Sweden

   

Executive Capacity

#1
Key Findings
With multiple layers of effective coordination, Sweden is the SGI 2019’s top scorer (rank 1) in the area of executive capacity. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.1 point relative to its 2014 level.

Strategic capacity has been enhanced in recent years, with planning efforts focused in the Finance Ministry. Considerable energy has been spent improving interdepartmental coordination, in part by centralizing authority in the government office and Finance Ministry. Policy details are developed at the nonpartisan bureaucratic level. Informal coordination plays an important role.

While RIAs are not used systematically, environmental-sustainability reviews are mandatory. Ex post performance measurement is common. Though institutionalized societal consultation has diminished in past years, the government has closely consulted with unions in particular. Efforts to increase communication coherency have led to complaints of declining access to members of the government.

Closely monitored agencies, rather than ministries, implement policies, and even have a say in policy development. Central state control over local governments has increased in recent years. Regulatory agencies often use incentives rather than formal rules to elicit behavior, but there is no evidence of systemic bias. Local taxes are increasing in some metropolitan areas to address refugee-related costs.

Strategic Capacity

#2

How much influence do strategic planning units and bodies have on government decision-making?

10
 9

Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions, and they exercise strong influence on government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Their influence on government decision-making is systematic but limited in issue scope or depth of impact.
 5
 4
 3


Strategic planning units and bodies take a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions. Occasionally, they exert some influence on government decision-making.
 2
 1

In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
Strategic Planning
8
The strategic capacity of government has been enhanced over the past few years. Much of that capacity is found in the finance ministry where most of the long-term planning takes place. The main role of the Prime Minister’s Office is not so much long-term planning but more coordination within government.

A case in the point is the so-called future commission which presented its final report in early 2013. In the final report, the commission assesses the economic and social changes that are likely to shape Swedish society in the longer term. Exactly how the commission’s findings will flow into the policy process is yet to be seen. The commission was not an institutionalized feature of the normal policy process but rather a group of experts the government appointed to examine long-term issues. The creation of the commission does signal that the government is thinking in the longer term, and other commissions have since been appointed to take a similar long view on various issues on the policy agenda.

In addition to these planning efforts in the government departments, the agencies are also engaged in planning. They are not operating in close proximity to the departments, however. The exception to this pattern is when a department asks one of its agencies to look into a particular issue and to prepare advice on policy-initiatives.

The center-right government (2006 – 2014) invested considerable energy to increase coordination among government departments and improve steering of the executive agencies.

Historically, policy planning has been achieved to a large extent by the use of royal commissions. Most of these commissions were composed of elected officials and stakeholders. During the past decade or so, the quality of these commissions – particularly with regard to the quality of the studies they deliver and their capacity to generate consensus among major political actors and stakeholders as to policy goals and means – has deteriorated. Many commissions today have very few members and are often dominated by civil servants. This has had a negative impact on those commissions’ final reports and the quality of the advice they produce as well as the political role of commissions as a forum in the policy process where compromises among the political parties can be negotiated.

Citations:
Zetterberg, K. (2011), ”Det statliga kommittéväsendet: En del av den svenska modellen,” Svensk Juristtidning 8:753-763.

Svenska framtidsutmaningar. Slutrapport från regeringens framtidskommission (2013) (Stockholm: Statsrådsberedningen) (http://www.regeringen.se/content/1/c6/21/33/06/9cde7be8.pdf)

Garsten, C., B. Rothstein and S. Svallfors (2015), Makt utan mandat: de policyprofessionella i svensk politik (Stockholm: Dialogos).

Does the government regularly take into account advice from non-governmental experts during decision-making?

10
 9

In almost all cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 8
 7
 6


For major political projects, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government transparently consults with non-governmental experts in the early stages of government decision-making.
 2
 1

The government does not consult with non-governmental experts, or existing consultations lack transparency entirely and/or are exclusively pro forma.
Expert Advice
8
The government’s search for scholarly advice is today less institutionalized than it was 25 or 30 years ago when royal commissions would almost always include experts and scholars. With the decline in the royal commission institution (most commissions today are one-man task forces given 18 or 24 months to look into an issue and produce a final report), the government now seeks scholarly advice on a more ad hoc basis.

