Interministerial Coordination


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

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

Either directly or through the council’s secretariat, the prime minister can block any item presented and either return it for redrafting or turn it down completely. This may be because a project does not fit the government agreement or conflicts with one of the coalition parties’ agenda, but can be for any other reason as well. All government members must by contrast defend accepted projects on a collegial basis.
In the U.S. system, this item relates to how the executive departments and agencies involve the president and the White House staff in their work. Under long-established practice, however, the president and the White House staff are in fact dominant within the executive branch and can therefore prioritize issues they see as important to the president’s agenda. In the Trump administration, agency policy development has been heavily shaped by Trump’s desire to cut regulations and to reverse actions taken by the Obama administration. There has been little policy development shaped by long-term agency missions or priorities, nor has White House involvement reflected organized deliberative processes.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC) is always involved at an early stage in assisting with the development and drafting of any significant government policy and the resulting legislation. The PMC and the other relevant department must agree on a policy before it can be tabled in cabinet or considered by the relevant minister or ministers.
Line departments and central agencies have interrelated and complementary capacities for the coordination of policy proposals, with ultimate authority lying with central agencies. Thus, line ministries in Canada have a relatively high level of responsibility to involve the government office, the PCO, in the preparation of policy proposals. On the other hand, line departments are not always forthcoming with information that casts themselves in a bad light.
The Government or Cabinet Office and line ministries have a strong tendency to coordinate activity, and in practice the president or Government Office and the Ministry of Finance are nearly always involved in the preparation of policy proposals. No serving minister would ignore the president’s opinion in the preparation and elaboration of a policy proposal.
About the structure of the Cabinet Office (Centro de Gobierno):
The norms of “minister rule” and the portfolio principle (where ministers are in charge of certain areas) give the line ministries a fair amount of autonomy. The line ministries also have the most technical expertise. Nonetheless, to achieve coherent government policy, interdepartmental coordination is required. Since most governments are coalition governments this is particularly important. Coordination is not hierarchical, but rather based on negotiations. The prime minister has a special position given his/her constitutional prerogatives as the person who appoints and dismisses ministers. Major issues and strategic considerations are dealt with in the government coordination committee (regeringens koordineringsudvalg) involving the prime minister and other key ministers. The standing committees are also important coordination devices. In addition, there are ad hoc coordination meetings between the leaders of the parties constituting the governing coalition. The former three-party government formed in November 2016 was a minority government. The prime minister had to maintain contact with the leaders of the other government parties, the Conservatives and Liberal Alliance, as well as the parliamentary support party, the Danish People’s Party.

The current Social Democratic government, which has held power since June 2019, is a minority single-party government. It depends on three parties – the Social Liberals, the Socialist People’s Party and the Unity List – for parliamentary support. However, it can also seek broader agreements during the legislative process.

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

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

“Regeringen indgår aftale om ny budgetlov,” (Accessed 10 October 2015)
The guiding rule in Finland is that each ministry is, within its mandate, responsible for the preparation of issues that fall within the scope of government and also for the proper functioning of the administration. Given this framework, rather than line ministries involving the Prime Minister’s Office in policy preparation, the expectation is that the Prime Minister’s Office involves ministries in its own policy preparations. In practice, of course, the patterns of interaction are not fixed. For one thing, policy programs and other intersectoral subject matters in the cabinet program are a concern for the Prime Minister’s Office as well as for the ministries, and efforts must be coordinated. The government’s analysis, assessment and research activities that support policymaking across the ministries are coordinated by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). In addition, because decision-making is collective and consensual in nature, ministry attempts to place items on the cabinet’s agenda without involving the Prime Minister’s Office will fail. Finland has a recent tradition of fairly broad-based coalition governments, 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.
Jaakko Nousiainen, “Politiikan huipulla. Ministerit ja ministeriöt Suomen parlamentaarisessa järjestelmässä,” Porvoo: Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö, 1992, p. 163.
Line ministers have to inform the prime minister of all their projects. Strong discipline is imposed even at the level of public communication level, and this rule is reinforced by the attitude of the media, which tend to cover any slight policy difference as the expression of political tension or party divergence. Not only the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) oversees the policy process but also his cabinet assistants, in each area, supervise, liaise and coordinate with their counterparts in line ministries about the content, timing and political sequences of a project. The secretary-general of the PMO (as well as his counterpart at the Élysée) operates in the shadow, but he is one of the most powerful actors within that machinery. He can step in if the coordination or control process at that level has failed to stem the expression of differences within the government. Traditionally the secretary-general is a member of the Conseil d’État and – in spite of the fact that he could be fired at any time for any reason – there is a tradition of continuity and stability beyond the fluctuation and vagaries of political life. It has to be added that given the presidential character of the Fifth Republic, the same type of control is exerted by the President’s Office in coordination with the PMO. In practice, the two general secretaries are the most powerful civil servants whose opinions might prevail on ministry choices.
The Prime Minister’s Office is involved in legislative and expenditure proposals. The process is a highly interactive with much feedback between the line ministries, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General. The Department of Finance has considerable input into all proposals with revenue or expenditure implications. Any significant policy items have to be discussed in advance with the Department of the Taoiseach. The Cabinet Handbook lays out detailed procedural rules for the discussion of policy proposals and the drafting of legislation. It is publicly available on the website of the Department of the Taoiseach.

