Interministerial Coordination


To what extent do line ministries involve the government office/prime minister’s office in the preparation of policy proposals?

There are inter-related capacities for coordination in the GO/PMO and line ministries.
Before implementation, each government project is submitted to the ministers’ council, which meets weekly. The council is composed of a secretariat that scrutinizes each proposal before it is debated and prepares the ministers’ council agenda, and 14 line ministers and the prime minister, who debate each proposal. Decisions are made on the basis of political consensus, not of majority vote.

Either directly or through the council’s secretariat, the prime minister can block any item presented and either return it for redrafting or turn it down completely. This may be because a project does not fit the government agreement or conflicts with one of the coalition parties’ agenda, but can be for any other reason as well. All government members must by contrast defend accepted projects on a collegial basis.
In the U.S. system, this item relates to how the executive departments and agencies involve the president and the White House in their work. In fact, however, president and the White House are dominant within the executive branch, and can therefore prioritize issues they see as important to the president’s agenda. This tends to happen in two general ways. If a department or agency is seeking significant legislation, then the White House is essentially in charge of policy development. It may allow a cabinet official to have major influence or even appoint him or her to chair a committee tasked with formulating options for the president, or it may relegate the relevant cabinet officials to secondary roles.

If the agency is developing an important administrative regulation or other policy that does not require legislation, then the administration’s generally numerous political appointees in the agency will respond to White House direction. If the matter is judged important for the president, the relevant White House experts may make the main decisions. In the Trump administration, agency policy development has been heavily shaped by Trump’s desire to cut regulations and, especially, to reverse actions taken by the Obama administration. There has been little policy development shaped by long-term agency missions or priorities.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC) is always involved at an early stage in assisting with the development and drafting of any significant government policy and the resulting legislation. The PMC and the other relevant department have to both agree on a policy before it can be tabled in cabinet or considered by the relevant minister or ministers.
Line departments and central agencies have interrelated or complementary capacities for the coordination of policy proposals, with ultimate authority lying with central agencies. Thus, line ministries in Canada have a relatively high level of responsibility to involve the government office, the PCO, in the preparation of policy proposals. On the other hand, it is well known that line departments are not always forthcoming with information that may cast their departments in a bad light.
The Government or Cabinet Office (Ministerio Secretaría General de Gobierno, Segegob) and line ministries have a strong tendency to coordinate activity, and in practice the president or Government Office and the Ministry of Finance are nearly always involved in the preparation of policy proposals. No serving minister would ignore the president’s opinion in the preparation and elaboration of a policy proposal.
The norms of “minister rule” and the “resort” principle (where ministers are in charge of certain areas) give the line ministries a fair amount of autonomy. It is also the line ministries that have the most technical expertise. Nonetheless, to achieve coherent government policy, interdepartmental coordination takes place. Since most governments are coalition governments this is particularly important. This is not a hierarchical coordination, but is rather based on negotiations. The prime minister has a special position given his/her constitutional prerogatives as the person who appoints and dismisses ministers. Major issues and strategic considerations are dealt with in the government coordination committee (regeringens koordineringsudvalg) involving the prime minister and other key ministers. The standing committees are also important coordination devices. In addition, there are ad hoc coordination meetings between the leaders of the parties constituting the governing coalition. The current three-party government formed in November 2016 is a minority government. The prime minister must maintain contact with the leaders of the other government parties, the Conservatives and Liberal Alliance, and the Danish People’s Party.

The Ministry of Finance also plays an important role whenever financial resources are involved. No minister can go to the finance committee of the parliament (Folketinget) without prior agreement from the Ministry of Finance. The position of the Ministry of Finance has been strengthened by the “budget law” adopted in 2012, establishing a clear top-down approach for the budget process.

Apart from coordinating the preparation of next year’s finances, the Ministry of Finance is also involved in formulating general economic policy and offering economic and administrative assessments of the consequences of proposed laws.
Jørgen Grønnegård Christensen et al., Politik og forvaltning, 4. udg., 2017.