There are some positive signs, however. The 2006 to 2014 government increased the number of boards or advisory groups where scholars (often, but not always, bona fide sympathizers of the ruling parties) could offer input and advice. There is a similar pattern among agencies that set up scientific councils to provide advice. There also appears to be a trend among agencies to organize hearings and public debates to bring in a variety of views on current issues. This can be seen not least in the context of administrative reform where commissions and agencies like the Swedish Public Management Agency frequently organize these kinds of meetings.

Overall, the government department staff solicits advice or other contacts with external actors less frequently than in the past. Communication is today managed in detail and there are disincentives to open up to external actors at sensitive stages of the policy process. The extent to which the government remains open to scholarly advice depends much on how politically salient the issue is. When policymakers seek scholarly advice, it is in most cases ad hoc and selective.

A recent study by Garsten, Rothstein, and Svallfors argues that “policy professionals” – networks of non-elected but highly influential policy experts – have significant influence on policymaking and policy design.

Citations:
Garsten, C., B. Rothstein and S. Svallfors (2015), Makt utan mandat: de policyprofessionella i svensk politik (Stockholm: Dialogos).

Interministerial Coordination

#25

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

10
 9

The GO / PMO provides regular, independent evaluations of draft bills for the cabinet / prime minister. These assessments are guided exclusively by the government’s priorities.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO evaluates most draft bills according to the government’s priorities.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO can rely on some sectoral policy expertise but does not evaluate draft bills.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not have any sectoral policy expertise. Its role is limited to collecting, registering and circulating documents submitted for cabinet meetings.
GO Expertise
8
Interministerial coordination has been a significant problem in the Swedish system of government for a long time but has now been addressed in a comprehensive strategy. The previous government (2006 – 2014) implemented a major program (“RK Styr”) in order to strengthen the coordination among departments. This goal was believed to be a necessary step to increase the capability of the GO to steer the agencies more effectively.

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

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

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

The PMO rarely coordinates policy content, which generally takes place during the process of deliberation or drafting of bills.

Citations:
Dahlström, C., B. G. Peters and J. Pierre (eds) (2011), Steering from the Center (Toronto: University of Toronto Press).

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

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

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

Premfors, R. and G. Sundström (2007), Regeringskansliet (Malmö: Liber).

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

10
 9

There are inter-related capacities for coordination between GO/PMO and line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
 5
 4
 3


Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
 2
 1

Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
Line Ministries
7
The leadership of the GO and the PMO are primarily involved when policies are initiated, when final decisions are to be made, and if a disagreement emerges among the governing parties or ministers. However, the line nature of the GO – and the chain of command between the political and administrative levels – means that the top leadership, apart from initiating and deciding on policy, does not routinely monitor its development. There are instead regular briefings and informal consultations. This informal coordination procedure nevertheless ensures that the PMO, in line with the finance ministry, play a crucial role in policy developments. Also, there are established but informal rules regulating procedures when there is disagreement among the non-political advisers on how to design policy. Essentially, the political level of the department should only be consulted when its ruling is critical to policy formulation; otherwise policy design should rest with non-partisan members of staff.

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

It should also be noted that line ministries frequently ask for advice from the executive agencies during the early stages of the policy process.

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

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

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

Premfors, R. and G. Sundström (2007), Regeringskansliet (Malmö: Liber).

How effectively do ministerial or cabinet committees coordinate cabinet proposals?

10
 9

The vast majority of cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated first by committees.
 8
 7
 6


Most cabinet proposals are reviewed and coordinated by committees, in particular proposals of political or strategic importance.
 5
 4
 3


There is little review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees.
 2
 1

There is no review or coordination of cabinet proposals by committees. Or: There is no ministerial or cabinet committee.
Cabinet Committees
1
There are no standing cabinet committees in the Swedish system of government. Cabinet proposals are coordinated through iterations of sending drafts of bills to the concerned departments. This usually takes place at the middle level of the departments and thus does not involve the political level of the departments.

The cabinet is both a policy-shaping institution as well as the final institution of appeal on a wide range of issues. There is also a requirement that the cabinet must be the formal decision-maker on many issues. This means that the cabinet annually makes more than 100,000 decisions (mostly in bulk).

How effectively do ministry officials/civil servants coordinate policy proposals?

