City Administration – US vs India

There are two kinds of city administrations in US- the Mayor-led system, where the directly elected Mayor has executive powers. And the City Council manager system, where the city council selects a professional city manager to be its CEO. The Mayor in this system is more like the Indian system, with no executive powers. Although there are successful examples of both systems, one may argue that the city manager run system is better in terms of efficiency.

There are differences however in the city manager municipalities here and in India. The city manager here is appointed by the city council (unlike in India, where they are the State government officials). Thus, the city council has much more control/autonomy in choosing their manager. It may serve them well if they choose the right person! The city manager has autonomy to choose his own team. This I think is a very big advantage. He also negotiates his salary with the council. A very rough estimate would be about 10,000 $ per month for  a city of about 50,000 population. The number of services delivered by city councils also seem to be smaller (they don’t run schools/hospitals). The political interference from the council in city manager’s work seems minimal. The administrative expenditure percentage is much less. One of the stated goals of city councils is promotion of economic develoment of the city. The citizen engagement is increasing here.

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