Finland

   

Executive Capacity

#2
Key Findings
With its broadly evidence-based system, Finland falls into the top ranks internationally (rank 2) with regard to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.2 points relative to 2014.

Strategic planning is deeply integrated into policymaking. Evidence-based planning is enhanced using trial projects, as in the case of the basic-income experiment (which was deemed unsuccessful). The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has broad policy-review capabilities, and works closely with ministries. Decision-making is collective and consensual, with interministerial coordination strong at all levels.

RIA use is systematic, though there is no such strategy for ex post evaluation. Interest organizations are regularly involved in the legislative process, with the new government seeking to revitalize tripartite consultation. Vested interests do not generally receive preferential treatment in regulatory enforcement proceedings.

Internal disagreements have been publicly evident in the new, ideologically broad government. The previous government resigned due to its failure to implement an ambitious healthcare reform. The new government has launched a joint communications model for its main reform projects, with strategic ministerial working groups guiding government program items within specific policy areas.

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
9
Strategic planning has considerable influence on government decision-making. The strategic goals contained in the government program are recorded in specific government-strategy documents. These strategy documents cover a one-year period and include a plan for pursuing priority goals, a notice of intent for upcoming key decisions and indicators for evaluating government performance. The implementation of the government program is assessed by a report halfway through the cabinet’s tenure, which defines how strategic goals should be attained through the rest of the cabinet’s time in office. The Prime Minister’s Office assists the prime minister and the government in their work and is responsible for the planning of social policy legislation that does not fall within the competence of any other ministry. The government often launches policy programs to ensure its key objectives are met. Meanwhile, the preparation and monitoring of programs is delegated to ministerial groups. In addition, the Committee for the Future deals with future-related matters. As a former entrepreneur, former Prime Minister Juha Sipilä gave the government program an even more strategic turn. For some of its policy objectives, the government utilized trial projects to assess reform impacts. The basic-income trial project, which was run with 2,000 participants nationwide in 2017 and 2018, was an example of this kind of new strategic evidence-based planning. The results of the experiment indicated that although basic income had a positive effect on health and stress, it did not enhance the likelihood of employment. The government consequently decided not to continue the basic-income experiment.

Citations:
Kangas, Olli, Signe Jauhiainen, Miska Simanainen, Minna Ylikännö (eds.). The Basic Income Experiment in Finland 2017-2018. Preliminary Results. Reports and Memorandums of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 2019:9

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
7
The government predominately organizes the collection of scholarly advice informally, for example, by consulting scientific experts on committee report drafts. Some formal bodies, such as temporary working groups, ad hoc committees and permanent councils, also exist. In general, various permanent and non-permanent committees play an important role in structuring scholarly advice in government decision-making. An example of a permanent group that advises the government and ministries in research and technology matters is the Research and Innovation Council. A government resolution on a comprehensive reform of state research institutes and research funding, which aims to make the use of sectoral research in governmental decision-making more efficient and focused, was adopted in 2013, and implemented between 2014 and 2017. The Prime Minister’s Office makes a yearly plan for realizing strategic research objectives and calls for the systemic use of research projects and data for decision-making, steering and operating procedures. Projects under the government’s strategic research goals are managed by the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland.

Interministerial Coordination

#1

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
9
As a ministry in itself, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has the capacity to evaluate proposed policy. The primary function of the PMO is to support the duties of the prime minister, who directs the work of government and coordinates the preparation and consideration of government business. The PMO monitors the implementation of the government program and coordinates Finland’s EU policy. In addition, the PMO is tasked with coordinating communications between the government and various ministries, planning future-oriented social policies, and promoting cooperation between the government and the various branches of public administration. The PMO has six departments: the Government EU Affairs Department, the Government Administration Department, the Ownership Steering Department, the Government Communications Department, the Government Strategy Department and the Government Session Unit. The PMO has a state secretary, a permanent state undersecretary and some 550 employees distributed across several task-specific units.

