Organizational Reform


To what extent does the government improve its strategic capacity by changing the institutional arrangements of governing?

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
Lithuania’s government has in some cases improved its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements. The Kubilius government made significant changes to existing government structures and procedures in order to enhance its policy capacity. According to the governmental Sunset Commission, the number of central-level institutions decreased from 1,190 in 2008 to 855 in 2011. The Butkevičius government re-established the Strategic Committee and maintained a number of the institutional bodies established under the previous government (such as the State Progress Council and the Sunset Commission, which was renamed the Public Management Improvement Commission). More recently, the Skvernelis government developed a new concept paper on the institutional set-up of public administration, which proposed reducing the number of institutions by 15%. The government also proposed reforming the structure of line ministries on the basis of a standard template. However, the parliament rejected the proposed amendments to the Law on Public Administration and the Law on Civil Service, which were necessary for the implementation of these reforms. Although the country has developed or improved a number of evidence-based instruments over the past five years (such as functional-review processes and the monitoring and evaluation of budget programs), their use in promoting strategic and long-term decisions has been limited.
Saulėlydžio komisija, Valstybės valdymo tobulinimo komisijos (Saulėlydžio Komisijos) 2009–2012 m. veiklos ataskaita: rezultatai ir gairės tolesniems pokyčiams. 27.11.2012.
OECD, Regulatory Policy in Lithuania: Focusing on the Delivery Side, OECD Reviews of Regulatory Reform, OECD Publishing, Paris, 2015
New Zealand
Major adaptations to the multiparty system and coalition government occurred in the mid- to late 1990s. An effective framework is in place with the Cabinet Manual, which has begun to attract more and more interest from other jurisdictions. Cabinet office circulars are used for minor changes. Particularly after the change of government in 2008, a number of such modifications were made. One area of institutional change that has been largely neglected has been the reform of parliament’s conventions and opportunities for public engagement.
Cabinet Manual: (accessed October 30, 2015).
Grant Duncan, 2014: New Zealand’s Cabinet Manual: How Does It Shape Constitutional Conventions?, Parliamentary Affairs 2015, 68:4, 737-756.
While the structural design of the Swedish system looks almost identical to how it did a century ago, there have been substantive changes in the modus operandi of institutions at all levels of government, particularly concerning the relationship between institutions. Perhaps most importantly, coordination among government departments has increased. Furthermore, the agency system is continuously reviewed and the structure of the system is reformed, for instance through mergers of agencies. Third, the departments’ steering of the agency has increased, formally and informally.

It is fair to say that the design and functionality of the system is continuously assessed. Over the past decade, issues related to steering and central control have dominated reform ambitions. Again, governments have not hesitated to alter the configuration of departments or agencies when deemed necessary to reflect the changing agenda of the government.
The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
The last major reform within the public sector was the structural reform of 2007, which resulted in larger municipalities and fewer regions. In addition, the 2012 Budget Law brought about a different way of managing public finances. Importantly, there is now a system of sanctions vis-à-vis municipalities and regions. The new regime has ensured that public finances remain under control and has, in this sense, achieved its goal. Through the new budgeting system, the government has improved its strategic ability to reach its goals.

There is ongoing discussion on how to improve efficiency and productivity within the public sector. Now major institutional changes have been made to reach these objectives, whereby policies have been changed (e.g., changes within primary schooling).
Ejersbo og Greve, Modernisering af den offentlige sektor, Børsens forlag, 2005.

The Danish Government, Denmark’s National Reform Programme, May 2011. (accessed 27 April 2013).

Lene Dalsgaard and Henning Jørgensen, Kvaliteten der blev væk: Kvalitetsreform og modernisering af den offentlige sektor. Copenhagen: Frydenlund, 2010.