“Regeringen indgår aftale om ny budgetlov,” (Accessed 10 October 2015)
The guiding rule in Finland is that each ministry is, within its mandate, responsible for the preparation of issues that fall within the scope of government and also for the proper functioning of the administration. Given this framework, rather than line ministries involving the Prime Minister’s Office in policy preparation, the expectation is that the Prime Minister’s Office involves ministries in its own policy preparations. In practice, of course, the patterns of interaction are not fixed. For one thing, policy programs and other intersectoral subject matters in the cabinet program are a concern for the Prime Minister’s Office as well as for the ministries, and efforts must be coordinated. The government’s analysis, assessment and research activities that support policymaking across the ministries are coordinated by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). In addition, because decision-making is collective and consensual in nature, ministry attempts to place items on the cabinet’s agenda without involving the Prime Minister’s Office will fail. Finland has a recent tradition of fairly broad-based coalition governments; this tradition amalgamates ideological antagonisms and thereby mitigates against fragmentation along ministerial and sectoral lines.
Jaakko Nousiainen, “Politiikan huipulla. Ministerit ja ministeriöt Suomen parlamentaarisessa järjestelmässä”, Porvoo: Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö, 1992, p. 163.
Line ministers have to inform the prime minister of all their projects. Strong discipline, even at the public communication level, is imposed, and this rule is reinforced by the attitude of the media, which tend to cover any slight policy difference as the expression of political tension or party divergence. Not only the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) oversees the policy process but also his cabinet assistants, in each area, supervise, liaise and coordinate with their counterparts in line ministries about the content, timing and political sequences of a project. The secretary-general of the PMO (as well as his counterpart at the Elysée) operates in the shadow, but he is one of the most powerful actors within that machinery. He can step in if the coordination or control process at that level has failed to stem the expression of differences within the government. Traditionally the secretary-general is a member of the Conseil d’État and – in spite of the fact that he could be fired at any time for any reason – there is a tradition of continuity and stability beyond the fluctuation and vagaries of political life.
Under the Orbán governments, line ministries have mostly acted as executive agencies which are following orders from above and whose activities have been subject to detailed oversight by the PMO. In practice, however, ministers have been unable to oversee their portfolios, especially in the huge Ministry of Human Resources (EMMI) with its ten state secretaries and 20 deputies. The regular involvement of the PMO has led to delays, disorientation and frequent policy failures.
The Prime Minister’s Office is involved in legislative and expenditure proposals. The process is a highly interactive one, with much feedback between the line ministries, the prime minister’s office and the office of the attorney general. The Department of Finance has considerable input into all proposals with revenue or expenditure implications. Any significant policy items have to be discussed in advance with the Department of the Taoiseach. The Cabinet Handbook lays out detailed procedural rules for the discussion of policy proposals and the drafting of legislation. It is publicly available on the website of the Department of the Taoiseach.
New Zealand
If line ministries prepare a policy proposal, they are obliged to consult other ministries that are affected as well as the coordinating units, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), the Treasury and the State Services Commission. There are clear guidelines which not only de jure but also de facto govern the coordination of policy formulation in the core executive.
CabGuide – Consultation: (accessed October 9, 2014).
Cabinet Manual: (accessed October 24, 2015).
South Korea
Executive power is concentrated in the president. Thus, line ministries have to involve the Blue House in all major policy proposals. The president has the authority to, and often does rearrange, merge and abolish ministries according to his or her agenda. For example, President Moon created a Ministry of SMEs and Startups; renamed the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning as the Ministry of Science and ICT, and merged the National Security Agency and the Ministry of Public Administration and Security into a single Ministry of the Interior and Safety. He also (re-)established the National Fire Agency and the Korea Coast Guard abolished by his predecessor. However, while Moon has promised to decentralize power, there have as yet been few signs of any weakening in the role of the Blue House. The Blue House sometimes lacks sufficient knowledge and human-resources capacity to act effectively in certain policy areas. The Blue House gets involved with and coordinates certain policies through the exertion of political dominance rather than through administrative capability.
The Cabinet Office is at the center of policymaking. Since the May 2015 general election, all line ministries are required to prepare single departmental plans (SDP), building on a process already launched during the previous coalition government. As explained by John Manzoni, the Chief Executive of the civil service appointed in October 2014, these SDPs are intended to bring together inputs and outputs, clarify trade-offs, and to identify where departments and the cross-departmental functions need to work together to deliver the required outcomes.