Citations:
http://vnk.fi/en/frontpage

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
9
The guiding rule in Finland is that each ministry is, within its mandate, responsible for the preparation of issues that fall within the scope of government and also for the proper functioning of the administration. Given this framework, rather than line ministries involving the Prime Minister’s Office in policy preparation, the expectation is that the Prime Minister’s Office involves ministries in its own policy preparations. In practice, of course, the patterns of interaction are not fixed. For one thing, policy programs and other intersectoral subject matters in the cabinet program are a concern for the Prime Minister’s Office as well as for the ministries, and efforts must be coordinated. The government’s analysis, assessment and research activities that support policymaking across the ministries are coordinated by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). In addition, because decision-making is collective and consensual in nature, ministry attempts to place items on the cabinet’s agenda without involving the Prime Minister’s Office will fail. Finland has a recent tradition of fairly broad-based coalition governments, although the Sipilä government was an exception, as its majority in parliament had shrunk to 52.5% by the end of its term. The Rinne government enjoyed the support of 58% of parliamentarians when it came into office. The tradition of broad-based coalition necessarily amalgamates ideological antagonisms, and thereby mitigates against fragmentation along ministerial and sectoral lines.

Citations:
Jaakko Nousiainen, “Politiikan huipulla. Ministerit ja ministeriöt Suomen parlamentaarisessa järjestelmässä,” Porvoo: Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö, 1992, p. 163.

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
10
Cabinet committees effectively prepare cabinet meetings. The government has four statutory ministerial committees: the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy (which meets with the president when pressing issues arise), the Ministerial Committee on European Union Affairs, the Ministerial Finance Committee and the Ministerial Committee on Economic Policy. Additionally, ad hoc ministerial committees can be appointed by the government plenary session. All these committees are chaired by the prime minister, who also chairs sessions of the Economic Council, the Research and Innovation Council, and the Title Board. In addition, there are several ministerial working groups. The primary task of these committees and groups is to prepare cabinet meetings by helping to create consensus between relevant ministries and interests. In all, a large majority of issues are reviewed first by cabinet committees and working groups.

Citations:
https://valtioneuvosto.fi/en/government/ministerial-committees

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
10
Cabinet meetings are prepared by ministry officials and civil servants. Findings from a large-scale analysis several years ago into the internal politics and practices of the cabinet and ministries emphasized the existence of a cyclical culture of dependence between ministers and senior officials. One expression of this mutual dependence, according to the same analysis, was that ministers put greater trust in the advice of their subordinate civil servants than in the advice of ministerial colleagues. This pattern extends to all aspects of the cabinet’s agenda. At times, civil servants can exercise significant influence. The former state secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Raimo Sailas, was widely considered to be highly influential. With regard to policy programs and similar intersectoral issues, coordination between civil servants of separate ministries happens as a matter of course. In specific matters, coordination may even be dictated. For instance, statements from the Ministry of Finance on economic and financial matters must be obtained by other ministries. On the whole, given the decision-making culture, civil servants in different ministries are expected to engage in coordination. An unwritten code of behavior prescribes harmonious and smooth activity, and ministers or ministries are expected to subject projects that are burdensome or sensitive to a collective examination and analysis.

Citations:
Jaakko Nousiainen, “Politiikan huipulla. Ministerit ja ministeriöt Suomen parlamentaarisessa järjestelmässä.” Porvoo: Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö, 1992, p. 128; Eero Murto, Power Relationship Between Ministers and Civil Servants, pp. 189-208 in Lauri Karvonen, Heikki Paloheimo and Tapio Raunio, eds. The Changing Balance of Power in Finland, Stockholm: Santérus Förlag, 2016.