As in many countries, the Department of Finance is a lot more than a regular “line ministry.” The procedures state:
“As a matter of principle, the sanction of the minister for finance is required for all expenditure. In any proposal for new legislation, it should be made clear that the sanction of the Minister for Finance is required to incur any expenditure under the legislation. Neither the voting of money by Dáil Éireann, nor the inclusion of an allocation in an Estimate constitutes sanction.” (Department of Finance 2008: Public Financial Procedures).
New Zealand
If line ministries prepare a policy proposal, they are obliged to consult other ministries that are affected, as well as the coordinating units, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), the Treasury and the State Services Commission. There are clear guidelines that govern the coordination of policy formulation in the core executive.
Cabinet Office Circular CO (17) 10, Labour-New Zealand First Coalition, with Confidence and Supply from the Green Party: Consultation and Operating Arrangements. December 17, 2017.
South Korea
Executive power is concentrated in the president’s hands. Thus, line ministries have to involve the Blue House in all major policy proposals. The president has the authority to, and often does rearrange, merge and abolish ministries according to his or her agenda. For example, President Moon created a Ministry of SMEs and Startups; renamed the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning as the Ministry of Science and ICT; and merged the National Security Agency and the Ministry of Public Administration and Security into a single Ministry of the Interior and Safety. He also (re-)established the National Fire Agency and the Korea Coast Guard abolished by his predecessor. However, while Moon has promised to decentralize power, there have as yet been few signs of any weakening of the role of the Blue House. The Blue House gets involved with and coordinates certain policies by exerting its political dominance rather than through administrative capability. This is particularly true for policy areas falling outside the president’s main priorities, for which the Blue House does not possess sufficient knowledge or human-resources capacity to act effectively.
The Cabinet Office is at the center of policymaking. Since the May 2015 general election, all line ministries are required to prepare single departmental plans (SDP), building on a process already launched during the previous coalition government. As explained by John Manzoni, the chief executive of the civil service appointed in October 2014, these SDPs are intended to bring together inputs and outputs, clarify trade-offs, and to identify where departments and the cross-departmental functions need to work together to deliver the required outcomes.

Line ministries’ policymaking is subject to intense scrutiny by the Cabinet Office, while the cost implications of line ministries’ policy proposals are controlled by the Treasury.