10
 9

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 8
 7
 6


Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
 5
 4
 3


There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
 2
 1

There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
Ministerial Bureaucracy
7
Most of the daily coordination on policy matters does not involve the political level of the departments but is instead handled at the administrative level. However, as soon as coordination takes place on a political dimension, it is “lifted” to the political level.

Coordination within the GO remains a significant problem, although some measures have been implemented to address that problem. Many departments still find it difficult to coordinate policy across departmental boundaries. Departments that were formed through mergers of departments tend to display “subcultures” of the former departments.

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

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

How effectively do informal coordination mechanisms complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination?

10
 9

Informal coordination mechanisms generally support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


In most cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, informal coordination mechanisms support formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

Informal coordination mechanisms tend to undermine rather than complement formal mechanisms of interministerial coordination.
Informal Coordination
8
Informal mechanisms of coordination among civil servants and higher-ranking politicians alike are common and important in the Swedish system, although they may not always be effective. And yet, informal contacts between departments and agencies are believed to be integral to the efficiency of the politico-administrative system. Informal coordination procedures effectively filter many, but not all, policy proposals.

Citations:
de Fine Licht, J. and J. Pierre (2017), Myndighetschefernas syn på regeringens styrning (Stockholm: Statskontoret).

How extensively and effectively are digital technologies used to support interministerial coordination (in policy development and monitoring)?

10
 9

The government uses digital technologies extensively and effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 8
 7
 6


The government uses digital technologies in most cases and somewhat effectively to support interministerial coordination.
 5
 4
 3


The government uses digital technologies to a lesser degree and with limited effects to support interministerial coordination.
 2
 1

The government makes no substantial use of digital technologies to support interministerial coordination.
Digitalization for Interministerial C.
6
The digitalization of the Swedish public sector has come a rather long way. One exceptional example is the budget process (one of the key mechanisms to support coordination among government departments), where documents are digitally shared and simultaneously developed among various departments. The government also uses digital services to coordinate interdepartmental responses to communications from the EU. Overall, however, digitalization is mainly used to support intraorganizational processes such as drafting documents and only to a lesser extent to support interdepartmental coordination.

The Swedish government now communicates all new legislation and regulations (SFS) digitally, with digital versions given legal precedence over printed versions as they are the most current versions of legislation.

Digitalization has been implemented more extensively at the agency level. For instance, there is now a joint service center (SSC) that manages back-office functions for a growing number of agencies. Also, statistical material and maps are shared digitally among agencies.

Evidence-based Instruments

#9

To what extent does the government assess the potential impacts of existing and prepared legal acts (regulatory impact assessments, RIA)?

10
 9

RIA are applied to all new regulations and to existing regulations which are characterized by complex impact paths. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 8
 7
 6


RIA are applied systematically to most new regulations. RIA methodology is guided by common minimum standards.
 5
 4
 3


RIA are applied in some cases. There is no common RIA methodology guaranteeing common minimum standards.
 2
 1

RIA are not applied or do not exist.
RIA Application
7
The purpose of regulatory impact analysis (RIA) is to assess the degree to which regulation has negative and/or unintended consequences for the targets of regulation. More broadly, RIA is nowadays used to avoid increasing regulatory burdens on private businesses. RIAs are also used to examine which regulatory framework could be simplified or abolished.

Sweden, according to an evaluation, has had “rather modest” results from RIAs. Simplifying rules pertaining to private businesses has been an important part of economic development policy over the past several years, but RIAs as a specific model of analysis do not seem to be used systematically and over a broad range of issues.

Citations:
Erlandsson, M. (2010), Regelförenkling genom konsekvensutredningar (Stockholm: Sieps).

http://www.regelradet.se/in-english/about/

Does the RIA process ensure participation, transparency and quality evaluation?

10
 9

RIA analyses consistently involve stakeholders by means of consultation or collaboration, results are transparently communicated to the public and assessments are effectively evaluated by an independent body on a regular basis.
 8
 7
 6


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to one of the three objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The RIA process displays deficiencies with regard to two of the three objectives.
 2
 1

RIA analyses do not exist or the RIA process fails to achieve any of the three objectives of process quality.
Quality of RIA Process
7
As mentioned, RIAs play some role in Sweden but the system is less elaborate compared to many other countries. The Swedish model of RIA seems to perform reasonably well with regard to participation and communication but less so in terms of independent evaluations.

