Interministerial Coordination


Does the government office / prime minister’s office (GO / PMO) have the expertise to evaluate ministerial draft bills substantively?

The GO / PMO has comprehensive sectoral policy expertise and provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s strategic and budgetary priorities.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is responsible for policy coordination, and as such evaluates and provides advice on all major line ministry proposals. The department has significant resources, and has authority to draw from, and consult with, appropriate sources across the whole of the government system.
Draft bills are vetted primarily by the Privy Council Office and to a lesser extent by Finance Canada and the Treasury Board. These central agencies are prestigious places to work, and indeed, central-agency experience is highly valued (some even say a prerequisite) for advancement to senior levels within the federal public service. Consequently, central-agency staff members are generally highly skilled and possess the comprehensive sectoral-policy expertise needed for the regular and independent evaluation of draft bills based on the government’s strategic and budgetary priorities.
The president’s advisory ministry (Ministerio Secretaría General de la Presidencia, Segpres) and the Government or Cabinet Office (Ministerio Secretaría General de Gobierno, Segegob) have at their disposal the necessary instruments and capacities to monitor and evaluate the policy content of line-ministry proposals. Nevertheless, channels of evaluation and advice are not fully institutionalized, and may change with a new head of state.
As a ministry in itself, the Prime Minister’s Office has the capacity to evaluate proposed policy. The primary function of the Prime Minister’s Office is to support the duties of the prime minister, who directs the work of government and coordinates the preparation and consideration of government business. The Prime Minister’s Office monitors the implementation of the government program and coordinates Finland’s EU policy. In addition, the Prime Minister’s Office is tasked with coordinating communications between the government and various ministries, planning future-oriented social policies, and promoting cooperation between the government and the various branches of public administration. The Prime Minister’s Office has four departments: European Union Affairs, Government Administration, Government Ownership Steering, and Government Communications. Additionally, it has three units: the Government Session Unit, Government Policy Analysis Unit and Government External Economic Relations Unit. The Prime Minister’s Office has a secretary of state, a permanent undersecretary of state and some 550 employees arranged within several task-specific departments. In addition, the steering of the Team Finland network takes place within the Prime Minister’s Office. Team Finland is a network tasked with promoting international trade and relations, improving the efficiency of business cooperation abroad, and increasing the ease with which Finnish customers can access international business services.
The primary coordinating role is undertaken by the Cabinet Office, which has expertise in all areas of government since Cabinet Office officials commonly worked in other departments before. According to its website, the Cabinet Office has over 2,000 staff, is responsible for the National Security Council and is central to “making government work better.” The Cabinet Office’s Economic and Domestic Secretariat is responsible for coordinating policy advice to the prime minister and the cabinet, and the attached Parliamentary Business and Legislation (PBL) Secretariat provides advice on legislation and supervises progress made by bill drafting teams. The head of the Economic and Domestic Secretariat is also responsible for the Implementation Unit and the operation of the Implementation Task Forces, which oversee the implementation of government policies, and coordinates between ministers and public officials. Implementation Unit staff are policy experts from the civil service with good ministerial networks and excellent substantive expertise. The role of the Treasury in putting pressure on departmental spending also contributes to interministerial coordination.
The GO / PMO has sectoral policy expertise and evaluates important draft bills.
The formation of the PKC, which reports directly to the prime minister, has ensured a mechanism enabling input from the government office on the substance of policy proposals from line ministries. The PKC evaluates all proposals to be addressed by the cabinet on a weekly basis, focusing on three issues: cross-sectoral impact, adherence to the government declaration and compatibility with long-term strategy documents (such as the National Development Plan and Latvia 2030).
1. National Development Plan 2020, Available at (in Latvian):, Last assessed: 21.05.2013