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

Nevertheless, coordination mechanisms were not able to resolve the political tensions around Brexit. Thus, while the machinery of government remains broadly capable of involving the Prime Minister’s Office, the manner in which Brexit has dominated policymaking over the last year militated against “business as usual.”
The GO/PMO is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
Under the Orbán governments, line ministries have mostly acted as executive agencies that follow orders from above and whose activities have been subject to detailed oversight by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The PMO has made sure that policies are as close in line as possible with the prime minister’s policy preferences and the ideological rhetoric. However, the strong coordination capacity of the PMO has also meant that it has sometimes become a bottleneck in the process of policymaking. Moreover, the co-existence of the PMO and the Cabinet Office has created unnecessary complexity. Following the April 2018 parliamentary elections, the structure of the incumbent Orbán government has undergone a major transformation. The Ministry of Innovation and Technology (ITM) has been created and received many functions, while the largest super-ministry, the Ministry of Human Resources (EMMI), has been significantly weakened. In socioeconomic decision-making Hungary’s central bank , MNB and its governor, György Matolcsy, have become increasingly influential, decreasing the role of Mihály Varga, the Minister of Finance.
Hajnal, G., K. Kádár, É. Kovács (2018): Hungary, in: N. Thijs, G. Hammerschmid (eds.), Public Administration Characteristics and Performance in EU28. Luxemburg: European Union, 426-459, 442-443 ( 1-11e8-8bc1-01aa75ed71a1/language-en).
Due to a strong tradition of ministerial independence, ministries have considerable flexibility in drafting their own policy proposals without consulting the Prime Minister’s Office. Yet, where a minister and prime minister belong to the same party, there is usually some Prime Minister’s Office involvement. However, where the minister and prime minister belong to separate coalition parties the Prime Minister’s Office has little or no involvement in policy development. After the publication of the Special Investigation Committee report in 2010, a committee was formed to evaluate and suggest necessary steps toward the improvement of public administration. To improve working conditions within the executive branch, the committee proposed introducing legislation to clarify the prime minister’s role and responsibilities. In March 2016, new regulations on governmental procedures were approved (Reglur um starfshætti ríkisstjórnar), requiring ministers to present all bills they intend to present in parliament first to the cabinet as a whole.
Reglur um starfshætti ríkisstjórnar. Nr. 292/2016 18. mars 2016.

Skýrsla starfshóps forsætisráðuneytisins (2010): Viðbrögð stjórnsýslunnar við skýrslu rannsóknarnefndar Alþingis. Reykjavík, Forsætisráðuneytið.
Since its establishment in 2011, the PKC has become increasingly involved in line ministry preparation of policy proposals. PKC representatives are invited to participate in working groups. The involvement of the PKC is at the ministry’s discretion. Informal lines of communication ensure that the PKC is regularly briefed on upcoming policy proposals.

Latvia has a fragmented cabinet government system. Consequently, ministers enjoy relatively substantial autonomy, weakening the power of the prime minister. As a result, ministers belonging to a different party than the prime minister will attempt to block the prime minister’s office from interfering in sensitive policy issues whenever possible.
The Prime Minister’s Office is not legally allowed to be involved in the preparation of bills or proposals by line ministries. Sensitive political proposals are often included in the coalition program. There are no institutionalized mechanisms of coordination between line ministries and there is no unit dealing with policy assessment and evaluation. Informally, however, no sensitive proposal is presented to the Council of Ministers without being approved beforehand by the prime minister. An informal body of ministerial civil servants meets ahead of the Council of Ministers, to prepare the agenda and make adjustments if needed. Even though the prime minister has not held the influential finance portfolio since 2009, his central role in the governance process has not been weakened.
“Arrêté grand-ducal du 28 janvier 2015 portant constitution des Ministères.” Journal officiel du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, 30 January 2015. Accessed 23 Oct. 2019.
Responsibility for the preparation of policies lies with line ministries. As a matter of routine, line ministries will involve the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice, when addressing potentially controversial matters and for the purpose of coordinating with other policies. This interaction often involves ongoing two-way communication during the planning process. Initiatives lacking support by the Office of the Prime Minister would not win cabinet approval.
Both the Government Office (GO) and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) are regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals by line ministries. Although these offices are formally autonomous, the legal and political hierarchy within the government facilitates and even encourages this pattern of consultation with the prime minister’s entourage. Consultation with the GO tends to focus on drafting or technical issues, while the PMO is more interested in political and strategic considerations. The process is firmly institutionalized and takes place weekly, since representatives of all ministries gather at the cabinet meeting preparatory committee, which is held every Wednesday and chaired by the GO head and the deputy prime minister. Advisers from the PMO also participate in this committee and in the important specialized ministerial committee on economic affairs (see “Cabinet Committees”) that also assists the Council of Ministers. However, even if the primary joint role of the GO and the PMO is horizontal coordination, their staff resources are limited, and cannot be briefed on the whole range of government activity. Therefore, they normally focus on each ministerial department’s most important sectoral developments. Since April 2019, under the powers of Spain’s caretaker government, line ministries have had limited room for maneuver with regard to the ordinary office of public affairs.
Paniagua (2018), La Moncloa, in: Lanzaro (coord.) Centros de Gobierno, Tecnos, Madrid.
Ley 39/2015
Generally, line-ministry legislative or white-paper initiatives are rooted in the government policy accord, EU policy coordination and subsequent Council of Ministers decisions to allocate drafting to one or two particular ministries. In the case of complex problems, draft legislation may involve considerable jockeying for position among the various line ministries. The prime minister is always involved in the kick-off of major new policy initiatives and sometimes in the wording of the assignment/terms of reference itself. After that, however, it may take between six months and four years before the issue reaches the decision-making stage in ministerial and Council of Ministers committees, and again comes under the formal review of the prime minister. Meanwhile, the prime minister is obliged to rely on informal coordination with his fellow ministers. It is difficult to draw conclusions regarding the effectiveness of informal coordination, information-sharing procedures and other such practices. High-level civil servants close to the prime minister have complained about the increasing use of spin doctors and political assistants in such processes. But the prime minister has a good reputation with regard to formal leadership and conflict management.
R.B. Andeweg and G.A. Irwin ( 2014), Governance and politics of the Netherlands. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

