Apart from the rural and urban local self governments, there is administrative machinery in every district. This not only contributes to the functioning of the local bodies directly and indirectly, but also performs administrative and development functions. In every district there are Sub-Divisions and Blocks or Talukas and the officials posted there assist the district administration.

The key officials at the district level are: District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police, District Education Officer, District Agriculture Officer, District Forest Officer etc. All these officers are the heads of their departments in the district.

District Magistrate (DM)

It is the District Magistrate who is in-charge of the whole district administration. This post is also named as Deputy Commissioner, District Collector or Upayukta. He or She belongs to the Indian Adminstrative Service (IAS). District administration is responsible to implement the policies and programmes of the State and Central governments.

Especially after independence, the district administration is responsible not only for collection of revenue or taxes and maintenance of law and order, but is also for various activities related to welfare and socio-economic development of the district.

District had been an important unit of administration since long. During the British colonial period, it was mainly responsible for maintaining law and order and collection of revenues. But at present, state administration has been decentralised and the district administration is playing multi-faceted role. The District Magistrate has been assigned various important powers and functions to perform on behalf of the State government. The main functions of District Magistrate are:

  1. Maintaining law and order and ensuring peace in the district
  2. Implementing various policies and programmes of the State government and the Central government
  3. Acting as the main link between State government and district level institutions and offices
  4. Coordinating the activities of different departments such as education, health, welfare, land management, police, jail and culture
  5. Taking adequate and appropriate measures during emergencies and disasters and conducting relief work
  6. Ensuring the conduct of free and fair elections for various representative bodies, such as Lok Sabha,Vidhan Sabha, Block Samities, Zila Parishad, Municipalities, etc
  7. Managing collection of the revenue and other taxes
  8. Performing judicial functions and deciding various disputes and even imposing penalties and fines
  9. Listening to the grievances of the people and redressing them

Sub Divisional Officer (SDO)

For better administration each district is divided into smaller units called Sub Divisions. Although the sub divisions of the district are under the District Magistrate, an officer called the Sub Divisional Officer (SDO) is made in-charge of this unit. The SDO is there to assist the District Magistrate in the field of administration and also works as his or her representative.

The SDO belongs to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) or to the cadre of State Civil Service. He or She keeps the land records and collects land revenue. He or She has the power to issue licenses for armed weapons like guns and pistols, and is also authorised for the issuance of Driving License, Certificates regarding the domicile, Schedule Castes, Schedule Tribes and other Backward Classes.

Block Development Officer (BDO)

The Block is the unit of administration at the lowest level. The officer in-charge of the Block is called Block Development Officer (BDO). He or She belongs to State Civil Service cadre and looks after various activities of the Block.

The BDO is linked with the middle tier of Panchayati Raj as he or she is the ex-officio Secretary of the Panchayat Samiti and keeps the record of the meetings, prepares budget and coordinates various developmental activities.