2. Sustainable Development Strategy of Latvia until 2030, Available at:, Last assessed: 21.05.2013
The presidential office offers positions of high prestige in Mexico. It is involved with the legislative process to a decisive degree. Due to the absence of a high-level career civil service, both the cabinet and the presidential office are staffed with presidential appointments. The independence of figures within the executive is thus questionable since everyone of influence in the presidential office is a political appointee. It is relevant to note that the majority of legislative proposals introduced by the executive failed in post-1997 Mexico – a successful proposal submitted as part the “Pact for Mexico” during the early years of the Peña Nieto administration notwithstanding. Political roadblocks rather than any lack of policy expertise are responsible for these problems.
New Zealand
The policy-advisory group in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) currently consists of 14 staff members covering a broad spectrum of policy expertise. They are in constant contact with the prime minister and provide advice on all cabinet and cabinet committee papers. They also engage in coordinating interministerial cooperation. The policy-advisory group provides direct support to the prime minister on specifically commissioned initiatives, such as the prime minister’s “Tackling Methamphetamine” Action Plan. In 2015, a Legislation Design and Advisory Committee (LDAC) was established with the aim of improving the quality and effectiveness of legislation. The LDAC advises departments regarding the design and content of bills while still in the development stage.
Annual Report for the Year Ended 30 June 2014 (Wellington: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 2014).
Policy Advisory Group: (accessed October 24, 2015).
Legislation Design and Advisory Committee: (accessed 30 November, 2015).
The Office of the Prime Minister has a small to medium-sized staff of 30 to 50 people, about 10 of which are political advisers, with the rest being professional bureaucrats. The office is not tasked with evaluating policy proposals in detail, but rather works to coordinate activities, ensure that government policies are roughly aligned, and monitor whether policy planning is adequate and is following prescribed procedures. The office has sufficient expertise and capacity for these purposes, and is considered to be an elite department with very highly skilled employees. The tradition of coalition governments in Norway involves strong coordination activity among the government coalition partners.
South Korea
South Korea’s presidential system has a dual executive structure, with the president serving both as head of state and head of government. The prime minister is clearly subordinate to the president and is not accountable to parliament. The presidential office, known as the Blue House, has the power and expertise to evaluate draft bills. As the real center of power in the South Korean government, the Blue House has divisions corresponding with the various line-ministry responsibilities. The Prime Minister’s Office has sufficient administrative capacity and nonpolitical technocrats to design and implement policies and strategies politically chosen by the Blue House. President Moon has promised to decentralize powers, and plans to hold a referendum to amend the constitution in this manner. As of the time of writing, a variety of potential reforms were being discussed, including increases to local autonomy and even a switch from a presidential to a parliamentary system.
Government Performance Evaluation Committee,
The Korea Institute of Public Administration (KIPA),
Spain’s Government Office (Ministry of the Presidency, Ministerio de la Presidencia) and Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) (both the Private Office and the Economic Office) are tasked with evaluating line-ministry proposals from the political and technical points of view. From a functional and even physical point of view, these bodies are nearly one, and form the very powerful political core of the executive. In general, these different units have ample staff with specific policy expertise, whose task is to substantively assess draft bills and other important sectoral initiatives to ensure they are compatible with the government’s strategic and budgetary priorities. The internal structures of the prime minister’s Private Office and Economic Office vaguely reflect the various ministerial portfolios, although without achieving a comprehensive policy expertise that enables perfect oversight throughout the executive. Moreover, evaluations made by the advisers working there are not truly independent, since most staffers are insiders bureaucratically connected to their ministries of origin. For its part, the Government Office, which is also responsible for organizing the Council of Ministers’ cycle of sessions, and whose head is the powerful deputy prime minister, has no sectoral-policy expertise, but also evaluates the substantive content of draft bills to some extent. Nevertheless, despite the extensive constitutional and political strength of the Spanish premiership, these units enjoy only limited administrative resources. Their relatively small size is perhaps explained by the hierarchical, single-party nature of the Spanish government, in which it is not particularly necessary to monitor sectoral ministers from the center.
Funciones del Ministerio de la Presidencia y para las Administraciones Territoriales
http://www.mpr.gob.e s/mpr/funciones/Paginas/funciones.a spx
Interministerial coordination has been a significant problem in the Swedish system of government for a long time but has now been addressed in a comprehensive strategy. The previous government (2006 – 2014) implemented a major program (“RK Styr”) in order to strengthen the coordination among departments. This goal was believed to be a necessary step to increase the capability of the GO to steer the agencies more effectively.

In formal and legal terms, the government and its departments act as a collectivity. All decisions in government are made collectively and there is no individual ministerial accountability. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) plays a significant role in the coordination process. This is also the case for the finance ministry. Furthermore, when the incumbent government is a coalition government, as has been the case since 2006, policies must be coordinated not just among the relevant departments but also among the governing parties.

The practice of governing and coordination is much more complex. Each department has a fair amount of autonomy in their respective sector. Coordination among departments takes places at different organizational levels depending on whether the issue is a technical and administrative issue, or whether it is a more political matter. With the latter, political actors make the final decisions. When bills involving more than one department are drafted, coordination is achieved through meetings where drafts of the bill are discussed. There are instances where drafts have gone through a very large number of revisions as part of the coordination process. In pro-growth policies in the mid-2000s, for instance, the bill that eventually was submitted to the parliament (Riksdag) was the 56th version of the bill.