Carsten Greve and Niels Ejersbo, Udviklingen i styringen af den offentlige sektor. Baggrundspapir til Produktivitetskommissionen. (Accessed 22 October 2014).
In general, institutional reforms intended to improve the government’s management capacities are extremely rare. As in other countries, strategic capacities and reform efforts are heavily influenced by constitutional and public-governance structures and traditions. The federal system assigns considerable independent authority to the states. In turn, the states have a crucial role in implementing federal legislation. This creates a complex environment with many institutional veto players across different levels. Institutional and organizational inertia spells for low levels of strategic capacity. The German Federalism Reforms, which together represent one of the more far-reaching institutional changes of recent years, have started to have an impact on the adaptability of the federal politics (Reus/Zohlnhöfer 2015).

In 2016, the federal level and the states reached an agreement on the next steps for federal reform. The federal level will from 2020 shift substantial resources to the states and, in return, will gain more competences, mainly in tax administration.

Iris Reus/Reimut Zohlnhöfer, 2015: Die christlich-liberale Koalition als Nutznießer der Föderalismusreform? Die Rolle des Bundesrates und die Entwicklung des Föderalismus unter der zweiten Regierung Merkel, in: Reimut Zohlnhöfer and Thomas Saalfeld (eds.): Politik im Schatten der Krise. Eine Bilanz der Regierung Merkel, 2009-2013, Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 245-272:

Dominic Heinz, 2016: Coordination in budget policy after the Second Federal Reform: Beyond Unity and Diversity, in: German Politics 25 (2), 286-300.
Iceland’s recent governments have sought to improve the central government’s strategic capacity by reviewing ministerial structures. The 2007-2009 cabinet of Haarde initiated this process, while the 2009-2013 cabinet of Sigurðardóttir continued this process by reducing the number of ministries from 12 to 8 and reshuffling ministerial responsibilities. Some of the ministries were administratively weak because of their small size. The capacity of these small ministries to cope with complex policy issues, such as international negotiations, was inefficient and ineffective. Further, the informality of small ministries was a disadvantage. The 2013-2016 and 2017-2017 cabinets, however, have more or less reversed these reforms by again increasing the number of ministers by three.
The regular review of decision-making procedures results in frequent reforms aimed at improving the system. Changes in institutional arrangements, such as the establishment of the PKC in 2010, have significantly improved the government’s strategic capacity and ability to undertake long-term strategic planning.
Institutional reform is an ongoing process, with frequent reorganizations aimed at improving strategic capacity taking place. This includes changes in ministerial responsibilities and portfolios.
As mentioned above, the organizational flexibility of both the core executive and the distribution of tasks to specific ministries is a core characteristic of the UK system of government. Cabinet reorganizations and new institutional arrangements have often been the prime minister’s weapon of choice to improve government performance. However, such reorganization can also be motivated by intra-party politics or public pressure, and it is difficult to systematically evaluate the success of specific measures in enhancing the strategic capacity of the government. Recent civil service reforms have also served to enhance strategic capacity, while various open data initiatives have increased government transparency.

Very substantial changes in governance do occur, with recent examples including the restoration of a lead role in financial supervision to the Bank of England, the alteration of the basis for financial regulation, and a shift in the balance between state, market and external agencies in the delivery of public goods.

