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Could someone explain it for me. I googled it but couldn't find any useful information. I would appreciate it if you could tell me what it means.

Example usage...

The antimonopoly committee has oversight responsibilities for antimonopoly issues, but the line ministries are responsible for implementing the antimonopoly laws.

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    You've got to give us more to go on than that. What's the context? Otherwise it just comes down to the definitions of two words one an adjective and one a noun. – Jim Aug 23 '14 at 7:23
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    My guess is that it is a term applied to those ministries responsible for delivering a government's main programme, such as Health, Education, welfare, Foreign affairs, the Treasury etc. This is as opposed to such departments of government as the Ministry of Justice, Attorney General, Leader of the House (in the UK) etc. – WS2 Aug 23 '14 at 7:38
  • It appears to be quite a rare term. Googling it, the first hit was to a similar WordReference forum thread where a few people said that a Line Ministry is basically the ministry that some given entity is ‘under’ or regulated by. So the farming industry’s Line Ministry would be the Ministry of Agriculture, the school system’s would be the Ministry of Education, etc. ((I have never heard the term and do not wish to supply an answer based on a forum thread, hence this being only a comment.)) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 23 '14 at 10:51
  • This might give some more clues english.bmf.gv.at/budget-economic-policy/… – Frank Aug 23 '14 at 12:07
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    @Janus: I didn't recognise the usage either, but over 30K hits in Google Books for the line ministries tells me I just don't read many books on global politico-economics. I'm surpised three people thus far have closevoted as "Unclear" - presumably because they didn't recognise the collocation and couldn't be bothered to look for examples. It only seems to have one meaning, so we don't actually need OP to provide a specific citation. – FumbleFingers Aug 23 '14 at 14:30
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From Revolution at Queen's Park: Essays on Governing Ontario (Ed. Sid Noel, 1997)...

The manner in which the centralization/decentralization issue is structured in terms of cabinet decision-making is closely mirrored in the relationship between the central agencies and the "line" ministries (i.e., ministries such as Health, which deliver programs and services to the public.

I think we can reasonably see the usage as an extension of the more common (in BrE)...

line manager -a person with direct managerial responsibility for a particular employee.

...in that the "line" in corporate management figuratively stretches from boardroom to workers, just as the political/administrative one sits between central government and the general public.


Also note this from Developing Public Policy: A Practical Guide (Bobby Siu, 2013)...

A line department is also known as a line ministry.
The two terms are often used interchangeably; however, in common usage, people tend to use the term department only for an office in the federal government, while ministry is used to refer to offices in a provincial government.

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  • That first quote sort of suggests 'front line' (that is 'providing services directly to the consumer') as opposed to 'back office' where the general public are not involved (MOD/MOJ Cabinet Office etc.) – Frank Aug 23 '14 at 15:22
  • @Frank: Good point. Yeah, I guess one could say line ministries deliver services to the front line (i.e. - to the public, as "end users" of those services). I've no special attachment to my own postulated "etymology" above, and OP only asked about the meaning anyway. So I'll leave my text unchanged unless anyone can provide support for either origin (or maybe a totally different one). – FumbleFingers Aug 23 '14 at 15:33
  • +1 Wouldn't surprise me if it was originally planned as 'front line ministries' and someone realised 'front line' is generally understood as 'where you engage the enemy' and it probably wouldn't be good to be quite so open about it. – Frank Aug 23 '14 at 15:41
  • @Frank: In the UK at least, central and local government are more than fond of telling us that front line services will not be affected. And of course there's the thin blue line of police that protect us from anarchy (or perhaps tip us over into it, in Jefferson, MI :( – FumbleFingers Aug 23 '14 at 15:52
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I have faced the term "line ministries" myself. By checking various contexts, I'd suggest "relevant ministries" as a definition.

Here's an example: National youth development is often the sole responsibility of the government ministry or department where the youth portfolio lies, whereas youth issues should be mainstreamed across various sectors and line ministries such as health, finance, economic development, housing, justice, foreign affairs, education, and agriculture.

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In my view these are the ministries that are connected to a certain issue or program.For Example issues of early pregnancy among school girls,the line ministries are Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Ministry of youth development

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