The lack of coordination has to some extent been resolved by increasing the centralization within the Government Office. The finance ministry has become a “primus inter pares” among the departments; a pattern that emerged in the wake of the financial crises in the early 1990s but that has remained ever since.

The PMO rarely coordinates policy content, which generally takes place during the process of deliberation or drafting of bills.
Dahlström, C., B. G. Peters and J. Pierre (eds) (2011), Steering from the Center (Toronto: University of Toronto Press).

Jacobsson, B., J. Pierre and G. Sundström (2015), Governing the Embedded State (Oxford: Oxford Universirty Press).

Niemann, C. (2013), Villkorat förtroende. Normer och rollförväntningar i relationen mellan politiker och tjänstemän i Regeringskansliet (Stockholm: Department of Political Science, University of Stockholm).

Pierre, J. and G. Sundström (eds) (2009), Den nya samhällsstyrningen (Malmö: Liber).

Premfors, R. and G. Sundström (2007), Regeringskansliet (Malmö: Liber).
The Prime Minister’s Office contains a “strategic cell” that helps the prime minister evaluate and steer policy across all levels. Typically, this oversight function is shared with deputy prime ministers (one per coalition party, apart from the prime minister’s party) in a regular “core” meeting. Each of the advisers and experts in the cell specializes in one field. They assess only the most important issues, as the relatively small size of the team limits its ability to deal with all issues at hand. The fact that governments are always coalitions (comprised of at least four parties) also gives a central role to party advisers of the corresponding minister in the lawmaking process.
The Danish Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is relatively small. It normally has a staff of about 80, spread between three groups (i.e., academics, technical and administrative staff), the academic group being the largest.

The office is divided into two main sections, one dealing with foreign policy and the second with domestic political and economic issues. There is also a law division and an administrative division. The High Commissioner for the Faroe Islands and the High Commissioner for Greenland also fall under the PMO. The prime minister’s portfolio tasks include the North Atlantic area (e.g., Greenland and the Faroe Islands), the press, constitutional law and relations with the Royal Family.

Given its small size, the PMO does not have the capacity to evaluate the details of all laws. But some officials are seconded from important line ministries to give the PMO a certain capacity. This capacity has been strengthened since the 1990s.

There is a strong tradition of so-called minister rule (ministerstyre). A minister is in charge of a certain area, but the cabinet is a collective unit and is supposed to have only one policy focus, for which the prime minister has the overall responsibility. Coordination takes place through special committees. Most important is the government coordination committee which meets weekly. Other committees are the committee on economic affairs, the security committee and the appointment committee. There is also a tradition of two-day government seminars once or twice per year where important government issues are discussed.
Website of the Prime Minister’s Office: (accessed 16 October 2017).

Jørgen Grønnegård Christensen, Peter Munk Christiansen og Marius Ibseb, Politik og forvaltning, 4. udgave, Hans Reitzels Forlag, 2017.

Jørgen Grønnegård Christensen and Jørgen Elklit (eds.), Det demokratiske system. 4. udgave. Hans Reitzels Forlag, 2016.
There are three main loci of policy evaluation once a policy proposal has been forwarded to the prime minister. The first is the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the second is the President’s Office, and the third, in cases of legislation or regulation, the Council of State. This hierarchical organization gives the prime minister the option of modifying ministers’ draft bills. In important cases, this steering function is located in the President’s Office. Both the president and the prime minister appoint adviser from all ministries as policy adviser in a given sector. All ministerial domains are covered. Several hundred people are involved in government steering, checking, controlling and advising functions.

However, it would probably be overstated to consider these various checks a method of evaluation. The PMO mainly coordinates and arbitrates between ministries, takes into consideration opinions and criticisms from involved interests and from the majority coalition, and balances political benefits and risks. The President’s Office does more or less the same in coordination with the PMO. More than offering a thorough policy evaluation, these two institutions serve as a place where the ultimate arbitrations between bureaucrats, party activists and vested interests are made.
The Orbán governments have steadily expanded both the competencies and the resources of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The number of state secretaries and undersecretaries in the PMO has been further increased, and now stands at about 30. More than 1,500 persons are employed in the PMO and in its surrounding expert groups. The PMO is supported by five background institutes with about 200 employees. Three of them, the Veritas Institute (an institute of contemporary history), the Institute for Linguistic Strategy (for language guidelines for Fidesz media) and the Institute for National Strategy (Hungarians in neighboring countries) deal with “strategic” issues. The Institute of Systemic Change and Archives and the Institute of National Heritage focus on documentation (31-29 people respectively). However, the quantitative expansion of the PMO has come with a decline in expertise, as political loyalty has been the main principle of recruiting. In addition to the PMO, there is the prime minister’s cabinet office. Under its head Antal Rogán, it has developed into a ministry with state secretaries and undersecretaries responsible for government communication.
The influence and effectiveness of the Irish prime minister’s office (Department of the Taoiseach) is limited by a dearth of analytical skills. The department is focused on strategic policy issues and the delivery of the Programme for Government. The Department of the Taoiseach has steadily grown over the years from about 30 people in 1977 to just over 200 in 2017. The Department coordinates policy in specific policy areas (e.g., Northern Ireland, EU affairs and, the current hot topic, Brexit). Nevertheless, most policymaking continues to take place in the line ministries.