The proposed separation of the United Kingdom from the European Union will test the system’s ability to reform and adapt. The creation of the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is a first attempt to ensure modern industrial strategies after Brexit.
Australia largely accepts and implements recommendations from formal government reviews. Investigations have covered all aspects of government including, finance, taxation, social welfare, defense, security and the environment. There have been frequent structural changes to the main Commonwealth government departments, sometimes in response to changing demands and responsibilities, but sometimes simply for political reasons that serve no strategic purpose and may indeed be strategically detrimental. For example, the main department that is responsible for health care has changed its name at least five times in the past two decades in response to changes in its responsibilities. Of course, the change of names alone might not be sufficient. For instance, there has also been a long debate on the need to improve the country’s infrastructure, but implementation in this area has been rather disappointing.
While institutional arrangements have not changed much, the Sipilä government has continuosly considered plans to promote and implement strategic aims within government and to reduce costs. These plans have included merging ministries and reallocating ministerial responsibilities, but the outcome of these efforts have been less than successful. Plans some years ago to merge the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry were heavily opposed and later developments largely justified the criticism. Among other reallocation efforts, a merger of the Ministries of Justice and Employment failed to the extent that it became necessary to cancel the merger. Several factors, including the fairly high degree of independence accorded to Finnish ministries and broad nature of recent cabinets, tend to undermine policy coordination across government bodies, highlighting the need for reforms that improve coordination. The Sipilä government’s strategic goals are discussed regularly in Iltakoulu (evening sessions), an informal meeting between ministry staffers and heads of the parliamentary groups. The sessions serve as a venue for in-depth consultation and consensus-building.
French governments are usually reactive to the need to adapt and adjust to new challenges and pressures. These adaptations are not always based on a thorough evaluation of the benefits and drawbacks of the foreseen changes, however. A case in point is the reluctance of most governments to take seriously into consideration the recommendations of international organizations, if they do not fit with the views and short-term interests of the governing coalition. Resistance from vested interests also limits the quality and depth of reforms. Too often the changes, even if initially ambitious, become merely cosmetic or messy adjustments (when not dropped altogether). This triggers hostility to change, while in fact very little has been done. The new Macron administration is reminiscent of the Gaullist period at the beginning of the Fifth Republic, with its strong commitment to radical reforms (“heroic” rather than “incremental” style). The initial months of the presidency have already attained considerable achievements, but one might wonder if French society’s deep-rooted reluctance to change will not put a brake to this “bonapartist” storm.
Radical change was called for in the wake of the dramatic policy and governance failures that contributed to the severity of the crisis. However, the specific reforms implemented have been relatively limited and some of the initial momentum has been lost as the government enters its final year and a general election looms. Nonetheless, improvements in strategic capacity introduced during the period of the Troika agreement have been retained.

Institutional arrangements for supervising and regulating the financial-services sector have been overhauled to address shortcomings that contributed to the crisis. The Department of Finance has been restructured and strengthened, a Fiscal Advisory Council established, and a parliamentary inquiry into the banking crisis completed its public hearings.

During this dáil, members of the Dáil Eireann elected the Ceann Comhairle (Speaker of the House) directly by secret ballot for the first time. All parliamentary committees have been established and committee chairs appointed using the D’Hondt system. Under the new system, 13 of the 19 core committees are chaired by opposition members.
Reforms regarding government planning, regulations, innovation, information sharing and performance evaluation are based on principles of decentralization, privatization and regulation. While many structural reforms are pursued with the aim of improving decision-making in the interest of the common good, some elements of the government administration still perform insufficiently, including overly complex bureaucratic arrangements, and a lack of adequate policy planning design due to politicization. As seen in the case of local municipalities, modern management tools and monitoring agencies are still unable to effectively tackle entrenched political attitudes and centralized organizational cultures, under which designated authorities and cabinets bypass formal structures in order to accelerate planning processes.
Arlozerov, Merav, “Israeli government; The reform that will end the Treasury’s single rule; Will lose a major part of its authorities,” TheMarker 13.2.2013 (Hebrew)

Dahan, Momi, “Why do local authorities hold back pay?,” IDI website 15.11.2009 (Hebrew)

“Employing and management in the public service,” Conference in the name of Eli Horovitz 2013: (Hebrew)

Milman, Omri, “Mayors to Kahlon: ‘If you would promote the differential allocation we won’t build in our territory’“, Calcalist 2.9.2015

“The CEO of the social-economic cabinet approved the establishment of an authority for technological innovation,” Minister of the Economy website 15.9.2014: (Hebrew)

Vigoda, Eran and Penny, Yuval, “Public sector performance in Israel” (October 2001), (Hebrew)