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
10
Intersectoral coordination has generally been perceived as an important issue in Finnish politics, but rather few institutional mechanisms have in fact been introduced. One of these is the Iltakoulu (evening session), an informal meeting between the ministers with the objective of discussing and preparing key matters to be handled in the government’s plenary session the following day. In addition, there are other informal government meetings and items can also be referred to informal ministerial working groups. To a considerable extent, then, coordination proceeds effectively through informal mechanisms. Recent large-scale policy programs have enhanced intersectoral policymaking; additionally, Finland’s membership in the European Union has of course necessitated increased interministerial coordination. Recent research in Finland has only focused tangentially on informal mechanisms, but various case studies suggest that the system of coordination by advisory councils has performed well.

Citations:
Eero Murto, Power Relationship Between Ministers and Civil Servants, pp. 189-208 in Lauri Karvonen, Heikki Paloheimo and Tapio Raunio, eds. The Changing Balance of Political Power in Finland, Stockholm: Santérus Förlag, 2016.
https://valtioneuvosto.fi/en/government/informal-government-meetings-and-ministerial-working-groups

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.
9
Finland is a global leader for information and communications technology, and the digitalization of public services was a key project in Sipilä’s government program. In line with this ambition, the government set out to digitalize internal administrative processes. The government administration department within the Prime Minister’s Office, which has a central role in interministerial coordination, has a special Information Management and ICT Division. The government plenary session adopted an electronic tool for session materials in 2015. Ministers follow the progress of decision-making at plenary sessions on tablet computers. Finland is ranked first overall in the European Union’s Digital Economy and Society Index (2019), and also holds the top place with regard to digital public services.

Citations:
“Programme of Prime Minister Sipilä’s Government,” https://valtioneuvosto.fi/en/sipila/government-programme
“Digital Economy and Society Index,” https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/desi

Evidence-based Instruments

#1

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
9
Systematic impact assessment is today a routine part of the Finnish legislative drafting process. Regulatory impact assessment activities have comprised, for instance, a series of evaluation reports by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that deal with principles of development policy, partner countries and geographic regions. Furthermore, assessments have investigated the activities of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and an international evaluation of the Finnish national innovation system, commissioned by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, has been performed. The general framework for regulatory impact assessments is grounded in a program-management system governing intersectoral policy programs. This framework was initiated in 2007 and is still valid as a guide to impact assessment. An independent Council of Regulatory Impact Analysis was established in December 2015 at the Prime Minister’s Office as part of the Sipilä government’s program. The Council is responsible for issuing statements on government proposals and on their regulatory impact assessments. In April 2019, the government appointed the second term of the Council (April 2019 to April 2022). The Council considered 30 draft government proposals in 2017, and 27 in 2018. The verdict has not been favorable as regards the overall quality of lawmaking, as the Council has found impact assessments to have been deficient in a significant proportion of proposals.

Citations:
“Impact Assessment in Legislative Drafting. Guidelines,” Ministry of Justice, Finland. Publication 2008:4;
Auri Pakarinen, Jyrki Tala and Laura Hämynen, “Regulatory Impact Assessment in the Finnish Government’s Proposals in 2009,” National Research Institute of Legal Policy, Research Communications no. 104;
“Better Regulation,” Helsinki, Ministry of Justice, 2014; http://oikeusministerio.fi/en/index/basicprovisions/legis;lation/parempisaantely.html
Prime Minister’s Office, Finland: “Finnish Council of Regulatory Impact Analysis,” http://vnk.fi/en/council-of-regulatory-impact-analysis.
“Finnish Council of Regulatory Impact Analysis Annual Review 2018,” http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-287-772-7”

