Communications, coordination, allocation and conservation are the basic functions of the Ops department. Of the four, the first two deal with people. The latter two deal with equipment.
A brief review of past and present titles held by department members clearly shows the emphasis on communications and coordination. Such titles include Fighter Director, Communications officer, and Mission Ops. Each position is responsible for monitoring activity outside the ship, informing the command staff of significant changes, relaying orders from the command staff, and supporting outside activities with ship's resources including communications and the transporter.
The Ops department works in a similar way within the ship. Various department managers will be working independently on occasionally conflicting projects. The Ops staff must support all these projects by providing ship's resources, and know enough about the status of each project to make reasonable judgements in allocating resources.
Which brings in the second pair of Ops functions: allocation and conservation. Operations is responsible for dispensing power, computer time, sensors, transporter resources, replicator bulk, and other assets which may be required by multiple projects and departments. For the most part, Starfleet ships have sufficient assets to meet all department's needs. It is up to Operations to be creative in resolving the rare conflicts, and minimize the impact of conflicts that cannot be avoided.
It should be noted that the word 'command' is not listed among the department's four functions. This is the role of the command staff. This role is often delegated at a project level to the away team leader, fighter flight leader, or department chief who is making a request of Ops.
Thus, Ops often mediates between two groups in authority, but does not inherit this authority. Ops must pass information between command staff and project leaders to allow both to make reasonable decisions. If a project leader's requests can be honored without disturbing the command staff, Ops should do so. It is not Op's role to make command decisions, but to aid others in making them, and to expedite execution once the decision has been made.
Missions and Departments
Ops Manual, Table of Contents
Ops Department Office