The creation of implementation taskforces, working alongside cabinet committees, is intended to strengthen the central oversight of policy proposals.

Nevertheless, some of the political tensions around Brexit have complicated the coordination process
The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
Due to a strong tradition of ministerial independence, ministries have considerable flexibility in drafting their own policy proposals without consulting the Prime Minister’s Office. Yet, where a minister and prime minister belong to the same party, there is usually some Prime Minister’s Office involvement. However, where the minister and prime minister belong to separate coalition parties the Prime Minister’s Office has little or no involvement in policy development. After the publication of the Special Investigation Committee report in 2010, a committee was formed to evaluate and suggest necessary steps toward the improvement of public administration. In order to improve working conditions within the executive branch, the committee proposed introducing legislation to clarify the prime minister’s role and responsibilities. In March 2016, new regulations on governmental procedures were approved (Reglur um starfshætti ríkisstjórnar), requiring ministers to present all bills they intend to present in parliament first to the cabinet as a whole.
Reglur um starfshætti ríkisstjórnar. Nr. 292/2016 18. mars 2016.

Skýrsla starfshóps forsætisráðuneytisins (2010): Viðbrögð stjórnsýslunnar við skýrslu rannsóknarnefndar Alþingis. Reykjavík, Forsætisráðuneytið.
In Japan, the role of line ministries vis-à-vis the government office is complicated by the influence of a third set of actors: entities within the governing parties. During the decades of the LDP’s postwar rule, the party’s own policymaking organ, the Policy (Affairs) Research Council (PARC) developed considerable influence, ultimately gaining the power to vet and approve policy proposals in all areas of government policy.

Under the LDP-led government in power since December 2012, Prime Minister Abe has tried successfully to make certain that he and his close confidants determine the direction of major policy proposals. The reform program does indeed show the influence of the Cabinet Office, with the ministries either following this course or trying to drag their feet. Abe’s main instrument is the Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs, which grants control over more than 600 appointments, or as many as half a dozen political appointees per ministry.

Still, ministries can try to regain former clout over their areas. For example, the METI industry ministry has become somewhat more assertive again in trying to influence industry, through still guided by the priorities of Abenomics.
Leo Lewis and Kana Inagaki, Japan Inc.: Heavy meddling, The Financial Times, 15 March 2016,
Since its establishment in 2011, the PKC has become increasingly involved in line ministry preparation of policy proposals. PKC representatives are invited to participate in working groups. Involvement of the PKC is at the ministry’s discretion. Informal lines of communication ensure that the PKC is regularly briefed on upcoming policy proposals.

Latvia has a “fragmented” cabinet government system. Consequently, ministers enjoy relatively substantial autonomy, weakening the power of the prime minister. As a result, ministers belonging to a different party than the prime minister will attempt to block the prime minister’s office from interfering in sensitive policy issues whenever possible.
The Prime Minister’s Office is not legally allowed to be involved in the preparation of bills or proposals by line ministries. Sensitive political proposals are often contained in the coalition program. There are no institutionalized mechanisms of coordination between line ministries and there is no unit dealing with policy assessment and evaluation. Informally, however, no sensitive proposal is presented to the Council of Ministers without being approved beforehand by the prime minister. An informal body of ministerial civil servants meets ahead of the Council of Ministers, to prepare the agenda and make adjustments if needed. Even though the prime minister has not held the influential finance portfolio since 2009, his central role in the governance process has not been weakened.
“Arrêté grand-ducal du 28 janvier 2015 portant constitution des Ministères.” Journal officiel du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, 30 Jan. 2015, Accessed 28 Dec. 2017.