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
8
Impact assessment guidelines adopted in 2007 still provide a general framework for the process of regulatory impact assessment. The Revision Bureau of the Ministry of Justice’s Law Drafting Department monitors compliance with these impact assessment guidelines. Impact assessments cover the economic, administrative, environmental and social impacts of proposed legislation. The guidelines describe what kind of impact may be involved, how the impact may be assessed, and what methods and information sources are available. The guidelines also specify the extent to which this information must be provided in the assessments. For instance, assessments may deal with proposals’ potential economic impact on households, businesses and public finances as well as overall economic impact. Concerning methodology, guidelines recommend the use of statistical data, questionnaire data, expert analyses and when necessary, qualitative methods. Generally speaking, the regulatory impact assessment process is well-structured and of a high quality. However, in its annual review for 2017 assessment, the Finnish Council of Regulatory Impact noted that although guidelines for drafting laws were available, the guidelines tended to be somewhat inconsistent and overlapping. In its corresponding report for 2018, the Council noted that the quality of impact assessments had improved, but also pointed out that more resources were needed in order to strengthen ministries’ expertise in drafting legislation.

Citations:
Ministry of Justice (2008): “Impact Assessment in Legislative Drafting – Guidelines.” Helsinki, Publication 2008:4.
http://oikeusministerio.fi/fi/index/toimintajatavoitteet/lakiensaataminen/parempisaantely/vaikutustenarviointi/saadosehdotustenvaikutustenarviointiohjeet.html.
http://vnk.fi/en/article/-/asset_publisher/arviointineuvosto-vaikutusten-arviointien-tasoa-on-parannettava
“Finnish Council of Regulatory Impact Analysis: Annual Review 2017.”, https://vnk.fi/documents/10616/7861578/Finnish+Council+of+Regulatory+Impact+Analysis+Annual+Review+207/
“Finnish Council of Regulatory Impact Analysis Annual Review 2018,” http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-287-772-7”

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
9
The Finnish government understands that regular and complete assessments of regulations are fundamental to the governing of complex and open societies and economies. In consequence, the country has a comprehensive regulatory impact assessment program in place. Also, Finland has formally adopted a regulatory impact assessment strategy that contains instructions to be carried out when drafting legislative proposals, complemented by separate instructions issued by ministries. Assessments involve the use of multiple indicator sets, various interests are consulted and different techniques used. Generally speaking, aspects of sustainability form an integral part of the assessment process. Variations between forecasts and actual outcomes are monitored over time.

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
9
Consultation with experts and stakeholders is a natural phase in the Finnish lawmaking process. In addition, the public is invited to comment on draft proposals online. Furthermore, all proposals for changing statutes must be accompanied by an assessment of their impact across several aspects of society (e.g., the economy and environment). However, the OECD has pointed out that although ex post evaluations are frequently carried out, Finland lacks a systematic strategy for the ex post evaluation of regulations.

Citations:
“Säädösehdotusten vaikutusten arvionti,” Oikeusministeriö, http://julkaisut.valtioneuvosto.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/76082/saadosehdotusten_vaikutusten_arviointi_ohjeet.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
OECD: “Better Regulation in Europe: Finland.” http://www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/45054846.htm.

OECD (2018), OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2018, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264303072-en.

Opinion service webpage: lausuntopalvelu.fi

Governments Registry for Projects and Initiatives (http://valtioneuvosto.fi/hankkeet).

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
In Finland’s consensus-oriented political system, interest organizations and associations are regularly consulted. Although the corporatist system adopted in the 1960s has now declined, the exchange of views and information with a variety of social interests is still part and parcel of the everyday activities of the Finnish government. Through various mechanisms such as committee hearings, joint-council memberships and expert testimony, bills and drafts are circulated to interested parties who are then invited to critique the draft legislation. Various laws and guidelines, such as the Act on the Openness of Government Activities, contain provisions on consultation and participation. By and large, the system functions reasonably well. Admittedly, consultation tends to favor organized groups and neglects outside participation. It is also the case that consultation is carried out mainly to build consensus rather than to gather support or assess impact. However, in the long run, this helps to generate public support for government policies. Recent developments have indicated a weakening in the role played by the tripartite negotiation of labor-market agreements between the government, employers’ associations and employee organizations. However, this trend may be reversed in the future, as the center-left government that took power in 2019 was committed to launching working-life reforms based on the tripartite principle.