Overall, simplifying regulatory frameworks appears to be conducted fairly ad hoc. For instance, the Simplex project in the Department of Industry and Economic Development aimed at removing regulations that were either obsolete or unnecessarily obstructing private businesses. The project appears to have practiced RIA without applying the entire RIA framework.

The increasing number of inspections agencies created specifically to review and evaluate the performance of other agencies in areas such as health care and social insurance is likely to strengthen quality evaluation and transparency.

Does the government conduct effective sustainability checks within the framework of RIA?

10
 9

Sustainability checks are an integral part of every RIA; they draw on an exhaustive set of indicators (including social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability) and track impacts from the short- to long-term.
 8
 7
 6


Sustainability checks lack one of the three criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Sustainability checks lack two of the three criteria.
 2
 1

Sustainability checks do not exist or lack all three criteria.
Sustainability Check
7
Environmental sustainability is one of several mainstreamed goals in the policy process. In theory at least, all government bills, procurements and directives to royal commissions are supposed to be assessed to determine their impact on environmental sustainability. As for other types of sustainability criteria, there is little evidence available about the degree to which they are considered in the RIA process.

To what extent do government ministries regularly evaluate the effectiveness and/or efficiency of public policies and use results of evaluations for the revision of existing policies or development of new policies?

10
 9

Ex post evaluations are carried out for all significant policies and are generally used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 8
 7
 6


Ex post evaluations are carried out for most significant policies and are used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 5
 4
 3


Ex post evaluations are rarely carried out for significant policies and are rarely used for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
 2
 1

Ex post evaluations are generally not carried out and do not play any relevant role for the revision of existing policies or the development of new policies.
Quality of Ex Post Evaluation
8
Ex-post evaluations take various forms in the Swedish system. For the past 10 to 15 years, performance measurement and management has been an integral part of public management in Sweden, as in most other countries. Also, audits conducted by the Swedish supreme audit institution (Riksrevisionen) are important evaluation instruments. There is, however, a tendency to focus more on institutions and cost efficiency (the audit approach) than on programs and impact (the evaluation approach). That said, both approaches are useful as feedback on public policy.

Citations:
Pierre, J., B. G. Peters and J. de Fine Licht (2018), “Is auditing the new evaluation? Can it be? Should it be?,” (tillsammans med B. Guy Peters och Jenny de Fine Licht), International Journal of Public Sector Management 31:726-39.

Societal Consultation

#4

Does the government consult with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner?

10
 9

The government always consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 8
 7
 6


The government in most cases consults with societal actors in a fair and pluralistic manner.
 5
 4
 3


The government does consult with societal actors, but mostly in an unfair and clientelistic manner.
 2
 1

The government rarely consults with any societal actors.
Public Consultation
8
Consultation with societal actors has historically been of a defining feature of Swedish (and Scandinavian) neo-corporatist governance, and such arrangements are still in place to a large extent. In this corporatist arrangement, government consults with key societal partners on a wide range of issues. Stakeholders are thus given an opportunity to influence public policy from the early stages of the policy process until implementation.

The more specific nature of the relationship between the state and societal actors is changing, however. Previously, these contacts were institutionalized with all major players invited to provide input on almost all major policy issues. Today, these consultations are more ad hoc and strategic. The current red-green government appears to have a more continuous dialog with organized interests, primarily the unions, than the earlier “Alliance” government. Even so, Swedish corporatism is weaker today than it was in the 1970s and 1980s. The previously mentioned decline of the royal commissions is one important example of the reduction of societal consultation in Sweden under the period of review. Overall, most observers today agree that corporatism as a model of governance has been significantly weakened in Sweden.

However, there have also been some tendencies toward increasing societal consultation. The increasing significance of so-called new modes of governance – networks, markets, partnerships and so on – has opened up new arenas for exchanges and communication between government institutions and organized interests. Also, studies show that societal actors now target specific institutions rather than engaging the state as a whole. Unions, for example, still target public institutions that draft policy, whereas business organizations are more active vis-à-vis executive agencies.

Citations:
Pierre, J. (ed) (2015), Oxford Handbook of Swedish Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press), esp. Section 10.

Pierre, J. and B. G. Peters (2005), Governing Complex Societies (Basingstoke: Palgrave).

