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 several 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%. These organizational changes had initially been sluggish, but are likely to advance since the parliament’s approval of amendments to the Law on Civil Service and the Law on Public Administration in the middle of 2018. Also, Lithuanian authorities decided to rename two government ministries: the Ministry of National Economy will become the Ministry of Economy and Innovation after consolidating responsibility for innovation (digital economy and IT infrastructure), while the Ministry of Education and Science will add “Sport” to its name after gaining control over for this policy field. The Skvernelis government decided to centralize support services for more than 100 central-level institutions by establishing the National Center of Shared Services, which will provide accounting, personnel management, and other support services (e.g., public procurement, property management, and document management) in the future.
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
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 (e.g., through mergers of agencies). Finally, department 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 and the 2012 Budget Law. The key element for the government’s effort to make the public sector more efficient is the 2% across-the-board budget reduction (omprioriteringsbidrag), with the savings reallocated to new initiatives. There is heated discussion about whether this will induce public institutions to increase efficiency and productivity.

The prime minister suggested a reform of health care governance in his speech at the first meeting of the parliament at the beginning of October 2018. The Danish Peoples’ Party, which supports the government, favors abolishing the regions, while the leading opposition party, the Social Democrats, is against the idea. The prime minister discussed creating 21 new health communities (sundhedsfællesskaber) to create a bridge between hospitals, municipalities and practicing doctors, without mentioning the regions.
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).

Statsministerens tale ved Folketingets åbning, 2. oktober 2018, (Accessed 7 October 2018).
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. 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. In 2017, a far-reaching reform was adopted. It contained 13 constitutional changes, touching upon areas such as financial equalization among the federal states, highway construction, better control mechanisms for the German federal government and the Federal Audit Office (concerning mixed financing between the federal and state governments), and investment grants for financially weak municipalities.
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 eight 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 three cabinets since 2013, 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.
New Zealand
In the past, New Zealand’s governments have demonstrated an ability to improve strategic capacity by changing institutional arrangements of governing. 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.
However, the Productivity Commission in its Regulatory Institutions and Practices report of 2014 found a litany of shortcomings with regulatory agencies in New Zealand. The report concluded that the governance arrangements of many regulators were ad hoc rather than based on sound governance principles, that there were problems with how the agencies were monitored, and that appointment processes for governance roles were of variable quality.
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.
New Zealand Productivity Commission 2014. Regulatory Institutions and Practices.
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 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. More generally, the government is exploiting digital technology opportunities right across the functions of government.

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.
Australia largely accepts and implements recommendations from formal government reviews. Past 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 federal 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 name alone is insufficient. 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 lackluster.
While institutional arrangements have not changed much, the Sipilä government has continuously 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 has to be aware of French society’s deep-rooted reluctance to change. For example, the violent yellow vests protest movement in November/December 2018 put a brake on this “bonapartist” storm. After 18 months of the current government, one can observe that the weak capacity of organized opposition (e.g., the trade unions, social organizations and vested interests) to the Macron administration’s reforms has given rise to spontaneous and violent grass-roots protests. Protestors have criticized the president’s top-down methods and policies, and the popularity of the president and prime minister has declined. This situation has forced the government to adopt a more cautious approach. However, if improvements are not felt within the next 12 to 18 months, the effective capacity of the government to achieve real change could be seriously challenged. In 2019, the risky reform of the pension system could be the decisive test.
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 Éireann 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.
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 planned implementation of freedom of information legislation. Substantial efforts have been made toward e-government with, the online service portal for citizenship and business matters.
“Luxembourg: e-Government State of Play.” European Commission. Accessed 24 Oct. 2018.
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. The government is working hard to make the public service more attractive to graduates, and has introduced a fast-track promotion process for those with the requisite qualifications. The government also sponsors large number of employees in obtaining the requisite qualifications through its Institute for Public Service Studies.
There is little public evidence that changes in institutional arrangements have significantly improved the strategic-governance capacity of Canada’s federal government. For example, there has been no comprehensive evaluation of Service Canada, a delivery platform for government services established in the 2000s.

