for “establishment of a Central Office charged with the responsibility for giving both extensive and intensive leadership of structures, management and procedures”.

In March 1954, the O&M division came into existence and was located in the Cabinet Secretariat. The rationale for this location was obvious. The Cabinet Secretariat, apart from being the co-ordinating agency, occupied a pivotal position. It functioned under the Prime Minister and was thus eminently suited to secure the co-operation from all ministries and integrate their individual efforts for administrative improvement into a concerted endeavour for raising the level of efficiency of the machinery of Government as a whole.

Functioning of the O&M Division

Immediately after its inception in 1954, the O&M Division outlined the following plan of action. It sought to –

  1. make all concerned conscious of the prevailing inefficiency and of the need and scope for improvement;
  2. discover facts relating to despatch of work and to see what is actually wrong and where to diagnose the causes for delay and see what factors come in the way of achieving quality in work; and
  3. device and apply proper remedies.

It has successfully carried out programmes of studies into ways and means of scientific management of records, simplification of departmental rules like the Public Works Accounts Code, of reports, Returns and statements compiled by Government agencies and also the organised industries, work studies resulting in simplification of procedures and methods of work done in house-keeping sections in Ministries (which taken together represent nearly 30% of the Central Secretariat) studies of specific problems of inter- Ministerial significance like the requirements of clerical and class IV personnel in the secretariat. It also worked out illustrative model/patterns of delegation of financial and administrative powers at various levels of public sector undertakings to match the authority with responsibility, which will speed up the decision-making process and eliminate delays inherent in the centralisation of powers at top/near top levels.

In 1964, the Department of Administrative Reforms was set up under the Ministry of Home Affair as a nodal organisation to continuously undertake studies in the administrative system including the machinery of the Government, methods of work and personnel policies. The O&M Division which was with the Cabinet Secretariat was merged with the Department of Administrative Reforms. The top leadership was provided by the head of Administrative Reforms Department who functioned under the overall guidance of the Home Ministry.

Evaluation of the Organisation and Methods work in India

On the whole, O&M in India has played a commendable role to improve the administrative efficiency in all branches of Government departments. In the advisory capacity, its job has been to assist the heads of the departments by giving them concrete suggestions: A number of recommendations made by the O&M Division have been readily accepted by the Government. Some of its main recommendations are as follows:

  1. The section officers should be delegated more powers, in order to reduce the burden of the Under Secretaries and to have speedy disposal of cases.
  2. For the speedy disposal of cases the concerned officers should have personal discussion to settle the matter rather than adopting the circuitous method of noting and counter-noting on the file.
  3. The Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Works, Housing and Supply should delegate some of the minor powers to other ministries.
  4. The “Through Proper Channel” method may not be sent direct by the Section Officer to the officer having the power to make a decision in the matter. The concept of level-jumping and Desk Officer system was hence recommended by O&M.
  5. The existing forms may be revised, as they have many deficiencies.

Most of these recommendations have been adopted by the Government of India. Unimportant matters have been entrusted to the section officers. More and more matters are being settled through personal discussion. Some of the existing forms, requiring revision to expedite the disposal of work have been revised. Likewise, short-circuiting and level jumping have been resorted to by the Home Ministry. The Deputy Secretary is made available in the section itself to speed up disposal of cases. Thus, the time taken at intermediary levels is saved. In order to reduce red-tapism in the offices, a revised manual of office procedure was prepared by the O&M. In brief, the O&M in India has made great contribution in improving the efficiency of administration of many Government departments. It has not only pointed out the defects of the Government Departments but has also tried to remove them. Through its efforts, a “central mechanism” has been developed by the ministries. As such ministry maintains a control chart, which indicates the time taken for the final disposal of the primary receipts.

If undue delay is caused the O&M officials point it out and suggest ways to overcome such delays. Moreover, each ministry maintains a weekly statement of receipts and cases pending for more than a month. Besides the O&M Division, as already pointed out, has paid adequate attention to the quality of work done. Through Quality Control Drives, it ensured that the senior officials made a note of the quality of noting and drafting of the lower staff. The O&M Division published a list of financial and cognate powers delegated to the various administrative authorities. The contribution of O&M Division can be summed up in the following words. A number of procedural reforms have been introduced at the instance of the O&M division to correct defects brought to light by experience or as a result of inspections or special studies. They relate to such diverse matters as the handling of dak, receipt of paper, addressed to officers absent on tour or on leave, circulation of tour programmes, the maintenance of reminder diaries, monthly progress returns of the cases of quasi-permanent staff, direct correspondence between Ministries and Heads of Departments under other Ministries, the prompt supply of Government reports, publications, etc., to the public, the disposal of audit objections, validity of identity cards etc.

Though the work done by O&M is fairly commendable, it has not been able to attain the stature of O&M in U. K. and U. S. A. The reasons for this are not far to seek.


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