“Gouvernement.” Le portal de l’actualité gouvermentale, Accessed 28 Dec. 2017.

Le gouvernement du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg. Le Service information et presse du gouvernement luxembourgeois, 2013. Accessed 28 Dec. 2017.
Responsibility for the preparation of policies lies with line ministries. As a matter of routine, line ministries will involve the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice, when addressing potentially controversial matters and for the purpose of coordinating with other policies. This interaction often involves ongoing two-way communication during the planning process. Initiatives lacking support by the Office of the Prime Minister would not win cabinet approval.
Both the Government Office and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) are regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals by line ministries. Although these offices are formally autonomous, the legal and political hierarchy within the Spanish government facilitates and even encourages this pattern of consultation with the prime minister’s entourage. Consultation with the GO tends to focus on drafting or technical issues, while the PMO is more interested in political and strategic considerations.

The process is firmly institutionalized and takes place weekly, since representatives of all ministries gather at the cabinet meeting preparatory committee (Comisión General de Subsecretarios y Secretarios de Estado), which is held every Wednesday and chaired by the GO head and the deputy prime minister. Advisers from the PMO also participate in this committee and in the important specialized ministerial committee on economic affairs (see “Cabinet Committees”) that also assists the Council of Ministers. However, even if the primary joint role of the GO and the PMO is horizontal coordination, their administrative resources are limited, and the deputy prime minister and prime minister’s advisers cannot be briefed on the whole range of government activity. Therefore, they normally focus on each ministerial department’s most important sectoral developments, as well as the prime minister’s particular interests.
Ley 39/2015, del Procedimiento Administrativo Común de las Administraciones Públicas BOE-A-2015-10565
Generally, line-ministry legislative or white-paper initiatives are rooted in the government policy accord, EU policy coordination, and subsequent Council of Ministers decisions to allocate drafting to one or two particular ministries. In the case of complex problems, draft legislation may involve considerable jockeying for position among the various line ministries. The prime minister is always involved in the kick-off of major new policy initiatives and sometimes in the wording of the assignment itself. After that, however, it may take between six months and four years before the issue reaches the decision-making stage in ministerial and Council of Ministers committees, and again comes under the formal review of the prime minister. Meanwhile, the prime minister is obliged to rely on informal coordination with his fellow ministers.
R.B. Andeweg and G.A. Irwin ( 2014), Governance and politics of the Netherlands. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Two different forms exist to communicate line ministries’ proposals to the GO. Firstly, all policy initiatives are discussed in coalition council. Second, the cabinet informally examines all substantial issues at its weekly meetings. No binding decisions are made in the meetings, the main function being to exchange information and to prepare for formal government sessions. The new coalition appears to be more coordinated despite ideological differences.
The PMO has undergone continuous structural reforms since the mid-2000s. Several committees, including Trajtenberg and Kuchik (both established in 2011), issued recommendations regarding PMO working dynamics with other line ministries, while also taking into account the country’s highly fragmented party system (in which ministers are nominated according to political alliances) and the overly centralized budgeting process.

In recent years, the PMO has become more involved in ministries’ preparation of policy proposals through various channels. For example, the PMO’s chief of staff heads a forum of the director generals of all line ministries, with the goal of advancing policy agendas and interministerial cooperation. The PMO is also involved in the preparation of policy proposals through its professional councils and roundtable initiatives. Its oversight capabilities, demonstrated by its yearly publication of government working plans, result in further involvement. However, the Kuchnik committee noted that the PMO tends to overreach and control policy formation more than is advisable when facing comparatively weaker ministries. In the last few years, special emphasis has been placed on the heads of planning units, and on giving them control of, or at least strong involvement in, all policy, budget and bill proposals.
“About: The governance committee,” PMO website (Hebrew)

“Governmental planning guide,” PMO website (september 2010) (Hebrew)
“Strengthening government’s governability, planning and execution – Continue discussion,” PMO website 25.12.2011 (Hebrew)

Koren, Ora, “Line ministries will submit budget drafts – and will not be able to blame the treasury,” TheMarker website 13.11.2012 (Hebrew)

“The committee for reviewing the PMO,” official state publication (2012): (Hebrew).