An expert group on strengthening civil-service accountability and performance reported to government in May 2014. Among the numerous recommendations it made, it proposed the establishment of an accountability board for the civil service, chaired by the taoiseach but including external members. This board would be tasked with reviewing and constructively challenging the performance of senior management as well as monitoring progress on the delivery of agreed-upon priorities. It also recommended that the Irish Civil Service be given an appointed head. The government rejected the proposal for a head of civil service, but an accountability board with independent members was established in May 2015.
The report of the Independent Panel on Strengthening Civil Service Accountability and Performance is available here:
The Cabinet Secretariat has more than 800 employees with expertise in all major policy fields. These employees are usually temporarily seconded by their ministries. While these staffers possess considerable expertise in their respective fields, it is doubtful whether they can function in an unbiased manner on issues where the institutional interests of their home organizations are concerned. Moreover, the system lacks adequate infrastructure for broader coordination (including public relations or contemporary methods of policy evaluation).
Izuru Makihara, The Role of the Kantei in Making Policy,, 27.06.2013,

Markus Winter, Abe and the Bureaucracy: Tightening the Reins, The Diplomat, 16 June 2016,
Under Prime Minister Kubilius, the Government Office was reorganized into a Prime Minister’s Office, and given the task of assisting in the formulation and execution of government policies. This reform increased the capacities of the core government to assess the policy content of draft government decisions, at the expense of its capacity to review their legal quality. However, this latter function was moved to the Ministry of Justice. Shortly after taking power, the Butkevičius government reversed this organizational reform, reorganizing the Prime Minister’s Office once again into a Government Office. Under Prime Minister Skvernelis, the Government Office was again reorganized to better support the formulation of strategic reforms and centralize quality control of draft legal acts.

The recent development of evidence-based decision-making instruments such as a monitoring information system, a budget-program assessment system and an impact-assessment system has increased the capacity of the core government to monitor and evaluate draft government decisions based on the government’s political agenda. However, the degree of effectiveness has varied by instrument, as well as with the relevance and quality of the empirical evidence available for decision-making. After assessing the coordination of regulatory policy in Lithuania, the OECD recommended establishing an integrated strategic plan for better regulation, a high-level coordination body, and a better-regulation unit within the central government.
OECD, Regulatory Policy in Lithuania: Focusing on the Delivery Side, OECD Reviews of Regulatory Reform, OECD Publishing, Paris, 2015
The closest comparison to a government office or prime minister’s office in the U.S. system is the White House staff, along with other units of the Executive Office of the President (e.g., the Council of Economic Advisers, the Office of Management and Budget, and the National Security Council).

Because of the separation of powers, Congress or particular congressional committees sometimes compete with the president to shape policymaking in executive agencies. In response to these challenges, presidents have gradually established a large executive apparatus designed to help assert presidential control over the departments and agencies as well as enable the independence of presidential policy decisions. The total professional staff in the presidential bureaucracy vastly exceeds that of a parliamentary system’s GO or PMO, with roughly 2,500 professionals and a budget of $300 million to $400 million. Indeed, the White House has often not allowed the departments and agencies to play a major substantive role in the drafting of bills. In recent presidencies, it has increasingly dominated executive-branch policymaking. President Obama went even further than previous presidents, appointing a number of high-level presidential adviser, or so-called czars, to oversee executive-branch policymaking in specific areas.