NRC-next, Topambtenaar vond Balkenendes optreden slechte zaak,18 June, 2018
Since the onset of the crisis in 2010, the PMO has gradually acquired more power and resources to supervise line ministries, the policies of which were streamlined to fit the fiscal consolidation effort of Greece. However, the PMO was not the only authority with which line ministries consulted. In fact, as the implementation of the Third Economic Adjustment Program for Greece unfolded, line ministers often turned to the Ministry of Finance for technical and drafting guidance in cases where legislation in development within individual ministries ran into financial constraints imposed by Greece’s creditors. However, after the government turnover of July 2019, ties between line ministries and the PMO were further strengthened, as the latter was reorganized and staffed with highly skilled policy experts.
Kevin Featherstone and Dimitris Papadimitriou (2013), “The Emperor Has No Clothes! Power and Resources within the Greek Core Executive,” Governance, Vol. 26, Issue 3, pp. 523-545.
Traditionally, the prime minister did not hold the power to return items to Israeli general cabinet meetings. However, in 2012, it filed for an amendment to standard practice, which was then ratified by the government. This included expanding the prime minister’s authority to delay the implementation of government decisions by resubmitting an issue to vote after it had been rejected, as well as authorizing the prime minister to cancel, postpone or summon meetings for government decisions. Since the passage of this amendment, the prime minister has returned several items and the prime ministerial position has been significantly strengthened.

In an indirect way, the PMO is involved in the preparation of policy proposals (see section G2.1). Each team is responsible for each government ministry’s regulation. Those teams are responsible for advising on regulations across all policy fields, including new law proposals, and are operated by PMO staff, although they are stationed in different governmental ministries. These teams allow for the PMO to be kept informed of proposals and policy developments across different government offices.
Barnea, Shlomit and Ofer Kenig, “Political nominations in the executive branch,” IDI website June 2011 (Hebrew)

Reducing the Regulatory Burden Discussing the decision of the Ministerial Committee on Social and Economic Affairs no, 39, September 2014 (Hebrew):

“Government bill amendment 868 from 12.8.2012,” PMO official website: (Hebrew)

Weisman, Lilach, “Expansion of the Prime Minister’s authorities was approved; We must stop the madness,” Globes website 12.8.2012: (Hebrew)
In Japan, the role of line ministries vis-à-vis the government office is complicated by the influence of a third set of actors: entities within the governing parties. During the decades of the LDP’s postwar rule, the party’s own policymaking organ, the Policy Affairs Research Council, developed considerable influence, ultimately gaining the power to vet and approve policy proposals in all areas of government policy.