Svensson, T. and P-O.Öberg (2010),“Does Power Drive out Trust? Relations between Labor Market Actors in Sweden,” Political Studies 58:143-166.

Policy Communication

#1

To what extent does the government achieve coherent communication?

10
 9

Ministries are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 8
 7
 6


Ministries most of the time are highly successful in aligning their communication with government strategy.
 5
 4
 3


Ministries occasionally issue public statements that contradict the public communication of other ministries or the government strategy.
 2
 1

Strategic communication planning does not exist; individual ministry statements regularly contradict each other. Messages are often not factually consistent with the government’s strategy.
Coherent Communication
9
Improved communications dovetails with increasing coordination among the government departments. During the past couple of years, the government has developed and implemented a more coherent communications strategy. The flow of communication from government departments and the PMO is now carefully controlled such that only a very limited number of officials are authorized to engage the media or other actors outside the core of government.

This strategy is very similar to the communications strategies today used in countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom. It implies that cabinet ministers carefully assess invitations from radio and television and, perhaps surprisingly, frequently decline those invitations if they cannot control the format or if they are to debate with representatives from the opposition.

This strategy has been rather successful; indeed, in some ways it may even have been too successful. Scholars and the media are increasingly objecting to problems in accessing ministers and other representatives of the governing parties. There is also increasing frustration with the GO’s tendency to be slow in providing the media with public documents. Even among several agencies there is now frustration about the decreasing access to government departments and government information.

Citations:
Dahlström, C. J. Pierre and B. G. Peters (eds) (2011), Steering from the Center (Toronto: University of Toronto Press).

Erlandsson, M. (2008), ”Regeringskansliet och medierna. Den politiska exekutivens resurser och strategier för att hantera och styra massmedier,” Statsvetenskaplig tidskrift 110: 335-49.

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

Implementation

#1

To what extent can the government achieve its own policy objectives?

10
 9

The government can largely implement its own policy objectives.
 8
 7
 6


The government is partly successful in implementing its policy objectives or can implement some of its policy objectives.
 5
 4
 3


The government partly fails to implement its objectives or fails to implement several policy objectives.
 2
 1

The government largely fails to implement its policy objectives.
Government Effectiveness
9
The implementation capacity of the Swedish government is strong. The circa 340 executive agencies are the key actors in the implementation of policy. Over the past few years, the departments have increased the steering of their agencies. Also, performance measurement and management have become increasingly important in monitoring the agencies and the implementation process.

Yet like the challenge of efficient policy coordination, policy implementation is also a challenge under the restrictions of new governance forms. The relationship between the government and the agencies no longer follows a strict command and control pattern; rather, it is a more interactive form of governance where departments utilize the expertise in the agencies during the early stages of the policy process. This pattern is largely due to the fact that policy expertise is located not just in the departments but also in the agencies.

The total number of staff in the departments is about 4,600, whereas the number of staff at the agency level is about 225,000. To a large extent, and with considerable variation among policy sectors and even specific issues, agencies provide informal advice to government on policy design. In some cases, there is a weekly dialog between departments and agencies, not just on what departments want agencies to do, but also on matters of policy design. This means effectively that agencies are involved in shaping the policies they will later implement. This arrangement obviously increases the agencies’ commitment to a policy, but at the same time it complicates the implementation process.

The main challenge in implementing government policies is not institutional but rather political. The previous red-green government did not control a majority of seats in the parliament. As a consequence, policy proposals had to be negotiated with the opposition parties. If all opposition parties united against the government, the government’s proposals were defeated. The complexity of this parliamentary situation significantly complicated the policy process. This complexity continues since the 2018 elections, where the chances for a stable majority government appear very slim.

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

Premfors, R. and G. Sundström (2007), Regeringskansliet (Malmö: Liber).

To what extent does the organization of government provide mechanisms to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

10
 9

The organization of government successfully provides strong mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 8
 7
 6


The organization of government provides some mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 5
 4
 3


The organization of government provides weak mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
 2
 1

The organization of government does not provide any mechanisms for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Ministerial Compliance
10
In Sweden, ministers and departments do not implement policy. The task is handled by the executive agencies. A major concern in Sweden is the degree to which ministers can, and should, steer the agencies. Swedish agencies are highly autonomous, but departments can formally steer them by appointing the Director General of the agency, deciding on the regulatory and institutional framework of the agency, and allocating financial resources to specific tasks and programs.