In certain cases, there may actually be too much organizational change given the cost and disruption entailed. For example, in 2004 Human Resources Development Canada was split into two departments. In 2008, the two departments were merged again. In 2013, Human Resources Development Canada again changed its name, this time to the Employment and Social Development Canada, with little if any rationale provided for this change. It is unclear what benefits, if any, arose from this departmental reshuffling.

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.

The frequency of departmental reorganizations has diminished in recent years. 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.
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, or the Steering Committee for the Financial Market (Consejo de la Comisión para el Mercado Financiero) in 2018 – have improved capacity in these areas. However, in general terms, attempts to alter institutional arrangements tend to encounter substantial bureaucratic obstacles.
Under the two Babiš governments, the institutional arrangements of governing have remained largely unchanged. Prime Minister Babiš has cultivated his technocratic image by making several career civil servants ministers, but he has sought to increase the strategic capacity of his government primarily by using his strong position as ANO leader.
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.

In 2017, the State Comptroller published his first report about the operation (the second was published in March, 2018), in which he detailed several deficiencies, including that the cabinet’s authorities and jurisdictions were not specified in any piece of law. Thus, it was unclear whether or not the cabinet was a consultative or an executive body, in addition to a lack of any normative obligation of proper information transfer to this body. The State Comptroller found serious deficiencies regarding the extent and the quality of information being transferred, and even found instances when strategically important information was not transferred.

Furthermore, it is very much apparent from the report that there are serious concerns regarding the decision-making authority of the cabinet, namely whether it has authority or not, even as a military operation was concurrent. In 2018, the Basic Law: the Government and the Government Act of 2001 were only slightly amended to formulate and delineate the cabinet’s authorities, as they expressly mention that, in the very least and under certain conditions, the cabinet is authorized to declare war. And yet, at the time of writing, it is unclear if the lack of an obligation to transfer information to the cabinet, any other deficiencies related to this and other questions of decision-making authority had been resolved.
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)

Azulai, Moran. “The Ministerial Committee for Legislation to Vote on the Cabinet Act.” In Ynet. June 10th, 2017. (Hebrew).,7340,L-4973923,00.html.

Base Law: The Government (Hebrew) (Full text:

Chaimowitz, Mordecai. “The Prime Minister of a State that Woke Up from a Dream to the Worst Nightmare in Its History.” In Nrg website. September 13th, 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)

Israel. The State Comptroller. “Operation ‘Protective Edge’: The Decision Making Processes in the Cabinet Regardign Gaza Strip Before and After Operation ‘Protective Edge;’ The Management [lit. Coping] with the Tunnels’ Threat,” Special audit Report, 2017. (Hebrew). (Also available here:

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

Nuri, Dalya Gabrieli. “The Kitchen that Changed the Middle East.” In Ha’aretz website. October 22nd, 2012. (Hebrew).

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

The Government Act, 2001 (Hebrew) (Full text:
Vigoda, Eran and Penny, Yuval, “Public sector performance in Israel” (October 2001), (Hebrew)

OECD, “Multi level Governance Reforms. Overview of OECD country experiences,” 2017, id=id&accname=ocid54016459&checksum=BDF175C37A650FABDE6CC93D0FFBAB0E
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 also proposed transforming the current five-year, single-term presidency into a four-year, double-term (contingent upon reelection) system, and has envisioned reforming national institutions including the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the judiciary and various public agencies. He has said he would request the support of the National Assembly in developing the reforms. One key proposal during Moon’s campaign was to reform the public-prosecutor 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. To date, however, most far-reaching institutional reforms have been stalled because the president lacks a majority in parliament. In one important step, Moon disbanded the Defense Security Command (DSC), a military intelligence organization that had developed plans to impose martial law during the impeachment process against President Park.
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.
Martial law probe falters as suspect can’t be found, Joong Ang Daily, Nov 8, 2018
During the period under review, which coincided with a no-confidence vote in May 2018 and the formation of a new government, several important changes were introduced with regard to policy portfolios and the associated ministries. This included the creation of several new departments (including the Ministry for Territorial Policy and Civil Service), and changes in the names and responsibilities of others. As of the time of writing, the government was two-thirds female – the highest such proportion in the country’s history. This includes a Ministry of Equality chaired by the deputy prime minister. Moreover, in line with government priorities in foreign policy and poverty reduction, the Prime Minister’s Office was reinforced in 2018 with several new policy units (the High Commissioner for Combating Child Poverty and the High Commissioner for the Agenda 2030).