The Trump White House is by all accounts vastly inferior in expertise and organization to that of any prior modern president. Trump has not seriously attempted to maintain orderly processes or to rely on experienced or expert judgment. Insiders have regularly described a state of “chaos,” with White House staff often preoccupied with preventing destructive behavior by the president. The Office of Management and Budget still has a large permanent staff that can analyze bills, but the president’s use of such expertise is accidental or haphazard.
The Chancellery is organized into six directorates, with various numbers of subgroups that are again subdivided to better “mirror” the line ministries (“Spiegelreferate”). However, only four directorates with their sub-directorates (Referate) mirror the respective line ministries and may evaluate the ministerial draft bills. During the last Merkel government and especially in the last two years before the 2017 federal election, party politics dominated. The Social Democrats as well as CDU and CSU ministers for the most part developed and drafted their policies independently of the chancellor and the Chancellery. No coordination nor cooperation between the line ministries took place. In general, the Chancellery does not autonomously evaluate important draft bills or assess them according to strategic and to budgetary government guidelines. In addition, it appears that its capacities are generally lower than those of the line ministries. With respect to European politics and international tasks, the Chancellery seems to coordinate with partners and to function quite effectively.

However, during the recent refugee crisis, in 2015 the cabinet decided upon a new coordination concept. The head of the Chancellery, Peter Altmaier, became responsible for general coordination and a new staff position was introduced. The Ministry of the Interior remained in charge of operational coordination and its existing steering group was strengthened. However, in all other policy areas the powers of the Chancellery remain astonishingly limited.
The center of government has traditionally struggled to coordinate and evaluate government legislation. As with previous governments, in the period under review, under the Syriza-ANEL government, draft legislation has rarely been subjected to substantive and systematic evaluation. In fact, ministers have often been able to insert last-minute amendments into legislation in order to favor selected interest groups, organizations or municipalities.

Under Syriza-ANEL there have been several offices and/or committees that have been entrusted with steering the individual ministers and government initiatives in sectoral policy. As was the case before 2015, a primary role is played by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). A second relevant organ, which collects, registers and circulates documents is the General Secretariat of Coordination of Governmental Tasks, which is also very close to the prime minister. Α third such organ is the Office of the Vice-President of the Government, which oversees policy in some crucial sectors such as public debt management. It is unclear if these organs, all of which are monitored more or less by the PMO have clearly demarcated areas of competences and sectoral expertise.

In fact, in the period under review, interministerial coordination was largely carried out by a small informal circle of government ministers and advisers to the prime minister who met daily. This was a practice common to previous governments as well.
The Prime Minister’s Office has the fewest staff members of any of the country’s ministries and a limited capacity for independently assessing draft bills. The left-wing cabinet (2009-2013) merged a number of ministries together, reducing the total number of ministries from 12 to 8. A primary justification was that some ministries lacked broad-based expertise and the merger would make this expertise more widely accessible, which has in some cases been achieved. The Gunnlaugsson center-right cabinet (2013-2016) partially reversed this reform in 2013 by appointing separate ministers to head the Ministry of Welfare’s subdivisions of Social Affairs and Housing, and Health Affairs. Furthermore, a separate minister of environment and resources was appointed at the end of 2014. These changes increased the number of ministers from 8 to 10. After the 2016 elections a cabinet comprising three parties was established – the Benediktsson cabinet coalition. This led to an increase in ministerial posts from 10 to 11. The Ministry of Interior was split in two so that separate ministers took care of justice, and communications and local government affairs. The increase from 8 to 11 from 2009 to 2017 indicates that political parties tend to behave as interest organizations of politicians. The draft constitution from 2011/2012 stipulates that the number of cabinet ministers must not exceed 10.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) relies on sectoral policy expertise. Its need for a staff of independent and professional analysts originally led to the establishment of the National Economic Council, the National Security Council and the Policy Planning Department that advises the prime minister directly. The 2012 Kochik committee viewed these as positive but insufficient steps, and recommended that the PMO’s consulting mechanism be strengthened.

Recent changes have shifted this system somewhat. The PMO’s planning reforms have de facto given it the capacity to advise other ministries regarding their policy proposals and bills. This is practically done via collaboration with (and to some extent supervision of) the ministries’ vice directors of strategic planning and economy, who are officially the heads of the ministerial planning units.
Arian, Asher, “Politics in Israel: The Second Republic,” 2nd Edition 2005 (Hebrew).
“The committee to investigate the Prime Minister’s headquarter,” Official report (April 2012).