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

While ministries have sometimes sought to regain their former clout over their portfolios, seven years under one prime minister (Abe since late 2012) have centralized policymaking practices to a quite substantial degree. The cabinet reshuffle of September 2019 seems to have strengthened this trend further, with Abe setting up “axes” of close political allies in core ministries to promote his agenda.
Leo Lewis and Kana Inagaki, Japan Inc.: Heavy meddling, The Financial Times, 15 March 2016,

Jesper Koll, Abe’s lesson in stability and pragmatism, The Japan Times, 13 September 2019,
The government adopts multiannual political priorities, coordinates their implementation and regularly monitors progress. As a result, it focuses on policy proposals and strategic projects related to these annual priorities. The majority of policy proposals are initiated by ministries and other state institutions, but the Government Office is kept informed with regard to their status and content. The fact that all policy areas are legally assigned to particular ministers, coupled with the fact that since 2000 governments have been formed by party coalitions rather than a single party, has meant that line ministries enjoy considerable autonomy within their policy areas. The Government Office is sometimes called upon to mediate policy disagreements between line ministries. Under the Skvernelis government, a new commission for strategic projects has been established to coordinate 41 IT, infrastructure and change projects. The commission is chaired by the prime minister, and includes a government chancellor; a prime-ministerial adviser; and ministers for finance, foreign affairs, and transport and communication. In addition, a project-management standard has been developed to steer projects implemented by the government and its institutions.
Given Mexico’s presidential system, cabinet ministers are respectful of and even deferential to the presidential office. Moreover, cabinet ministers dismissed by the president after disagreements rarely find a way back into high-level politics, which tends to promote loyalty to the president and presidential staff. Accordingly, senior figures in the presidential office are very powerful, because they determine access to the president and can influence ministerial careers. At present, President López Obrador dominates Mexican politics, perhaps more the his predecessor.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is regularly briefed on new developments affecting the preparation of policy proposals.
The minister of finance, Mário Centeno, was by far the most influential minister in the Council of Ministers under the 21st constitutional government that was in office until October 2019. His internal prestige is bolstered by the international recognition he receives as president of the Eurogroup. In many cases, it was Minister Centeno that pushed back on policies. It remains to be seen whether this pattern will be maintained under the 22nd constitutional government that took office on 26 October 2019. As noted in the previously, the new government structure hints at a possible reduction in the internal weight of the minister of finance. However, it is far too early to tell.
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.
Jacobsson, B., J. Pierre and G. Sundström (2015), Governing the Embedded State (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

