Policy coordination among line ministries is considered the main problem in the Central Government Office (CGO). Ministries seem to be tentative about sharing information, control or resources. At the same time, there are procedures in place to increase coordination such as informal inter-ministerial groups drafting parts of governmental bills. A case study on the drafting of a bill on economic growth policy showed that the bill that was eventually submitted to parliament was version number 56 of the bill.
There is currently a reform process underway in the CGO, the so-called “RK-Styr” reform. The objectives of the reform are to significantly increase coordination among line ministries in order for them to be more apt at steering the agencies. Lack of coordination means a lack of steering capacity. Since the PMO does not have day-to-day policy coordination as a main responsibility, coordination becomes more middle-level and ad hoc.
The challenge of efficient coordination is exacerbated by a growing number of overarching policy objectives – so-called mainstreamed goals – that all bills and directives to Royal Commissions should adhere to. The first mainstreamed goal, economic growth, was adopted in the early 1990s. Today, there are 16 such mainstreamed goals, including gender equality, sustainable development and ethnicity. The latest cluster of mainstreamed goals to enter the list was the U.N. Bill of Rights. The main problem with this arrangement is that with the exception of gender equality there is no organization or part of any organization that “owns” the issue. Thus, while all bills drafted in the CGO are expected to promote all 16 mainstreamed goals there is no person or body assigned to make sure that this actually happens.
Coming back to an observation made earlier, the CGO in Sweden, which comprises the PMO and the line ministries, acts as a collective body in most aspects of decision-making. In terms of organizing the drafting of governmental bills or preparing Cabinet decisions, this work is typically done in the line ministries with little substantive oversight from the PMO. The role of the PMO is to control the flow of bills through the Cabinet and to the parliament and, to a lesser degree, to ensure that there are no inconsistencies or overlaps among the bills. Much of the policy coordination is done in inter-ministerial groups at the middle-level of the organizations.
Another source of coordination is the Ministry of Finance. The Ministry of Finance (MoF) took a higher profile within the CGO during the financial crisis in 1992 and has kept and even expanded that position since then. MoF routinely reviews bills and directives to Royal Commissions.
Pierre, J. (2009), ”Tillväxtpolitikens styrningsproblem” [The Governance Problems in Growth Policies], in Göran Sundström och Jon Pierre (red), Samhällsstyrning i förändring [The Changing Societal Governance] (Malmö: Liber), 72-89.
Pierrre, J. and C. Dahlström (forthcoming), “Steering from the Centre in Sweden” in C. Dahlström, J. Pierre and B. G. Peters (eds), Steering from the Centre (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011).
Pierre, J. and G. Sundström (eds), Den nya samhällsstyrningen (Malmö: Liber).
Premfors, R. and G. Sundström, G. (2007), Regeringskansliet (Malmö: Liber).