OECD, “Multi level Governance Reforms. Overview of OECD country experiences,” 2017,
Despite several years of public debate, successive governments have been unable to significantly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of central government. The attempt of the Renzi government to introduce a broad constitutional reform was strongly rejected by the referendum of December 2016. The reform had aimed to reduce the delays caused by and veto powers originating from the perfect bicameralism, and redistribute powers between regional and central governments to make the responsibilities of each level clearer. The rejection of the reform demonstrated the difficulties of introducing broad reforms. The current government has followed a more prudent approach, and concentrated on promoting an electoral reform with the purpose of making the political configuration of the two chambers more similar and reducing the possibility of deadlock. The current government’s success in this field suggests that incremental transformations are more easily attainable.
The failure of the reform initiatives led by the pre-Abe DPJ governments demonstrated the difficulties of trying to transplant elements from a different political system (in this case, Westminster-style cabinet-centered policymaking) into a political environment with a tradition of parallel party-centered policy deliberation. In comparison, the post-2012 Abe-led government has been quite successful in pushing at least portions of its policy agenda through parliament. It is open to debate whether the centralization of power at the cabinet level has been the most important factor or whether the strong majority in both houses of parliament, paired with opposing political parties’ weakness, has been at least as important. The passage of the security laws in 2015 – a major success from the government’s perspective – may seem to provide evidence of more robust institutional arrangements than in earlier years. However, problems in moving the government’s economic-reform agenda decisively forward, particularly in fields such as labor-market reform, suggest that the Abe-led government too has struggled to overcome resistance to change in a number of policy areas.
The previous government’s 2009 program outlined a series of administrative reforms. One of the most ambitious, the general opening of the civil service to citizens of the European Union, with the exception of some positions relating to national sovereignty, came into effect on 1 January 2010. The change is expected to gradually improve the quality of government administration. Nevertheless, the number of EU citizens hired remains low at approximately 5%, especially in the higher ranks. This is due to a compulsory language test in the three national languages (Luxembourgish, French and German), which limits the number of applications from non-nationals who are not fluent in all of these languages. Other reforms are directed to e-government, such as the 2018 planned implementation of freedom of information legislation. Substantial efforts have been made towards e-government with, the online service portal for citizenship and business matters.
“Luxembourg: eGovernment State of Play.” European Commission, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

“Luxembourg.” European Commission, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

“Programme national de réforme du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg dans le cadre du semestre européen 2017.” Le gouvernement du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, 2017, Accessed 21 Dec. 2017.

“Providing an Alternative to Silence: Towards Greater Protection and Support for Whistleblowers in the EU.” Transparency International Luxembourg, 2013, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

“Projet de loi relative à une administration transparente et ouverte.” Chambre des députés 2017. Accessed 21 Dec. 2017.
Accession to the EU has improved the government’s strategic capacity. Furthermore, with support from the University of Malta and Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology, there is now greater emphasis on capacity-building and change-management training for senior public officers. Meeting long-term objectives and adhering to EU directives have given rise to a number of departments and authorities designed to respond to this challenge. Certain regulatory and enforcement mechanisms remain weak. Some improvement has been registered as a result of the 2017 EU presidency and efforts to improve continue.
During the period under review, which coincided with the new government appointed after the 2016 elections and the beginning of a new legislative term, some minor changes were made to the names and responsibilities of some departments. This includes, for example, industry policy being added to the what is now titled the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness and a department for energy and digital agenda issues was created. However, the internal central-government structure and the procedures of governing have remained almost unchanged.
A more substantial and comprehensive improvement could have been achieved through an interministerial administrative-reform process (CORA), but the scope of this process been somewhat limited despite being praised by the OECD. The CORA reform has mainly consisted of a reduction in the number of extant units due to strict budgetary considerations, without paying attention to the government’s strategic capacity to make and implement political decisions. Over the past years the central government and subnational governments were incapable of taking the necessary institutional reforms to prepare the country for future challenges.
Rajoy’s new Cabinet (2016):
http://www.lamoncloa.gob.e s/lang/en/gobierno/gabinete/Paginas /index.aspx
There is little public evidence that changes in institutional arrangements have significantly improved the strategic-governance capacity of Canada’s federal government. These may have produced marginal improvements. For example, the establishment of Service Canada as a delivery platform for government services was a major organizational change in the 2000s. There has been no comprehensive evaluation of this reform.

