The Line:

They are the backbone of administrative machinery. It signifies an unbroken vertical line through which authority flows from the top to the bottom of organization.

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L.D. White in his “Introduction to the Study of Public Administration” has outlined following essential functions of line agencies

1. Making decisions.

2. Taking responsibility.

3. Interesting and depending policy and operations

4. Planning.

5. Maintaining production while seeking both, economy and efficiency.

Features of the Line Agencies:

1. Associated with primary functions.

2. Vertical organization.

3. Reduction of authority from top to bottom.

4. Concerned with decision making.

5. Issues commands.

6. Close personal contacts between officials.

7. Every person is in the direct claim of command.

8. Delegation of authority from top to bottom.

Types of Line Agencies:

1. The Department:

A homogeneous unit where work is concentrating it is a division, branch or regiment immediately below the Chief Executive into which entire work of the government is divided.

U.S.A.: There are 13 departments headed by a Secretary.

U.K.: The number of department is not fixed. It is coterminous with ministry.

2. The Public Corporation:

A statutory body created for the purpose of effective organization. As Marshall E. Dimock defines, “Public corporation is a public owned enterprise that has been chartered under federal, State or local law for a particular business or financial purpose”.

Its rise is closely connected with the growing complexity of modern governments. However there remains a problem of concern ‘Autonomy’ and ‘Control’ of public corporations.

3. The Independent Regulatory Commissions:

A body created to assist the heads of administration which remains relatively autonomous.

They perform; quasi- legislative and quasi-Judicial functions and remain independent from the executive control. They are a peculiar feature of the American Administrative System.

The Staff:

The Staff comprises those agencies of the administrative system that support the line agencies. They do not initiate or decide the matter. It is essentially the extension of the Chief Executive himself, carrying on for him those functions which he would do himself, if he had the time.

Features of the Staff:

1. Assist rather than command.

2. No power of decision making.

3. Secondary functions.

4. No direct dealings, remains in the background.

5. Purely advisory character.

6. Always attached to the line.

Kinds of Staff:

A.R. Tyagi in his ‘Public Administration’ categorizes following staff agencies:

1. General Staff.

2. Technical Staff.

3. Auxiliary Staff.


White House, National Security Council. U.K.: Cabinet Office, Civil Service Department under-PMO, Planning Commission.

The Auxiliary:

They are the operating agencies concerned mainly with the maintenance of an existing organization. While Staff agencies are concerned with thinking, planning and advisory functions, auxiliary agencies are not concerned with the major substantive functions.

Willoughby called them “house keeping services”.

Thus the two kinds of agencies have their own sphere’ of influence. However, a fully viable administrational system would require that both the agencies work in tandem, they need not be limited by the conventional predicament, consequently, today the staff agencies are not purely advisory; they also exercise authority and similar is the case with the line agencies.

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