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Dynamics of Rules and Regulations in Defence

Narinder Gupta is on Deputation to Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • July 16, 2010

    In any formal organization, predetermined sets of rules and regulations govern various activities for the accomplishment of goals and to keep the organization moving and vibrant. If one looks into details, one may come across applicability of these rules, regulations, procedures and circulars documented in different sources and which are mandatory to follow. In this context, a pertinent question arises about their correct applicability and the need for consolidation/documentation of these provisions as well as the removal of inconsistencies/conflicts not only for smooth functioning of the organization but also for meeting the organizational objectives.

    To undertake a meaningful analysis, be it in the domain of security, defence manufacturing, defence procurement, outsourcing of activities and processes or any other activity, the importance of dynamism and updation of existing rules and regulations hardly needs any emphasis.

    It has been experienced that during application of prescribed procedures, many contradictions and ambiguities crop up, resulting in delays in decision making and, in some cases, to even faulty decisions. Faulty decision-making at any level on any issue can have far reaching implications in Defence. Against this background, documentation and consolidation of various applicable provisions assume the highest importance for functional efficiency. This linkage of varied sources of rules and regulations also help to a significant extent in ensuring avoidance of application of outdated and redundant provisions at the time of formulating and deciding an issue. In other words, the correct application of rules and regulations emanates from the comprehensive and well-documented provisions relevant to any organization. This also cuts time delays which are highly important in a fast changing security environment. The cost delays are also accordingly easy to handle and minimized to achieve maximum value for money.

    There are numerous instances in every organization where updation and consolidation need to be undertaken. It may be quite relevant to quote a few areas relevant to the field of Defence. In one recent experience in Border Roads Organization, it was observed that the main manual of regulations was as old as 1983 after which it had not been updated although a large number of amendments/additions/deletions had taken place during the intervening period between 1983 and 2009. At times this resulted in application of outdated provisions at the time of formulation of initial proposals, leading to either faulty decision or unnecessary time delay. This shows that the lack of knowledge on updated or new provisions on the part of the dealing officials can hinder proposals.

    Similarly, there are specific manuals relevant to various organizations which may require regular updates to enable the personnel in that organization to apply correct provisions in a timely manner to obtain quality in decision-making. Unfortunately this has not been happening in most organizations. This may be attributable mainly to the complexity of the task involved, lack of will and problems in comprehending the situation, among a host of other factors. In fact, regular and periodical updating necessitates a dynamic approach in this area in any organization for efficient and result oriented working. In the era of computerization, it is easy to update the necessary rules and regulations on a regular basis, if the document is not of sensitive and classified nature.

    In the area of Defence procurement, the dynamics of rules and regulations assume the highest importance coupled with enhanced delegation of financial powers in every sphere of activity in procurement. This process can help cut down procurement delays and can lead to better decision making. Moreover, the consolidation and regular updating of various provisions applicable to Defence further help to locate inconsistencies and make way for amendments to rectify the inconsistencies.

    Similarly, there are many other areas in Defence which face the need of review of redundant procedures, rules and regulations so that simple and practicable provisions are put in place. The area of providing logistics support for the purpose of updating, maintaining and overhauling of different weapon systems can be undertaken at the right time, place and price to meet the operational needs of the Armed Forces. This is possible only if personnel dealing with exiting procedures are aware of them, understand them and apply them in the same spirit. It is equally important for them to relate these provisions to the requirements so that the scope for improvement through amendments in the existing provisions always remains. The importance of case studies in any organization/branch/wing hardly needs emphasis. The performance Audit studies bring out many interesting facts and point to procedural lacunae which the organization can sort out and, if required, further improve the process through remedial measures. In addition, the necessary change in any procedure can also be considered. It can even point to the need for drastic changes in the existing set up and mode of business operations

    There are many other methods by which these aspects can be explored. One common system adopted everywhere is the committee system. Here, the question is not of adoption of any particular system but achieving the ‘end result’ in the shortest possible time, which is capable of meeting the strategic/operational requirements. Therefore, the importance of dynamics of rules and regulations and their applications cannot be underestimated in any organisation. More so, a system of checks and balances with dynamic changes is a pre-requisite for efficiency, effectiveness, timeliness and quality output. Therefore, a mechanized system can be built in to cater for the changing dynamics and requirements of the organization.