In certain cases, there may actually be too much organizational change, given that such change can be very disruptive and costly. For example, in 2004, Human Resources Development Canada was split into two departments. In 2008, the two departments were merged again. In 2013, HRSDC again changed its name, this time to the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), with little if any rationale provided for this change. It is unclear what benefits, if any, arose from this departmental reshuffling. The frequency of departmental reorganizations has diminished in recent years, which is probably a positive development. However, in 2017, the Liberal government announced that Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada would be split into two departments, the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, and the Department of Indigenous Services. The two departments will focus on renewing a nation-to-nation relationship and improving the quality of services available, respectively. Although this is a significant change that was called for in 1996 by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, it is too early to tell how effective this change will be.

The Phoenix pay system, which centralized the payroll function of the federal government, was introduced by the Conservatives and continued by the Liberals. It has been an unmitigated disaster with many public servants experiencing long delays in receiving their salaries.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. Highlights from the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, posted at
In recent years, some improvements in strategic capacity have been made by modifying institutional arrangements. For example, in 2012 the erstwhile Planning Ministry (Ministerio de Planificación, MIDEPLAN) was transformed into the Ministry of Social Development (Ministerio de Desarrollo Social, MDS), with some minor institutional changes that increased its strategic capacity. Furthermore, the creation and implementation of complementary institutions such as the environmental tribunals (Tribunales Ambientales) and the Supervisory Board for the Environment (Superintendencia de Medio Ambiente, SMA) in 2013 have improved capacity in these areas. But in general terms, attempts to alter institutional arrangements tend to encounter very substantial bureaucratic obstacles.
Czech Rep.
After the shift from indirect to direct presidential elections in January 2013, the institutional structures of governing have undergone no major changes. However, the Sobotka goverment sought to improve its strategic capacity by bringing in more expert advice and increasing public consultation.
The Syriza-ANEL government tried to enhance its strategic capacity in several ways. Prime Minister Tsipras has appointed three ministers without portfolio to assist him in carrying out his tasks and plan reforms. In addition, Tsipras has assigned some sensitive strategic tasks to Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis and his team, such as plans for restructuring the Greek public debt. Meanwhile, the Council of Administrative Reform continued its operation to oversee reforms in various policy sectors. The Hellenic Fiscal Council, an independent agency (an obligation under the Second Memorandum), started operation in the period under review, monitoring state finances.
While Mexican policy elites are often receptive to new ideas and open to administrative reform, many of these reforms remain unimplemented and are abandoned before they can take root. This is especially true with regard to domestic security and law enforcement. Too often, the re-drawing of organizational diagrams has taken precedence over the implementation of desperately needed, but difficult structural reforms to strengthen the rule of law. Moreover, the most important challenge currently consists of improving the effectiveness of existing institutions.

The current government, driven by strong reform pressures in the administrative, social and security sectors, has followed this general trend. The administration created the “Pact for Mexico,” which was signed by the heads of the main political parties very shortly after President Peña Nieto took office. The president has shown an affinity for a governing model characterized by independent agencies entrusted with decision-making powers. His administration has fallen short when it comes to transparency and accountability for how reform decisions are made; and overall, implementation has fallen short.
South Korea
The Moon administration is expected to carry out some institutional reforms during his term. Most importantly, the new president has pledged to decentralize the political system by transferring previously centralized powers to national ministries and agencies as well as to regional and local governments. Moon has expressed a willingness to reform national institutions including the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the judiciary and public agencies, and has said he would request the support of the National Assembly in developing the reforms. One key proposal from Moon’s campaign was to reform the prosecutorial system by removing all or part of its investigative powers, and instead establishing an independent body that can investigate and indict high-ranking government officials. The president has also reaffirmed his commitment to reforming the military, with the aim of boosting Korea’s offensive capabilities.