However, the internal central-government structure and the procedures of governing have remained almost unchanged for many years. A more substantial and comprehensive improvement could have been achieved through the interministerial administrative-reform process that took place from 2012 to 2015, but the scope of this process was somewhat limited. Despite being praised by the OECD, it paid limited attention to the government’s strategic capacity to make and implement political decisions.
June 2018, BBC, Spain’s king swears in Sanchez cabinet with majority of women
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 weak. 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. A policy mood, which is only slowly adapting to European developments, may also result in some institutional reform over the mid-term.
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.

The ÖVP-FPÖ coalition has renamed the Ministry of Justice the Ministry of Justice and Reforms. This indicates that institutional innovation is high on the government’s agenda. But, as most significant reforms must be passed by parliament by a two-thirds majority, the government depends on the cooperation of at least one opposition party. This has reduced the government’s ability to implement its reform agenda, for example, regarding a new definition of power sharing between the federal and the state level. Thus, it seems that the government sometimes tries to improve its strategic capacity without reforming the institutional arrangements, since the reforms lack the necessary two-thirds majority. In the medium run, this may and will lead to more acts and laws suspended by the Austrian Constitutional Court for their alleged unconstitutionality.
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 as a part of the annual budget procedure. However, even when reforms in different spheres are seriously contemplated, reform proposals are almost never connected with strategic thinking about changes in the institutional arrangements of governance.
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. In the period under review, little progress was made in reforming public administration.
Koprić, I. (2018): Croatia, in: N. Thijs, G. Hammerschmid (eds.), Public Administration Characteristics and Performance in EU28. Luxemburg: European Union, 100-140 (
Efforts to improve the efficiency of the administration stalled in 2018 without adoption of any major reform. Published plans aim, among other things, to improve the selection and promotion of personnel, speed up procedures, create control mechanisms, and clear confusion on roles and competences. Clear indications that capacities are improving remain scarce.

Work on expanding strategic planning capacities is missing monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. Additionally, the required professional training of personnel advances slowly, with no action report available.
Top politicians and executive officials widely understand the problem of fragmented policymaking as it was highlighted in the OECD Governance Report. Yet, the government’s response to the OECD’s call to move “toward a single government approach” has been mostly rhetorical. Several think tanks (e.g., employers’ associations, Governance Reform Radar and Governance Reform Foundation) and a new party (i.e., Estonia 200) have strongly criticized the government for merely fine-tuning, instead of radically re-evaluating and reforming, the existing institutional arrangements.
The Syriza-ANEL government has tried to enhance its strategic capacity in several ways, although in practice all strategy decisions are taken by a small circle of confidants around the Greek prime minister. Prime Minister Tsipras has relied on three government ministers without portfolio to assist him in carrying out his tasks and reform plans. Meanwhile, the Council of Administrative Reform continued its operation to oversee reforms in various policy sectors. The Hellenic Fiscal Council, an independent agency (as required under the Second Memorandum), continued its operations in the period under review monitoring state finances. Similarly, the Office of the State Budget, a unit of the parliament, also continued its task of monitoring the state’s finances and suggesting changes to economic policy. However, the government’s strategic capacity fell victim to the approaching elections (taking place at the end of 2018 or beginning 2019 or in mid-2019). As a consequence, short-term electoral calculations of cost and benefit rather than long-term reform strategies became the government’s top priority. One example is the government’s November 2018 proposal to reform the constitution of Greece to reflect the governing coalition’s preferences rather than well thought-out principles on efficient political reform.
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 so far given little attention to this topic.
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 outgoing government of Enrique Pena Nieto, 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. His administration has fallen short when it comes to transparency and accountability for how reform decisions are made; and overall, implementation has fallen short.
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. There has been, and continues to be, a big debate on the “reform of the state.” Indeed, according to reporting by Susete Francisco on 17 April 2018, there is an agreement between the government and the PSD regarding “reform of the state.” There is even supposed to be a commission working on this topic. The most recent debate concerns decentralization, and the denationalization of banks and other key sectors of the economy. So far, however, it is all talk.
Since the parliamentary elections in June 2016, the institutional arrangements of governing have remained largely unchanged. The new Pellegrini government has not initiated any major institutional reforms so far. However, there has been some progress with the implementation of earlier reforms. In January 2018, the new Civil Service Council, an independent coordinating and monitoring body, eventually began operating.
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 was 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, the strategy is very vague and was not positively accepted by all three associations of municipalities. The new Šarec government has kept the structure of ministries and is yet to pay significant attention to institutional reform.
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.
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.