In Sweden, as in many other countries, the relationship between departments and agencies, and the willingness of the latter to implement policies defined by the former, can hinder or enable implementation. In Sweden, the relationship between departments and agencies is an institutional relation, not a personal relation between a minister and the director of an agency. Thus, to the extent that it is meaningful to talk about incentives, they must be organizational incentives. Furthermore, implementing policy is a core role for the agencies, so incentives are hardly necessary.

Citations:
Premfors, R. and G. Sundström (2007), Regeringskansliet (Malmö: Liber).

Jacobsson, B., J. Pierre and G. Sundström (2015), Governing the Embedded State: The Organizational Dimension of Governance (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

How effectively does the government office/prime minister’s office monitor line ministry activities with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The GO / PMO effectively monitors the implementation activities of all line ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of most line ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The GO / PMO monitors the implementation activities of some line ministries.
 2
 1

The GO / PMO does not monitor the implementation activities of line ministries.
Monitoring Ministries
9
Formally, ministries are not very involved in the implementation of policies. It is rather the task of agencies to implement policies. Nevertheless, Swedish ministries still control the implementation process of the agencies. The relationship between ministries and agencies implies monitoring by communication and mutual adaptation, less than through a hierarchical chain of command.

How effectively do federal and subnational ministries monitor the activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The ministries effectively monitor the implementation activities of all bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 8
 7
 6


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of most bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 5
 4
 3


The ministries monitor the implementation activities of some bureaucracies/executive agencies.
 2
 1

The ministries do not monitor the implementation activities of bureaucracies/executive agencies.
Monitoring Agencies|Bureaucracies
9
Government departments in the GO monitor the activities (not just implementation) of the agencies quite closely. Since the introduction of performance management some 15 to 20 years ago, agencies report to their parent department on their performance targets. In fact, many criticize this reporting, which requires agencies to devote much time and effort reporting on their performance to their respective department, because it is so extensive that it has become burdensome. Recently, there has been a tendency to reduce the number of objectives and performance indicators on which the agencies are to report. This tendency is likely to continue over the next several years.

It should be noted that there is a significant imbalance between the departments and the agencies. The GO has a total staff of about 4,600. The total staff in the agencies is about 220,000. Thus, the steering structures in the system are considerably smaller than the targets of that steering. This state of affairs has encouraged the use of informal communication between departments and agencies to supplement formal steering.

Citations:
Jacobsson, B., J. Pierre and G. Sundström (2015), Governing the Embedded State: The Organizational Dimension of Governance (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Pierre, J. and J. de Fine Licht (2017), Myndighetschefernas syn på regeringens styrning (Stockholm: Statskontoret).

To what extent does the central government ensure that tasks delegated to subnational self-governments are adequately funded?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to fulfill all their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 8
 7
 6


The central government enables subnational governments to fulfill most of their delegated tasks by funding these tasks sufficiently and/or by providing adequate revenue-raising powers.
 5
 4
 3


The central government sometimes and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational governments.
 2
 1

The central government often and deliberately shifts unfunded mandates to subnational self-governments.
Task Funding
5
Unfunded, or insufficiently funded, mandates have been a long-standing issue in Sweden; indeed recent studies show an almost complete unanimity among local governments with regard to their frustration of insufficiently funded mandates. Subnational governments enjoy extensive autonomy in relation to the central government in Sweden. Local governments and their national association, Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), have insisted that all tasks placed upon them by central government must be fully funded.

SALAR has made this claim an overarching principle, which it now emphasizes every time the central government delegates tasks to local authorities. Instead of fully funded mandates, though, the central government frequently negotiates the funding aspect of delegated tasks with the local governments and SALAR.

As a reaction to the large number of asylum-seekers in 2015 and 2016, the former red-green government (2014 – 2018) to a great extent funded the additional work required of local authorities. However, this additional funding does not change the fact that in more routine exchanges between the central government and local government, funded mandates remain usually insufficient. In 2017, much of the central government’s support to local authorities to assist their work with asylum-seekers was terminated; it is now up to local authorities to fund these activities. This may gradually increase local taxes, as we already see occurring in metropolitan areas.