With regard to constitutional revision, Moon has proposed transforming the current five-year, single-term presidency into a four-year, double-term (contingent upon re-election) system, with a national vote on the change to be held in 2018. He has suggested that the legislature should pass a revision bill early that year in order to facilitate a national referendum on the revised constitution held in parallel with the June 2018 local elections. Such a constitutional change would most likely improve the president’s strategic capacity and reduce the lame-duck period, while the proposed decentralization of power would keep the president from interfering with the day-to-day activities of subordinate institutions.
Korea Herald. What Moon Jae-in pledged to do as president. May 10, 2017.
Yonhap News. Moon reaffirms commitment to military reform, reinforcement. August 20, 2017.
No major changes have taken place in strategic arrangements or capacities beyond what has already been mentioned regarding externally driven policy coordination in fiscal and economic matters. Generally, strategic capacity is rather strong. Though there are signs that government officials are aware of a need for strategic change. However, due to the long period of austerity, which is only now coming to an end, strategic capacities have not been strengthened. Experiments in participatory budgeting and local democracy may somewhat harness citizen knowledge and expertise to local government.
According to Law 5018 on Public Financial Management and Control, all public institutions, including municipalities and special provincial administrations, must prepare strategic plans. All public bodies have designated a separate department for developing strategy and coordination efforts; however, these departments are not yet completely functional. Maximizing strategic capacity requires resources, expert knowledge, an adequate budget and a participatory approach. The government lacks sufficient personnel to meet the requirements of strategic planning, performance-based programs and activity reports. In this respect, several training and internship programs have been established.

During the assessment period, Turkey developed sectoral strategies and action plans for 2015 – 2018 on biotechnology, entrepreneurship, small and medium scale enterprises, productivity and information society. Several strategy documents were also prepared such as a National Employment Strategy. Also, a National Strategy of Regional Development was prepared for the period 2014 – 2023. The central government’s institutions and agencies, local administrations, universities, and the state economic enterprises (KİTs) also prepared strategic plans.

Advocates of a presidential system, argue that it will bring greater efficiency and effectiveness. However, the state of emergency decrees and practices, and the urgent need to harmonize current legislation with recent constitutional amendments undermines strategic thinking and improvements in public administration.
Kalkınma Bakanlığı, Kamuda Stratejik Yönetim Çalışma Grubu Raporu, Ankara, 2013.
Neşe Songör, “Türk Kamu Yönetiminde Stratejik Planlama ve Uygulamalara İlişkin Genel Bir Değerlendirme” Strategic Public Management Journal (SPMJ), Issue No: 1, October 2015, 56-78.
Stratejik Yönetimde Kapasite Geliştirme Teknik Destek Projesi Revize Edilmiş Taslak Boşluk Değerlendirme Raporu,, (accessed 27 October 2015)
Kamuda Stratejik Yönetim, (accessed 27 October 2015)
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2014-15, (accessed 27 October 2015)
“Kamu yönetimi sil baştan: Cumhurbaşkanlığına bağlı tarım, çevre ve ekonomi ofisleri kurulacak,” 31 October 2017, (accessed 1 November 2017)
The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
The government usually promises more innovation at the beginning of a legislative period than it can deliver in fact. Desired improvements are often prevented by constitutional limitations (such as the collective character of the Austrian cabinet) and by internal rivalries within the coalition governments. The government’s overall strategic capacity is for this reason suboptimal.