“The system,” Policy planning PMO website (Hebrew)

Working Plan Book 2017-18, PMO Office, March 2017: (Hebrew)
“Failures of the public sector and directions for change,” Public sharing – The committee for economic and social change (2011) (Hebrew)
The Prime Minister’s Office is regularly kept informed of the development of policy proposals generated by line ministries. With regard to the policy proposals of particular political relevance for the government, the consultation process starts from the early stages of drafting and is more significant, involving not only formal but also substantive issues. In the fields less directly connected with the main mission of the government, exchanges are more formal and occur only when proposals have been fully drafted. Moreover, given that the Gentiloni government was only formed in the last year of the current parliamentary term without a well-articulated government program, control over line ministries is less strong than in previous governments. For example, several ministers respond more readily to their party leader than to the head of government.
The government adopts multiannual political priorities, coordinates their implementation and regularly monitors progress. As a result, it focuses on policy proposals and strategic projects related to these annual priorities. The majority of policy proposals are initiated by ministries and other state institutions, but the Government Office is kept informed with regard to their status and content. The fact that all policy areas are legally assigned to particular ministers, coupled with the fact that since 2000 governments have been formed by party coalitions rather than a single party, has meant that line ministries enjoy considerable autonomy within their policy areas. The Government Office is sometimes called upon to mediate policy disagreements between line ministries. Under the Skvernelis government, a new commission for strategic projects has been established to coordinate 41 IT, infrastructure and change projects. The commission is chaired by the prime minister, and includes a government chancellor; a prime ministerial adviser; and ministers for finance, foreign affairs, and transport and communication.
Given Mexico’s presidential system, cabinet ministers are respectful of and even deferential to the presidential office. Moreover, cabinet ministers dismissed by the president after disagreements rarely find a way back into high-level politics, which promotes loyalty to the president and presidential staff. Accordingly, senior figures in the presidential office are very powerful, because they determine access to the president and can influence ministerial careers. President Peña Nieto has built his cabinet around two super-ministries and ministers, the finance minister and the minister of interior, and good personal relations with the president are important for cabinet members.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
The leadership of the GO and the PMO are primarily involved when policies are initiated; when final decisions are to be made; and if a disagreement emerges among the governing parties or ministers. However, the line nature of the GO organization –and the chain of command between the political and the administrative levels – means that the top leadership, apart from initiating and deciding on policy, does not routinely monitor its development. There are instead regular briefings and informal consultations. This informal coordination procedure nevertheless ensures that the PMO, in line with the finance ministry, play a crucial role in policy developments. Also, there are established but informal rules regulating procedures when there is disagreement among the non-political advisers on how to design policy. Essentially, the political level of the department should only be consulted when its ruling is critical to policy formulation; otherwise policy design should rest with non-partisan members of staff.

When the government is made up of more than one party, as has been the case for most of Sweden’s recent history, there are mechanisms in place when disagreement arises. Either the political leadership proactively intervenes in the policy-planning process to resolve disagreements or such disagreements are “lifted” to the political level for a ruling.

It should also be noted that line ministries frequently ask for advice from the executive agencies during the early stages of the policy process.
Jacobsson, B., J. Pierre and G. Sundström (2015), Governing the Embedded State (Oxford: Oxford University 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).