Transparency report of the planning and strategy units and their interaction with private consultation firms,” Knesset Committee Protocol, 21.11.2016,
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as a rule evaluates all draft bills before they are submitted to the Council of Ministers for approval. This scrutiny however mainly deals with legal aspects (which largely concern compatibility with European laws) as the PMO itself does not have the systematic sectoral expertise that would allow it to conduct a detailed policy scrutiny. This means that intervention by the PMO is in general more reactive than proactive. The office gets more deeply involved in issues when problems emerge during the policymaking process. Important draft bills are in general scrutinized by the office with regard to the effects a bill may have on the cohesion of the majority coalition. A detailed scrutiny of the financial implications of each bill is conducted by the Treasury, which has a kind of preventive veto power. The previous prime minister, Renzi, had a dominant role in government. Both Renzi and his personal political staff had significant influence in steering the cabinet. In contrast, the current prime minister, Gentiloni, has adopted a softer leadership style when guiding the cabinet. The PMO’s staff has not changed significantly and its limited size does not allow it to fully control the technical aspects of legislation. As a result, corrections to legislative proposals are often necessary during parliamentary approval.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) employs around 40 civil servants, mostly trained in law, economics and political science. As a result, the PMO does not have sufficient resources to assess all the activities of government ministries. Due to the limited capacities of all ministries, including the PMO, there is no management body or special committee designated to manage interministerial coordination. After the inauguration of the new government in December 2013, interministerial coordination presented some difficulties.

Senior civil servants in the ministries prepare a “pré-conseil” or pre-briefing for the weekly meeting of ministers (conseil de gouvernement). All draft bills must be adopted at both stages before being introduced to parliament as well as revised within these two interministerial meetings. In addition, the Inspectorate General of Finance (Inspection générale des finances, IGF) evaluates draft bills and participates in numerous committees.
“Budgeting in Luxembourg: Analysis and recommendations.” OECD Journal on Budgeting, Supplement 1, vol. 2012, 2013, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

“Conseil de gouvernement.” Le portal de l’actualité gouvermentale, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

“Gouvernement.” Le portal de l’actualité gouvermentale, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

“Inspection générale de la sécurité sociale.” Ministère de la Sécurité Sociale, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

Inspection générale des finances, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.
The policy expertise of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister was strengthened under the Tusk government. Under the PiS government, the quality of the staff has declined as the main principle is political obedience, not expertise or professionalism.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has limited policy expertise. While it is able to assess bills, it lacks in-depth policy assessment capabilities within most policy areas. Under the preceding Passos Coelho government, policy assessment largely centered on budgetary implications, notably in terms of reducing costs and/or increasing revenue. This was particularly true during the bailout period, but persisted into the post-bailout. Under the Costa government, budgetary implications have remained important, as the government has sought to maintain its euro zone commitments. However, this government also evaluates how policy proposals might impact its parliamentary entente with its governing partners, the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP), the Left Bloc (BE) and the Greens (PEV).
The Dutch prime minister is formally in charge of coordinating government policy as a whole, and has a concomitant range of powers, which include deciding on the composition of the Council of Ministers’ agenda and formulating its conclusions and decisions; chairing Council of Ministers meetings, committees (onderraad) and (in most cases) ministerial committees; adjudicating interdepartmental conflicts; serving as the primary press spokesperson and first speaker in the States General; and speaking in international forums and arenas (e.g., European Union and the United Nations) on behalf of the Council of Ministers and the Dutch government as a whole.

The prime minister’s own Ministry of General Affairs office has some 14 advising councilors (raadadviseurs, with junior assistants) at its disposal. The advising councillors are top-level civil servants, not political appointees. In addition, the prime minister has a special relationship with the Scientific Council of Government Policy. Sometimes, deputy directors of the planning agencies play the role of secretaries for interdepartmental “front gates.” To conclude, the Prime Minister’s Office and the prime minister himself have a rather limited capacity to evaluate the policy content of line ministry proposals unless they openly clash with the government platform (regeeraccoord). Of course, personal skills and experience make a difference, but structural capacity remains weakly developed. For example, the prime minister has been unable to anticipate and prevent serious political problems in key departments, such as the Ministry of Justice and Security, and Ministry of Defense, where several cabinet ministers had to resign.

Additional reference:
R.B. Andeweg and G.A. Irwin (2014), Governance and politics of the Netherlands. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

M. Rutte, De minister-president: een aanbouw aan het huis van Thorbecke, Lecture by the Prime Minister, 12 October 2016 (, consulted 8 November 2016)

‘“Onvermijdelijke” aftreden Van der Steur op de voet gevolgd,’,, 26 January 2017, consulted 10 October 2017.