Citations:
Pierre, J. (2014), Globalization and Governance (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar).

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments may use their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation?

10
 9

The central government enables subnational self-governments to make full use of their constitutional scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 8
 7
 6


Central government policies inadvertently limit the subnational self-governments’ scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 5
 4
 3


The central government formally respects the constitutional autonomy of subnational self-governments, but de facto narrows their scope of discretion with regard to implementation.
 2
 1

The central government deliberately precludes subnational self-governments from making use of their constitutionally provided implementation autonomy.
Constitutional Discretion
9
Although unfunded mandates have been much debated, central government overwhelmingly respects local autonomy. Local government enjoys extensive autonomy, which is guaranteed by the constitution. Indeed, the strength of local autonomy adds to the fragmented nature of the Swedish political system and sometimes creates problems in governance and coordination. In terms of crisis, extraordinary challenges or when there are major national interests at stake, however, government can increase its pressure on local government, despite the latter’s formal autonomy. In these cases, the usual procedure is first to negotiate with the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and the Regions (SALAR) and, if that proves unsuccessful, introduce stronger regulatory measures. For instance, in 2015, to what extent the central government should force all local authorities to receive asylum-seekers was thoroughly debated.

Pre-policy studies conducted in 2016 and 2017 show that state control over autonomous local governments has increased gradually during the past several years. Such control reaches not across the board but is generally targeted at specific issues and programs such as education. The former government (2014 – 2018) and its key advisory agencies have had a royal commission and the Public Management Agency review intergovernmental relations in preparation for a reform proposal. With the expected change in the composition of government following the 2018 election, this reform appears to be on hold.

To what extent does central government ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services?

10
 9

Central government effectively ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 8
 7
 6


Central government largely ensures that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
 5
 4
 3


Central government ensures that subnational self-governments realize national minimum standards of public services.
 2
 1

Central government does not ensure that subnational self-governments realize national standards of public services.
National Standards
6
Public services have been extensively decentralized over the past decades. Once services are transferred from central to local government, safeguarding national standards and even defining and sustaining those standards becomes problematic. The same problem applies to increasingly privatized services, where the oversight over national standards becomes even more challenging.

Decentralization and local autonomy are essentially institutional choices and, as all choices, these arrangements have their downsides. One of the problems with a decentralized system is that it becomes very difficult to enforce national standards. This became obvious to the government after the extensive decentralization reform during the 1980s and early 1990s. In primary and secondary education, the past two decades have witnessed central government trying to regain some control in order to ensure some degree of national standards. The main strategy toward this objective has been to extensively evaluate the performance of schools and publicize evaluation reports (i.e., to “name, blame and shame” underperforming schools). Thus, government exercises a strategy of steering by auditing. In addition, central government has tried to increase equality among local authorities by revising the general regulatory framework of primary and secondary education, and by targeting financial resources to improve the quality of teaching.

To what extent is government enforcing regulations in an effective and unbiased way, also against vested interests?

10
 9

Government agencies enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 8
 7
 6


Government agencies, for the most part, enforce regulations effectively and without bias.
 5
 4
 3


Government agencies enforce regulations, but ineffectively and with bias.
 2
 1

Government agencies enforce regulations ineffectively, inconsistently and with bias.
Regulatory Enforcement
9
Much of modern regulation is responsive regulation: it is designed and implemented through a dialog with the targets of the regulation rather than forcefully imposed. Often, regulatory agencies prefer to use incentives rather than formal rules to elicit the desired behavioral changes among the targets of the regulation. Given that changing behavior is the overarching objective, regulators may use a combination of rules, bargaining and incentives toward that objective. There is no evidence of a systematic bias in this respect among Swedish regulatory agencies.

Adaptability

#1

To what extent does the government respond to international and supranational developments by adapting domestic government structures?

10
 9

The government has appropriately and effectively adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 8
 7
 6


In many cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 5
 4
 3


In some cases, the government has adapted domestic government structures to international and supranational developments.
 2
 1

The government has not adapted domestic government structures, no matter how beneficial adaptation might be.
Domestic Adaptability
10
Following Sweden’s EU membership, which came into force in the mid-1990s, there has been a sustained effort to adapt government, policy and regulation to EU standards. The bulk of this adaptation relates to changes in domestic regulatory frameworks and policies, a development that does not impact the structure of government.