A very good example can be seen in the field of education, where no headway has been made in two key areas: dismantling the socially exclusive effects of the school system and improving Austrian universities’ international standards. The parties may agree in principle on what needs to be done, but veto powers are able to block meaningful reforms during the legislative period.
Bulgarian government bodies do have the capacity to reform, both in the case of reforms initiated from within and reforms originating externally. It is becoming customary for ministries to publish their medium-term plans, including potential reforms, simultaneously with the publication of the proposed national budget for the coming year. However, no such documents or framework envisaging changes in governance as part of a strategic plan concerning improvements in governing capacity can be found among these plans yet.
Upon taking office, the first Plenković government slightly changed the cabinet structure. In April 2017, it created a new expert council, the Council for Demographic Revival. Save for these changes, however, the government did little to improve its strategic capacity by means of institutional reform. It did not take up the plans for a reorganization of public administration, presented at the beginning of 2016 by Dubravka Jurlina Alibegović, minister of public administration in the Orešković government. The change in the governing coalition in mid-2017 has led to changes in ministers but has left the cabinet structure untouched.
Efforts to improve the efficiency of the administration continued mostly through legal measures, some of which were blocked by parliament. They aim, among other things, at improving personnel selection and promotion, speeding up procedures, creating control mechanisms, and clearing confusion on roles and competences. Clear indications of capacities improving are scarce.

Improvements, such as expanding strategic planning capacities and establishing monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, have only just begun. Both will require extensive professional training among personnel.
Top politicians and executive officials widely understand the problem of fragmented policymaking as it was highlighted in the OECD Governance Report. Yet the government has responded to the OECD’s call to move “toward a single government approach” only at the rhetorical level. Strategic capacity remains located within line ministries, and not in the Prime Minister’s Office. Policymakers consult academic experts only sporadically, and mainly in the context of concrete reforms.
There is no evidence that the Costa government significantly changed institutional arrangements in such a way as to improve strategic capacity during the period under review.
In the period under review, practically no changes in institutional arrangements were adopted. The planned amendment of the Act on Civil Service has progressed, but the planned Civil Service Council has not yet started functioning. In 2017, the implementation of the Operational Program Efficient Public Administration funded by the European Social Fund started. In May, the first 12 national projects were launched.
At the beginning of its term, the Cerar government increased the number of ministries from 13 to 16 and changed ministerial portfolios. By establishing separate ministries for public administration, infrastructure and environment/spatial planning, as well as by creating a ministry without a portfolio responsible for development, strategic projects and cohesion, the Cerar government improved its strategic capacity. The strengthening of the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy and the changing procedures associated with the creation of a new ministry for development, strategic projects and cohesion have helped to substantially increase the absorption rate. The government’s Public Administration Development Strategy 2015-2020 adopted in April 2015 is relatively brief on institutional reform. Same goes for the Strategy for the Development of Local Self-Government until 2020, adopted in October 2016. The main goal of the strategy is to strengthen local self-government and improve the quality of life at the local level. It focuses on strengthening citizen’s influence and their participation in decision-making by local self-government bodies in order to ensure the efficient use of public resources and the provision of efficient local services. However, strategy is very vague and loose, and was not positively accepted by all three associations of municipalities.
Government of the Republic of Slovenia (2015): Public Administration 2020: Public Administration Development Strategy 2015-2020. Ljubljana ( rategija_razvoja_JU_2015-2020/Strategija_razvoja_ANG_final_web.pdf).
Ministry for Public Administration (2016): Strategija razvoja lokalne samouprave do 2020 (Strategy of local government development until 2020). Ljubljana ( si/pageuploads/lok-sam-2015/aktualno-ls/strateg-ls/12_SRLS_16.9.2016.pdf).
The federal government has sought to improve its institutional arrangements through the adoption of new administrative techniques (specifically, new public management practices) and a number of other organizational changes. However, whenever the central government has sought to engage in substantial change through institutional reform (e.g., through reorganization of the Federal Council and the collegiate system), it has met with resistance on the part of the public and the cantons, which do not want more resources or powers to go to the federal level. This has limited the range of feasible institutional reforms.