Page, E. C. (2012), Policy Without Politicians: Bureaucratic Influence in Comparative Perspective (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Premfors, R. and G. Sundström (2007), Regeringskansliet (Malmö: Liber).
Switzerland’s government consists of only seven ministries, each of which has a broad area of competency and is responsible for a large variety of issues. There are no line ministries. However, there are federal offices and institutions connected to the various ministries. These work closely with the minister responsible for their group. Since ministers must achieve a large majority on the Federal Council in order to win success for a proposal, there is strong coordination between offices. Indeed, political coordination among the high ranks of the administration can be rather intense, although the limited capacity and time of the Federal Council members, as well as their diverging interests, create practical bottlenecks.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has a twofold role in the preparation of draft bills. It checks the congruity of laws from a legal point of view, and collects ministries’ legal and political opinions along with opinions from civil society, interest and pressure groups, expert groups and institutions. Thus, the PMO is always directly involved in the preparation of policy proposals at a relatively early stage.

However, line ministries do not always provide all the information necessary for draft bills, particularly in the case of information that may cast their ministry in a bad light. From time to time, policymaking is tarnished by issues of bureaucratic competition, including among politicians. The PMO’s inability to foster interministerial cooperation has been a serious institutional shortcoming. A recent reorganization of the PMO and line ministries led to some performance declines. Conflicting announcements regarding policy proposals made by the PMO and line ministries have been a sign of weak coordination.

The Ministry of Development was assigned as the primary consultation body in preparing policies according to the decision on the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the government’s program. After the parliamentary election of 1 November 2015, government proposals to restructure the ministries and increase their number were made. Several new public units such as the National Mine Institute were additionally established. It remains to be seen whether this kind of institutional fragmentation of policymaking will hinder or enhance the effectiveness of policy coordination and accountability.

During the review period, it is assumed that the president worked closely with the line ministries, although there is little public evidence of this. It is unclear how the current system will be transformed into a presidential system.
TC Başbakanlık Kanunlar ve Kararlar Genel Müdürlüğü Performans Raporu 2014, (accessed 5 November 2014)
2017 Programının Uygulanması, Koordinasyonu ve İzlenmesine İlişkin Karar, Resmi Gazete, 19 October 2017, (accessed 1 November 2017)
Line ministries tend to prepare policy proposals independently and introduce them to the prime minister and the Council of Ministers when they are completed. The prime minister and the Council of Ministers’ administration are consulted in advance only when the proposals cross ministerial lines and on issues related to legal compatibility with other proposed or existing legislation. Even in such cases, the involvement of the Council of Ministers’ administration tends to focus mainly on technical and drafting issues and formal legal considerations. There are no official procedures for consulting the prime minister during the preparation of policy proposals.
Czech Rep.
The legislative plan of the government divides tasks among the ministries and other central bodies of the state administration and sets deadlines for the submission of bills to the cabinet. The line ministry has to involve, and take comments from, a range of institutions, including the Government Office and the Government Legislative Council. This consultation process primarily focuses on technical issues and the harmonization of legal norms.
The preparation of bills is mainly the prerogative of the line ministries (Ressortprinzip). Over the course of regular policy processes, the Chancellery is most of the time well informed, but is not strongly involved in ministerial initiatives. Most disputes between ministries and the Chancellery are discussed and resolved in the often-weekly meetings between the state secretaries and the Chancellery’s staff. Prior to the elections in September 2017, the line ministries and their respective policies became more independent of the chancellor and the Chancellery subgroups (Spiegelreferate)
Since the onset of the crisis in 2010, the PMO has gradually acquired more power and resources to supervise line ministries, the policies of which were streamlined to fit the fiscal consolidation effort of Greece.

