Hyderabad: The TS and AP governments created new trends in the functioning of the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) which left senior IAS officers irked. The functioning of CMOs in both the states came in for criticism from official circles.
Making CMO secretaries as in-charge of some departments had never happened before, they said. At the Chief Minister’s departmental review meetings, the CMO secretaries occupied the front row and department secretaries concerned were pushed to the back benches.
Some CMO secretaries were also holding meetings with departments, unheard of in the past. The Chief Minister generally appoints five to six secretaries on various subjects to assist him. Each secretary is allotted some departments to be looked after. The departments would send proposals and files to the Chief Minister through the secretary concerned who would study the matter and brief him.
CMO officials were entrusted with assisting the CM. But both the states convention had undergone a change. Some secretaries were made in-charge of a few departments. In TS, additional secretary to CM in CMO Smitha Sabarwal was given additional charge of Panchayat Raj and rural development and principal secretary to Chief Minister in CMO A. Shanti Kumari was given additional charge of medical and health.
In AP, secretary to the CM in CMO Sai Prasad was given IT department earlier. A senior IAS officer said in his 30-year tenure, never had there been such a style of functioning. CMO secretaries were meant to assist CM in the departments distributed to them. In the past, CMO officials used to sit in back rows during the CM’s review meetings though they had not come to occupy the front row.
Another bureaucrat said that departmental review meetings were becoming those with CMO officials. A senior most IAS officer, who worked in combined AP state and presently is with TS, said, “According to me, retired chief secretary S.V. Prasad has the longest stint of about nine-and-a-half-years in CMOs of several Chief Ministers. During that period, I attended a number of review meetings where Prasad never opened his mouth. But now CMO officials are speaking more than the department secretaries. Some secretaries of CMO are holding review meetings also and senior IAS officers are facing problems at the meetings.”
Meanwhile, general administration department officials said due to shortage of IAS officers, CMOs were allotted some departments.