While the basic structures of federalism and direct democracy are very robust, and direct democracy provides incentives for political parties to cooperate within the context of power-sharing structures, lower-level government structures are subject to constant change. Recent examples of such change have affected parliamentary practices, fiscal federalism and the judicial system, canton- and communal-level electoral systems, communal organization and public management. Nevertheless, one of the most important reforms, the reorganization of the Federal Council and its collegiate system, has failed despite several attempts. While the Federal Council is not prone to institutional reforms, the administrative body undertakes reforms quite frequently, not least as a substitute for a lack of government reforms.
Upon entering office, the PiS government has changed the institutional arrangements of governing. It has changed the portfolios of ministries several times, set up new cabinet committees, overhauled the Civil Service Act and strengthened the position of central government vis-à-vis subnational governments. However, the strategic capacity of the PiS government has primarily rested on its majority in parliament, the strong party discipline and the uncontested role of party leader Jarosław Kaczyński. No reforms were introduced to improve strategic capacity through an open involvement of, for example, scientific expertise. The main priority of the government is to follow its ideological positions and to secure executive power.
The U.S. government is exceptionally resistant to constructive institutional reform. There are several major sources of rigidity. First, the requirements for amending the constitution to change core institutions are virtually impossible to meet. Second, statutory institutional change requires agreement between the president, the Senate and the House, all of which may have conflicting interests on institutional matters. Third, the committee system in Congress gives members significant personal career stakes in the existing division of jurisdictions, a barrier to change not only in congressional committees themselves but in the organization of the executive-branch agencies that the committees oversee. Fourth, the Senate operates with a supermajority requirement (the requirement of 60 votes, a three-fifths majority, to invoke “cloture” and end a filibuster), and changes in Senate procedures themselves are normally subject to the same procedures. Fifth, as was the case from 2011 to 2016, the president and Congress often represent different political parties with competing institutional interests, and one party is highly inclined to obstruct the other.
Most reforms are the consequence of bargaining between power levels, with successive political tensions between the federal government, Flanders and Wallonia Eventually, protracted negotiations typically end up with some type of compromise that rarely improves overall efficiency.

The main case in point is the Brussels capital region (which is restricted to about one-fourth the actual Brussels agglomeration in terms of area, and one-half in terms of population). Its restricted boundaries result in numerous overlapping jurisdictions with Flanders and Wallonia. Moreover, within the Brussels region, competences are split between the 19 communes and the region. This creates another layer of overlap and gridlock, in particular for city planning. The creation of a pedestrian zone in the city center, without sufficient coordination with the other communes or the region, created major traffic jams. Questions regarding the Brussels airport or the highway “ring” around Brussels are managed by Flanders. The building of a rapid train service toward the south (to provide alternative transportation to Walloon commuters) is largely managed by Wallonia, which has priorities beyond reducing traffic in Brussels.

However, as the general process has trended toward decentralization, local efforts have had positive effects and can be seen as an improvement in strategic capacity.
Institutional reforms under the Grindeanu and the Tudose governments were largely confined to changes in the portfolios of ministries. The Grindeanu government increased the number of ministries from 21 to 26. It had two ministers dealing with EU funds, none of which was able to help Romania increase its absorption rate. The Tudose government even started with 27 ministers. Neither of the governments addressed issues such as the lack of strategic planning or the low quality of RIA. Pledged subnational administration reforms were not implemented.
The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
From time to time, Orbán has reorganized the workings of his government with an open effort to get rid of managing smaller issues and promoting rivalry in the top elite to weaken them, but without improving the strategic capacity of government. In the period under review, the government created a new Competitiveness Council and announced the creation of a cabinet committee on family affairs. In October 2017, two new ministers were appointed for campaign reasons. János Süli, a former Fidesz mayor of Paks and an expert in nuclear physics became the minister in charge of defending the controversial new Paks-2 nuclear power plant; Lajos Kósa, the minister for the modern cities program, was vested with the power to allocate substantial public funds for city development. The appointment of the two ministers further increased the number of government members. While Orbán back in 2010 emphasized the need for small government, the third Orbán government in autum 2017 consisted of 178 ministers, state secretaries and deputy state secretaries, twice the number of the Bajnai government in 2010. The appointment of Süli and Kósa went hand in hand with a weakening of János Lázár, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, and is to further weaken coordination within government.
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