The chief executive in the public service is the administrative head of a government established, be it a ministry, department of parastatals, for examples, the Permanent Secretary, Director General, Accountant General, Auditor General, General Manager, Vice Chancellor, Rector, Provost, Government Printer etc. Luther Guilick, an American scholar condensed the duties of the Chief Executive into acronyms – POSDCORB. Each letter stands for one of the critical functions performed by the Chief Executive, planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting and budgeting.
Planning is an essential element in every social activity. Every rational being makes plans. Today when the scope of large scale organization is impossible for one, or few persons to plan complicated enterprises without expert assistance, planning has come to be accepted as an essential preliminary, not merely to the implementation, but also to the shaping of policy.
Planning helps organization to explore the situation in relation to the objects in view to determining what resources are available and to suggest how they can best be marshaled. Planning includes an element of forecasting, leaving to the leader the choice between alternative ways and means.
Chief Executive is concerned with the long term plan; each executive below him must devise his own short term plan to control the day to day working within his own smaller sphere of responsibility.
The managerial function of organizing is concerned with the designing and maintaining a network of roles and relationship that enables a group of people operating in a formal work setting to function effectively. For an organized role to be meaningful to people, it must incorporate or embody, (a) verifiable objectives, (b) a list or description of the major duties involved and (c) a clearly defined and understood area of discretion or authority, so that the person filling the role knows what he or she can do to accomplish results.
In addition, to make a role operational, provision should be made for needed information and other tools required for performing the assigned duties or activities. It is the form of structure of roles that a formal organization is conceived.
It is in this sense that we think of organizing as the grouping of activities necessary to attain objectives, the assigning of each grouping to a manager with authority necessary to supervise it, and provision for coordinating the activities.
An organizing structure should be assigned to clarify the environment so that everyone knows what is expected of him.
It covers the whole process of recruitment, training and the provision of suitable conditions of service for the employees. Within the conditions laid down by higher authorities, the Chief Executive main task is to ensure that his subordinates carry out their duties in a way calculated to achieve the objectives of the organization with the available resources. This requires a good system of staff welfare.
Directing is the continuing task of making appropriate decisions and seeing that such decisions are embodied in orders and instructions in such away as to ensure the effective and efficient running of the enterprise and the achievement of the end in view.
For the direction to have the desired effect, the plan the organization and the staff must already be in place. Through judicious delegation of responsibilities, direction may be made to operate at as many policy making power and the Chief Administrator within the organization. It is concerned with the formal instructional system whereby commands are passed downwards from the head to the lowest level.
In a small group the leader coordinates through personal contact direct with each member of the group and the proximity of these members means that each member has direct contact with the fellows. The group is maintained as a team through the personal relationship of the members. In a large scale organization such direct simple coordinating is no longer possible, formal methods coordinating have to be devised.
The development of the hierarchical pattern in which the leader has direct contact with a limited number of deputies and so on all down the line; is an instance of natural coordination. Formal method of coordination is built up by the judicious operation of all the other functions of the POSDCORB.
Reporting is intended to cover those activities that have to do with the provision of records; that is with the normal office work. It is concerned with the supply of information. Reporting is particularly important to the Chief Administrator when supplying information to the political chiefs and exchanging information with subordinates. Many of the other functions are involved in reporting.
Budgeting is concerned with accounting, costing and fiscal management generally. It is important that the chief administrator should have the considerations of expense in minds at all stages.
In planning, to carry out the policy that has been laid down, he must work within the limits of the financial resources available to his organization. In the discharge of his budgeting and accounting function, the chief administrator is assisted by specialist. It should be noted that budgeting is an aspect of control and both are related to the directing function.
Recent changes in functional responsibilities
In the most recent times there have been two major changes by different Military Heads of States in Nigeria, namely, General Ibrahim Babangida and General Ibrahim Abacha respectively in the public service.
The first was in 1985 when General Babangida changed the post of Permanent Secretary to Director General. This brought an end to career civil servants occupying the position. That meant that any person could be appointed to that position and it, hence, became political seat. Then the Minister or the Commissioner became the Accounting Officer. The Director General stays there as long as the political overload stays on, but goes out immediately the regime’s tenure elapse.
The second change was during the regime of General Ibrahim Abacha. He brought back the Permanent Secretary-ship and stimulated the spirit and hope of career civil servants. Now the permanent secretary became the accounting officer.
In conclusion, while the era of Director General dislocated career-ship of civil servants and left the bureaucratic hierarchy in amorphous situation, the permanent secretary-ship rejuvenated the hierarchy because the hope of hardworking civil servant is to get the highly exulted position of permanent secretary.