“Jeanine Hennis stapt op als minister van Defensie.,” NRC-Handelsblad, 3 October 2017
The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise, but does not evaluate draft bills.
Two aspects of Austria’s governance system limit the efficiency of interministerial coordination. First, members of the cabinet (“Ministerrat,” which is officially translated as the Council of Ministers but is essentially a cabinet) all enjoy the same legal status. The federal chancellor, who chairs the cabinet, is only first among equals. He or she has no formal authority over the other members of the council. Secondly, with the exception of the years between 1966 and 1983, Austria has been governed by coalitions since 1945. This further reduces the authority of the head of government, as another member of the government – typically the vice-chancellor, is head of another part in the coalition. The result is a significant fragmentation of strategic capacities. Responsibility within the government is distributed among highly autonomous ministers and among political parties linked by a coalition agreement but nevertheless competing for votes.

The Federal Chancellery does have a department called the Legal and Constitutional Service (Verfassungsdienst), which is responsible for checking the constitutionality of policy proposals coming from the various ministries. Another instrument of oversight is the evaluation of policy effects (Wirkungsorientierte Folgenabschätzung, WFA) that as of 2013 must be integrated into every policy proposal. Under this policy, every draft law has to include an evaluation of its effects in financial, social and other terms, thus enabling other members of government to evaluate its consequences. The cabinet is de facto a collective leadership, complicated by the conflicting interests of coalition partners.

The new coalition government (between the ÖVP and FPÖ) will not be able to change the structural conditions of the system. Any strengthening of the position of the chancellor will not be in the interest of the vice-chancellor. The new coalition (like the outgoing) will be based on a balance between two equally strong partners.
Czech Rep.
The Government Office is relatively small and has little sectoral policy expertise. To partially compensate for this weakness, it also uses the services of consultants on the basis of commercial contracts.
The GO and prime minister’s support structures primarily provide consulting services, monitor governmental processes and provide technical (judicial) expertise. There is no capacity to perform substantial evaluation of line-ministry proposals. Two OECD governance reports (2011; 2015) have pointed out that national policymaking lacks coherence and interministerial cooperation. Despite the action plan for the implementation of OECD recommendations (2014), no significant improvement has been achieved so far. The 2015 OECD report recommends that the government sharpens it focus and concentrates, at maximum, on five policy priorities. The current government of Ratas has defined four priorities in the “Basic Principles of the Government Coalition” for the 2016 – 2019 period. This step was not, however, accompanied by another also recommended by the OECD: to give the GO more discretion in (re)allocating organizational, financial and human resources for the implementation of key priorities. However, in March 2017, the cabinet discussed increasing the strategic coordinating role of the prime minister and GO with draft law amendments expected in 2018.
Government ministries in Malta enjoy almost complete autonomy, with limitations only in the form of budgetary constraints imposed by the Ministry of Finance and cabinet approval. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) relies largely on the attorney general’s office to evaluate draft bills, while consulting specialists on non-legal issues. Before going to the Attorney General’s Office, draft laws and policies are scrutinized in cabinet. The employment of more sectoral policy experts has added to this improvement.