Estimates suggest that some 75% of the regulations that pertain to Sweden are today EU rules, not domestic rules. This pattern is probably typical for all EU member states. However, Sweden is today among the forerunners in the EU with respect to its adoption of EU directives and decisions. Most of the adaptation has taken place not at the policy level, but on the administrative level (e.g., by integrating domestic regulatory agencies with EU agencies).

Citations:
Jacobsson B. and G. Sundström (2006), Från hemvävd till invävd: Europeiseringen av svensk förvaltning och politik (Malmö: Liber).

Zannakis, M. (2010), Climate Policy as a Window of Opportunity: Sweden and Global Climate Change (Gothenburg: Department of Political Science).

To what extent is the government able to collaborate effectively with international efforts to foster global public goods?

10
 9

The government can take a leading role in shaping and implementing collective efforts to provide global public goods. It is able to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
 8
 7
 6


The government is largely able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Existing processes enabling the government to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress are, for the most part, effective.
 5
 4
 3


The government is partially able to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. Processes designed to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress show deficiencies.
 2
 1

The government does not have sufficient institutional capacities to shape and implement collective efforts to provide global public goods. It does not have effective processes to ensure coherence in national policies affecting progress.
International Coordination
9
Sweden has maintained a rather high international profile on a number of issues requiring international collective action. These issues have traditionally included disarmament, human rights, international solidarity and more recently, climate change and a feminist approach to international relations and peacekeeping.

Sweden tends to look at itself as an international broker and coordinator, though it may exaggerate its capacity in this regard. Certainly, Sweden, together with several other smaller nations, exerts some degree of international influence through “soft power.”

Citations:
Aggestam, K. and A. Towns (2018), “The Gender Turn in Diplomacy: A new research agenda,” International Feminist Journal of Politics (DOI: 10.1080/14616742.2018.1483206).

Ingebritsen, C. (2006). Scandinavia in World Politics (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield).

Pierre, J. (ed) (2015) Oxford Handbook of Swedish Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Organizational Reform

#1

To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

10
 9

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
 5
 4
 3


The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
 2
 1

There is no monitoring.
Self-monitoring
9
Institutional arrangements of governing obviously cover a wide array of arrangements. As indicated earlier, it is astounding in many ways to think that Sweden has transformed politically from a pre-democratic system to a democratic state, embedded in an international union such as the EU, with only a minimum amount of institutional and constitutional reform. Such a transformation testifies to the capacity of institutions to accommodate change. Given their institutional capacity to adapt to external change, institutional arrangements as such are rarely assessed.

The cabinet and government departments were reformed (i.e., merged and/or abolished) during the 1980s and 1990s, but today most observers seem to agree that this type of reform rarely solves any problems. Instead, the main institutional monitoring and reform takes place at the agency level where the number of agencies has decreased by about 25% over the past five to six years. While some agencies have been abolished, the bulk of reduction has come from mergers. There are about 340 agencies in the Swedish administrative system. This reduction in the number of agencies says very little about the extent of regulation; in some ways it is a numbers game aiming to communicate the image to the voters that the government is cutting back in central bureaucracy. That having been said, there is more or less continuous assessment of the agency system and the performance of agencies in service delivery and policy implementation.

Agencies are monitored fairly closely, so much so that a couple of recent royal commissions have recommended that agencies should not have to provide data on their performance with the same frequency as they do today and that the system should allow for more variation among agencies in this respect. The red-green government that came into power in 2014 has launched a process of reducing the number of performance indicators that agencies are requested to provide data on. These efforts are part of a larger project to replace New Public Management models of public sector management with a more trust-based model of management. Several reforms of this kind were developed in 2016 and 2017 and scheduled to be implemented in 2018 and 2019. Given the prospect of a change in government after the 2018 elections, this reform is now pending.

Citations:
SOU 2007:75 Att styra staten – regeringens styrning av sin förvaltning.
SOU 2008:118 Styra och ställa – förslag till en effektivare statsförvaltning

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

10
 9

The government improves its strategic capacity considerably by changing its institutional arrangements.
 8
 7
 6


The government improves its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 5
 4
 3


The government does not improve its strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
 2
 1

The government loses strategic capacity by changing its institutional arrangements.
Institutional Reform
9
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.
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