However, during the period under review, the PMO’s coordination of line ministries was further enhanced, as Greece overcame the hurdle of the Second Review of its Economic Adjustment Program. Greece accomplished this task only in mid-2017, after long delays. The same tendency toward closer coordination of line ministries occurred in the second half of 2017, as the government began negotiations with representatives of Greece’s lenders on the Third Review of the Economic Adjustment Program. However, the PMO is not the only authority with which line ministries consult. In fact, as the implementation of the Third Economic Adjustment Program for Greece unfolds, line ministers often turn to the Ministry of Finance for technical and drafting issues, in case legislation under development in individual ministries runs into financial constraints imposed by its international lenders.
Kevin Featherstone and Dimitris Papadimitriou (2013), “The Emperor Has No Clothes! Power and Resources within the Greek Core Executive,” Governance, Vol. 26, Issue 3, pp. 523-545.
Under the PiS government, the Chancellery has kept its enhanced formal involvement in the preparation of policy proposals by the line ministries. As its gatekeeping role has declined, however, so has its actual influence on the development of policy proposals.
Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
Since 2013, a sustained effort at coordination has been made in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and in line ministries. During the period under review, the government established an office within the PMO to coordinate the policies contained in the ruling party’s electoral manifesto. In a new review strategy, ministries monitor the outputs of policies previously discussed with the cabinet; the OPM then monitors policies until they are implemented and supports the ministries in their implementation. Coordination meetings are also organized by the OPM bringing together the various ministries. Decisions taken by ministries have more than once been rescinded by the PMO, a practice less common in the past. The PMO may also seek to review its own policies with the help of the Management Efficiency Unit and occasionally employs consultants. Cabinet meetings have allowed experts to give direct advice to ministers, a departure from the past. From time to time, cabinet meetings are held in different regions for the purpose of consultations.
Policy proposals are usually drafted within ministries. The Secretariat General of the Government provides administrative and legal support for policymaking. The Prime Minister’s Chancellery usually becomes involved only after the compulsory public-consultation procedures are finalized. While the prime minister occasionally gets publicly involved in debating certain legislative proposals and may contradict line ministers, the final decision on the content of the policy proposal tends to be made by the line ministry.
As all ministers are equal, the autonomy of line ministries is substantial. The chancellor cannot determine the outlines of government policy and does not have to be involved in the drafting of legislation. Normally, however, proposals are coordinated by the prime minister’s office. Formally, the Federal Ministry of Finance can offer its opinion as to whether a proposal fits into the government’s overall budget policy. The Ministry of Finance thus has a kind of cross-cutting power.
Line ministries consult with the government’s Legislation Office, but this consultation is mostly formal, focusing on technical and drafting issues. Ministries normally enjoy huge leeway in transforming government priorities into legislation, and there is no stable and transparent arbitration scheme that would give the Prime Minister’s Office a formal role in settling interministerial differences.
In Slovakia, the government manifesto defines certain priorities that are elaborated in legislative plans. These additionally divide tasks and responsibilities among the line ministries and other central bodies, and set deadlines for the submission of bills to the cabinet. In their policy-development process, the line ministries legally must include a range of institutions and interest groups that are defined as stakeholders in their respective fields. Ministries are also obliged to consult with the Government Office and its legislative council as they develop bills. However, full responsibility for drafting bills has traditionally rested with the line ministries, and consultation with the Government Office is mainly technical. In its attempt to formalize his leading position within the government, Prime Minister Fico has increased the monitoring activities of the Government Office, especially those related to EU structural funds.
The structure of functions within the presidential palace has an ad hoc character, determined for the duration of a president’s mandate. The tasks of the Council of Ministers’ secretariat are limited, with no power or capacity to draft laws or review proposed policies. The Attorney General’s Office is involved in the examination of policy proposals and draft laws, providing no more than legal advice. Ministries tasked with drafting laws can refer to policies formulated by the government, or to frameworks proposed by interministerial committees or issued by the cabinet. Draft laws are discussed only during the deliberation process in the Council of Ministers.

Under the law on fiscal responsibility, the budgetary aspects of policy proposals are controlled by the minister of finance to ensure compliance with general budget plans. The establishment of a central coordinating body for ensuring compliance with the government’s strategic fiscal plan is foreseen.
The Government Office is not directly and systematically involved in line ministries’ preparation of policy proposals. Once the coalition agreement and government program have defined certain projects, full responsibility for drafting bills rests with the line ministries, interministerial or project teams. The Government Office is seldom briefed about the state of affairs. If it is, consultation is rather formal and focuses mostly on legal and technical issues.
Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
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