In March 2013, the government appointed a minister, as part of the PMO, to oversee the implementation of the government’s manifesto and more recently introduced a specific strategy to implement the government’s program. This strategy operates on a three-year planning cycle in conjunction with the budgetary cycle implementation program. In this context, every policy measure in the budget is assigned to a ministry. The ministry then has full responsibility for the policy and draws up an action plan, which is monitored on a monthly basis by the OPM; areas of concern are flagged and brought to the attention of the public service and cabinet. The PMO has more recently demonstrated a greater ability to respond to policy implementation failures. Malta’s EU presidency has also contributed strongly toward ministerial coordination. Great efforts are also being made to upgrade the capacity of the public service through the recruitment of graduates with specialized training. In collaboration with the University of Malta, MCAST and other bodies, the government has recently established the Institute for Public Service (IPS) to coordinate training at all levels. However, a number of policy failures indicate that more time is required for these reforms to bear fruit.
Sansone, K Justice to be transferred to OPM - Labor MP is Commissioner Against Bureaucracy Times of Malta 18/06/13
The organization of the Government Office underwent some changes in the period under review. Until January 2017, it featured two bodies involved in interministerial coordination, the General Secretariat of the Government (GSG) and the Prime Minister’s Chancellery (PMC). Whereas the GSG focused on the formal coordination, the PMC, consisting of about 15 state counselors with different backgrounds, provided the policy expertise. In January 2017, Prime Minister Grindeanu dismantled the PMC and transferred its responsibilities to the GSG. Once appointed, its predecessor, Prime Minister Tudose, re-established the PMC and the old dual structure. These changes have infringed upon the government office’s capacity to do comprehensive evaluations of draft bills.
OECD (2016): Public Governance Scan Romania. Paris (
Slovakia has a strong tradition of departmentalism and collegial cabinets, and these two features have deepened under the current coalition, comprised of three very different parties, which was formed after the parliamentary elections in April 2016. The Government Office focuses on the legal and technical coherence of draft bills, but lacks the capacity and sectoral expertise to evaluate their policy content.
Blondel, J., F. Müller-Rommel, D. Malová et al. (2007): Governing New Democracies. Basingstoke/ London: Palgrave.
The Swiss political system does not have a prime minister or a prime minister’s office. The government is a collegial body. However, there are several instruments of interministerial coordination and various mechanisms by which ministries’ draft bills are evaluated. Departments engage in a formal process of consultation when drafting proposals, the Department of Justice provides legal evaluations of draft bills, and the Federal Chancellery and Federal Council provide political coordination.
Due to the double role of the Federal Council as a collegial unit with the task of producing widely acceptable proposals, and individual federal councilors as heads of departments with the task of satisfying their parties’ programs and their department policies, coordination becomes more difficult with the increasing political polarization between government parties.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has established a General Directorate of Laws and Decrees and a General Directorate of Legislation Development and Publication. The directorates scrutinize bylaws prepared by ministries and public agencies, examining their congruity with existing draft bills, decrees, statutes, regulations and Council of Minister resolutions. The General Directorate of Legislation Development and Publication also examines the congruity between existing legislation, development plans and programs, and the government’s program. The Directorate of Administration Development, which employs 13 experts and researchers, deals with standardization. These units are the primary government entities charged with drafting and coordinating new regulations. However, not all draft bills are the product of expert advice. Recently, the number of adjustments to draft bills made during the parliamentary-approval process indicated that standards were only partially upheld.

During the review period, the PMO had a total of 2,253 employees, a quarter of whom were experts or advisers, or able to provide similar services. A Sectoral Monitoring and Assessment Unit was established to provide advice to the PMO in 2011. In May 2015, about 266 career employees from various public institutions were assigned to this unit. Critics argue that these senior civil servants lack sufficient resources, as well as incentives for effective action. Until the “cleansing” activities of the government following the 15 July coup attempt, the unit was also alleged to be a “detention camp” for bureaucrats supposedly close to illegal Gülenist organizations.
TC Başbakanlık 2016 Yılı Faaliyet Raporu, poru.pdf (accessed 1 November 2017)
Cinnah’taki toplama kampı, Taraf daily newspaper, 25 September 2015, (accessed 27 October 2015)
Kamuda Paralel tasfiyesi, Akşam daily newspaper, 12 September 2015, (accessed 27 October 2015)
The official government office in Bulgaria, the Council of Ministers’ administration, plays a mainly administrative role. It prepares cabinet meetings but lacks the capacity for in-depth evaluation of the policy content of line-ministry proposals. Specialized directorates within the Council of Ministers’ administration do review submissions from the line ministries, but deal less with substance than with ensuring that submissions are presented in the appropriate format. The prime minister’s own political-cabinet staff is relatively small and has little expertise to evaluate the policy content of line-ministry proposals.
Slovenia has a strong tradition of departmentalism and collegial cabinets. The Government Office focuses on the legal and technical coherence of draft bills but lacks the capacity and sectoral expertise to evaluate their policy content, especially since the recruitment of expert staff is limited and often subject to political pressures and political compromise. The change in the head of the Government Office in October 2016 – from Darko Krašovec, who had to resign after allegations of corruptions, to Lilijana Kozlovič, a member of parliament belonging to Prime Minister Cera’s SMC party – did not change the situation.
Until 2014, the Prime Minister’s Office lacked a central policy unit able to evaluate and coordinate the activities of the line ministries. At the beginning of 2014, a unit for public policy coordination and support to the prime minister was established in the Prime Minister’s Office. The unit is tasked with coordinating and monitoring public polices performed by line ministries. However, the capacity of the staff to provide reliable applied policy analysis is limited.
The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
Under Cyprus’s presidential system, competent line ministries draft bills and send them to the secretariat of the Council of Ministers. The secretariat supports the cabinet’s work and forwards its decisions to concerned offices. Advice, limited to the constitutionality of drafts, is provided by the Attorney General’s Office.

Under the law on fiscal responsibility there might be some GO control, but this mostly focuses on budgetary aspects. While no constitutional clause supports assignment of such powers, a body with expertise on the subject, the secretariat of the Council of Ministers, lacks such expertise.
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