Citations:
https://valtioneuvosto.fi/en/rinne/government-programme/finland-built-on-trust-and-labour-market-equality

Policy Communication

#3

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
8
Since the prime minister’s position is one of primus inter pares (first among equals), rather than one of absolute leadership, it is natural that the government’s policy positions are advanced through discussion and consultation rather than through directives and commands. Furthermore, as directives and commands would challenge the principle of freedom of speech, such communication would probably be regarded as illegitimate and foster opposition. In practice, therefore, contradictory statements are rare. However, the fact that Finland has a tradition of broad-based umbrella coalitions that accommodate diverse interests and ideological shadings serves to diversify communication. This was true of communications from the Sipilä government, which were notably vague and often undecided, reflecting tensions or even conflicts between the Finns Party and the other government parties. The first months of the Rinne government, which was ideologically broader than the Sipilä government, revealed internal disagreements between the coalition partners with respect to a number of policy areas. The existence of an agreed-upon and fairly detailed government plan in principle serves to streamline communications. However, the Sipilä government demonstrated that the plan can be interpreted in different ways by different parties, and the same conclusion seemed appropriate for the Rinne government.

Implementation

#4

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
7
Given that Finland has lately been governed by broad or fairly broad coalition governments, the constitutional and political conditions for a satisfactory implementation of government plans have been good. A February 2013 session reviewing the implementation record under former Prime Minister Katainen (2011 – 2014) concluded that approximately 80% of the measures outlined in the government program had at that point been undertaken successfully. However, according to the review, the largest and most difficult program issues remained unsolved. Following a cabinet reshuffle, the government program under Prime Minster Stubb (2014 – 2015) was submitted to parliament in June 2014 and was fairly well received. The present Sipilä government announced its program at the end of May 2015; in comparison with earlier programs, which resembled a telephone directory in size, the Sipilä program is much shorter and more strategic and focused. The program announced five strategic priorities that are manifested in 26 key projects, the primary goal being to bring the Finnish economy onto a path of sustainable growth.

On the whole, the Sipilä government achieved many of its targets in the economic sphere, presiding over decreasing levels of unemployment and public debt. However, the Sipilä government did not succeed in implementing its ambitious social and healthcare reform. Ultimately, this failure caused the government to resign in March 2019. In addition, many of the government’s experiments in the social security sector were criticized for having been poorly designed.

Citations:
Ville Pitkänen, “Kenen ääni kuuluu hallitusohjelmassa?,” Kanava, 2015, Nr 6, pp. 40-42;
valtioneuvosto.fi/implementation-of-the-government-programme;
valtioneuvosto.fi/hallitusohjelman toteutus/karkihankkeiden-toimintasuunnitelma.;
“Finland, a land of solutions: Government action plan 2018-2019.,” http://julkaisut.valtioneuvosto.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/160985/29_18_Finland_a_land_of_Solutions_2018-2019_EN.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
“Economic Policy County Report 2018,” https://www.talouspolitiikanarviointineuvosto.fi/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Report2018_fixed.pdf.

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
8
A number of mechanisms are in place that serve to bind ministers to the government’s program. Government programs result from negotiations between the political parties forming the government; in consequence, the coalition partners and ministries closely monitor implementation. Cabinet agenda issues are generally prepared, discussed and coordinated in cabinet committees as well as in informal groups and meetings. On the whole, ministers are closely watched and are expected to be integral parts of cooperative units. They would no doubt find it difficult as well as unrewarding to pursue paths of narrow self-interest. Nevertheless, attempts by individual cabinet members to raise their individual profiles were discernible under the Sipilä government, particularly within the Finns Party. The Finns Party left the government in June 2017, although several of its former cabinet members remained part of the Sipilä cabinet, forming a new party called Blue Reform.