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 the presidential system, introduced since the April 2017 referendum, argue that it will bring greater efficiency and effectiveness to policymaking. 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.

Turkey is moderately prepared in the field of public administration reform. However, there has been serious backsliding in the areas of public service and human resource management Turkey made a progress on e-government. The European Commission’s recommendations from 2016 onward have not been implemented. There is still no comprehensive public administration reform strategy or political ownership of this reform. Inclusive public consultations and systematic regulatory impact assessments for major legal reforms have either not been carried out or have not been publicized. The politicization of public administration and the low level of female representation in the higher echelons of bureaucracy continue to be of serious concern.
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 1 November 2018)

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)
Y. Üstüner and N. Yavuz, ” Turkey’s Public Administration Today: An Overview and Appraisal,” International Journal of Public Administration, 2017.
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 (except at the beginning of each Congress) changes in Senate procedures themselves are normally subject to the same procedures. Fifth, elected politicians, such as members of Congress, are rarely willing to alter the electoral arrangements and practices that enabled them to win office. Even though American government has been in a seriously debilitated condition at least since the 2010 midterm elections, there is no apparent prospect of major institutional reform.
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 Tudose and Dăncilă governments have been largely confined to changes in the portfolios of ministries. Most notably, the Dăncilă government decided to split the Ministry for Regional Development, Public Administration and European Funds into two separate ministries and to abolish the Ministry of Public Consultation and Social Dialogue. However, these changes have failed to improve the government’s strategic capacity. The absorption of EU funds has remained low, and public consultation has further lost importance. There have been no institutional reforms to address long-standing problems such as limited planning capacities or the low quality of RIA. The pledged reforms of subnational administration have not been adopted.
The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
From time to time, Prime Minister 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. The institutional reforms introduced since the 2018 elections have not been concerned with government effectiveness but with increasing its concentration of power and managing the fourth Orbán government’s new technocratic modernization project. The latter has a rather complicated functional and personal composition involving ten ministries and ministers (one of them, Mihály Varga, is also deputy prime minister), two ministers without portfolio and, in addition, one symbolic deputy prime minister (Semjén), not mentioning the large army of prime minister commissioners and ministerial commissioners. The structure of government has radically changed with new ministries and ministers and a new allocation of competencies. Only three ministries have kept their previous function and minister: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Péter Szíjjártó), the Ministry of Interior (Sándor Pintér) and the Ministry of Justice (László Trócsányi). The Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Defense remained structurally unchanged, but new ministers (István Nagy and Tibor Benkő) have been appointed. The Ministry of Finance has been (re-)established as a central unity combining two former Ministries under the leadership of Mihály Varga. The Ministry of Human Capacities (EMMI) remains a superministry, both in terms of personal capacity and policy areas covered. It stretches over central policies such as health, education and culture. However, the ministry has lost competencies to the new Ministry of Innovation and Technology (ITM)(László Palkovics) and a new minister has been appointed (Miklós Kásler). The new minister without portfolio, Andrea Bártfai-Mager – the one and only woman in the government – is responsible for state property and state-owned enterprises. The other minister without portfolio is János Süli, responsible for the Paks-2 nuclear station. In addition, Zsolt Semjén – who represents the symbolic in nature Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) as an alleged coalition partner of Fidesz, but he is not running in the elections as a candidate does not figure in any public opinion survey – has stayed on as deputy prime minister responsible for the Hungarian Communities Abroad.
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