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
8
The government monitoring of ministries is indirect in nature and the same mechanisms that foster ministerial compliance tend to have monitoring functions as well. These include the preparation and coordination of matters in cabinet committee meetings as well as other formal and informal meetings. In general, the various forms of interministerial coordination also fulfill monitoring functions. However, these forms are characterized by cooperative and consultative interactions rather than critical interactions. While the Prime Minister’s Office does monitor ministries, the monitoring is implicit rather than explicit.

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
8
All ministries use results-management practices to monitor agencies in their various task areas. In many cases, a balanced score system is used. However, not all agencies are monitored to the same extent. Some agencies, such as the National Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes), which operates under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment have a high degree of autonomy, with monitoring taking place only on a general level. Other agencies are accorded a somewhat lesser degree of autonomy. However, as a rule, they do have autonomy with respect to day-to-day operations. Monitoring takes many forms and a system of political undersecretaries of state has been designed to support the individual ministers in their monitoring activities.

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
8
Municipal governments have a right to assess taxes, collecting more than twice as much as the central government in income taxes. A government grant system additionally enables local governments to continue to provide public services even when experiencing a funding gap. In essence, a portion of locally collected taxes is put into a common pool, from which transfers are made to financially weak local governments. The central government establishes strict standards and service-provision requirements intended to cover all citizens. However, local governments are tasked with providing these services, which means that some municipalities are unable to meet the standards without increasing taxes. Given that local government units differ greatly in size and resources, they are in unequal positions in terms of capacity and performance efficiency. A large-scale reform of municipalities and services, started in 2006 has led to a considerable reduction in the number of municipalities. Among other goals, the reform aims to secure sufficient financing and an efficient provision of services across the country. The Sipilä government also introduced an additional, much contested reform project (SOTE) aimed at creating larger entities tasked with providing social and healthcare services in a more efficient way. As of the time of writing, the fate of the reform under the succeeding governments was unclear.

Citations:
http://alueuudistus.fi

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
Municipalities in Finland have a long tradition of independence in specific policy areas, while also implementing policies of the central government. In particular, municipalities are responsible for the implementation of educational, healthcare, social and infrastructural services. Municipalities may not be burdened with new functions or with financial or other obligations, nor may they be deprived of their functions and rights, except by an act of parliament. The control that the state exercises over municipalities does not imply any general state right to intervene. Control may be exercised only in accordance with specific legal provisions. Thus, subnational autonomy is guaranteed and protected by law. Still, the autonomy of local government may be curtailed in practice by financial pressures.

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
7
Since local authorities have the constitutional right to use their own discretion, the central government has limited capacity to ensure that national standards are consistently met. Local governments are separate from the central government, with municipal authorities recognized as existing independently of the state. Still, appeals to administrative courts regarding decisions taken by local authorities are possible on grounds that the decisions were not made in proper order or were otherwise illegal. In certain and very few specific matters, such as environmental or social-care issues, local government decisions must be confirmed by state authorities. A reform of municipalities and services, now ongoing for years, aims to increase the effectiveness of public-services provision in peripheral regions and improve local governments’ fiscal sustainability. Such a reform is likely to enhance the status of the subnational level further vis-à-vis the national level. However, the extent to which these reforms will meet the stated goals remains an open and much-debated question

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
In general, powerful vested interests are not favored in Finland. To a certain extent, this can be explained by the fact that Finnish governments tend to be coalition governments, often made up of parties from both the left and right.

Adaptability

#3

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
9
Most important adaptations have resulted from Finland’s EU membership. Finland was among the first EU member states to adopt the euro and government structures have in several instances been adapted to EU norms. The Parliamentary Grand Committee is tasked with preparing and adopting EU legislation. Furthermore, oversight of the EU secretariat, responsible for the coordination of EU affairs, has been transferred from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the Prime Minister’s Office. A coordination system exists to ensure that Finland maintains positions in line with its overall EU policy. This system involves relevant ministries, a cabinet committee on EU affairs and various EU subcommittees. These subcommittees are sector-specific governmental organs and constitute the foundation for the promotion of EU affairs within the state’s structuresThe National Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2022 was adopted in 2014, introducing measures to mitigate the adverse consequences of climate change. The implementation of the plan is coordinated by a national monitoring group. The National Climate Change Act, which lays down provisions on the planning system for climate change policy and monitoring of the implementation of climate objectives, has been in force since June 2015. A medium-term climate change policy plan under the act was adopted by the parliament in March 2018.

Citations:
Ministry of the Environment, “National climate change policy,” http://www.ym.fi/en-US/The_environment/Climate_and_air/Mitigation_of_climate_change/National_climate_policy

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
8
Typically, global public goods are best addressed collectively, on a multilateral basis, with cooperation in the form of international laws, agreements and protocols. Finland is a partner to several such modes of cooperation and contributes actively to the implementation of several global frameworks. In its climate policy, Finland is committed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement and EU legislation. The Ministry of the Environment is responsible for coordinating climate negotiations, and specifically, within the framework of the European Union, Finland is committed to bringing down its national annual average carbon emissions. Finland held the chair of the Arctic Council between 2017 and 2019, the presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2016, and the presidency of the Nordic Council in 2017. These and other commitments notwithstanding, Finland cannot be regarded a dominant actor with regard to protecting global public goals. Given its relatively high level of knowledge, strong research capacities, and the existence of frameworks for policy coordination and monitoring, Finland does have the institutional capacities to participate in global governance. However, the capacities are not utilized to their fullest extent. The Rinne government’s program underlined the importance of climate protection and ecological sustainability, and aimed at solidifying Finland’s pioneering role in this area worldwide, but it remains to be seen how these goals will be realized.

Citations:
www.motiva.fi/en/energy_in_finland/national_climate_and_energy_strategy
http://valtioneuvosto.fi/documents/10184/1427398/Ratkaisujen+Suomi_EN_YHDISTETTY_netti.pdf/8d2e1a66-e24a-4073-8303-ee3127fbfcac

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
10
The monitoring and evaluation of existing institutional models forms an important element of the Finnish political and administrative system. Earlier attempts to improve the proportionality of the electoral system and alter constituency sizes are examples of how evaluation and monitoring processes in Finland mainly focus on administrative and steering issues. A system of program management that introduced new measures for monitoring the government plan was implemented several years ago. This monitoring system has been adopted as well as improved by subsequent governments. The Stubb cabinet (2014 – 2015) made monitoring data publicly available. The same policy was followed by the Sipilä cabinet. For example, progress toward realization of the 26 main goals and five main reforms listed in the government plan were reported online and updated monthly. The Rinne government launched a joint communication model for its major reform projects, managed by the Government Communications Department. One of this body’s central tasks is to provide an overview of the implementation of reforms.

Citations:
http://valtioneuvosto.fi/en/implementation-of-the-government-programme/information;
“Government Programme Monitoring Data,” https://www.avoindata.fi/data/fi/dataset/hallitusohjelman-seurantadata;
Valtioneuvoston kanslia, “Jyrki Kataisen ja Alexander Stubbin hallitusohjelmien loppuseuranta 2015,” http://valtioneuvosto.fi/documents/10184/321857/Hallitusohjelmien+loppuseuranta+032015.pdf/44d7de02-958c-4b1c-8633-201038a0f2f5;
Toimintasuunnitelma strategisen hallitusohjelman kärkihankkeiden ja reformien toimeenpanemiseksi 2015-2019. Päivitys 2016. Hallituksen julkaisusarja 2/2016.
“Government Communications Strategy.” Publications of the Finnish Government
2019:30

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
8
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. The Rinne government introduced six strategic ministerial working groups, in which ministers from different departments guided and directed the implementation of government-program items within specific policy areas.

Citations:
https://valtioneuvosto.fi/en/rinne/ministerial-working-groups
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