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

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

Premfors, R. and G. Sundström (2007), Regeringskansliet (Malmö: Liber).
Switzerland’s government consists of only seven ministries, each of which has a broad area of competency and is responsible for a large variety of issues. There are no line ministries. However, there are federal offices and institutions connected to the various ministries. These work closely with the minister responsible for their group. Since ministers must achieve a large majority on the Federal Council in order to win support for a proposal, there is strong coordination between offices. Indeed, political coordination among the high ranks of the administration can be rather intense, although the limited capacity and time of the Federal Council members, as well as their diverging interests, create practical bottlenecks.
There is a tension, however, between the consensus principle in the Federal Council that demands a common solution supported by all seven ministers, and the departmental principle that enables ministers to pursue their party line within their departments which, in turn, allows them to satisfy party members as they secure support for consensus-derived government solutions. Increasing polarization in parliament strengthens the departmental principle and renders consensus-driven solutions within the Federal Council more difficult to achieve. Nonetheless, the Federal Council so far managed to balance the two principles (Sager and Vatter 2019).
Sager, F. & Vatter A. (2019). „Regierungshandeln im Spannungsfeld von Partei- und Exekutivpolitik am Beispiel des Bundesrats“, in Blackbox Exekutive. Eds. A. Ritz, T. Haldemann & F. Sager. 195-211. Zürich. NZZ Libro.
Line ministries tend to prepare policy proposals independently and introduce them to the prime minister and the Council of Ministers when they are completed. The prime minister and the Administration of the Council of Ministers are consulted when proposals cross ministerial lines, or are incompatible with other proposed or existing legislation. Even in such cases, the involvement of the administration tends to focus mainly on technical and drafting issues and formal legal considerations. There are no official procedures for consulting the prime minister during the preparation of policy proposals.
The legislative plan of the government divides tasks among the ministries and other central bodies of the state administration and sets deadlines for the submission of bills to the cabinet. The line ministry has to involve and take comments from, a range of institutions, including the Government Office and the Government Legislative Council. This consultation process primarily focuses on technical issues and the harmonization of legal norms.
Two different forms exist to communicate line ministries’ proposals to the GO. Firstly, all policy initiatives are discussed in the coalition council. Secondly, the cabinet informally examines all substantial issues at its weekly meetings. No binding decisions are made in the meetings, the main function being to exchange information and to prepare for formal government sessions. Under current government (in office since April 2019) advance communication between line ministries and the Prime Minister’s Office has weakened, and line ministries sometimes act independently.
The preparation of bills is mainly the prerogative of the line ministries (Ressortprinzip). Over the course of regular policy processes, the Chancellery is generally well informed, but is not strongly involved in ministerial initiatives. Most disputes between ministries and the Chancellery are discussed and resolved in the often-weekly meetings between the state secretaries and the Chancellery’s staff. Because of the rapidly decreasing electoral support of the three governing parties, the CDU, CSU and SPD, the line ministries and their respective policies have become increasingly independent, following the preferences of the political party that heads each ministry. Each party today works to push through its own policy conception even if this may contradict that of the other coalition parties. Negotiating a commonly developed government policy is a highly contested and extraordinarily difficult process. From the perspective of the middle of the current government period, it is evident that all ministries are used to further the party politics of the individual coalition partners with an eye to the declining voter support in opinion polls.
The Prime Minister’s Office is in principle regularly kept informed of the development of policy proposals generated by line ministries. With regard to the policy proposals of particular political relevance for the government, the consultation process starts from the early stages of drafting and is more significant, involving not only formal but also substantive issues. In the fields less directly connected with the main mission of the government, exchanges are more formal and occur only when proposals have been fully drafted. Under the first Conte government, government control over line ministries was weaker than in previous governments, given the political weakness of the prime minister and the ideologically bifurcated nature of the coalition. Ministers responded more readily to their party leader than to the head of government. This pattern seems likely to continue under the second Conte government.
Under the PiS government, the Chancellery has kept its enhanced formal involvement in the preparation of policy proposals by the line ministries. However, its actual gatekeeping role has declined. Most bills are submitted by individual members of parliament rather than by ministries, although the bills will have been prepared by the government in advance. This procedure allows for a swifter legislative process with fewer consultation requirements, so that law-making can more effectively be controlled by the PiS leadership.
Currently there are 16 line ministries and nine policy councils, which develop long-term strategic vision and report on the progress of governmental activities. The Ministry of Development, which has been the primary consultative body for preparing policies according to the government’s program, was abolished. In addition, four offices were established: finance, investment, digital transformation and human resources.

Six departments are attached to the presidency: Chief of Staff, Religious Affairs, National Security Council, Defense Industry, State Supervision Council, Communication and Strategy, and Budget Unit. These departments were established to promote efficiency and coordination in the executive.

Decree no. 698 has arguably transferred all lawmaking power to the president. In August 2019, the duties of the Ministry of Treasury and Finance were expanded “to enable the Treasury to participate in domestic and foreign companies by the decision of the president of the republic.” The decree has also precipitated a draft proposal to authorize the president to appoint the head of Boğaziçi University and members of the executive board tasked with the construction of the Istanbul canal, which is currently under the domain of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and four district municipalities.
TC Cumhurbaşkanlığı Strateji ve Bütçe Başkanlığı, 2018 Yılı Genel Faaliyet Raporu, › 2018-yili-genel-faaliyet-raporu (accessed 1 November 2019)
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K. Gözler, Türkiye’nin Yönetim Yapısı (TC İdari Teşkilatı), Bursa: Ekin Basın Yayın Dağıtım, 2018.
Z. Sobacı et al.,Turkey’s New Government Model and the Presidential Organization, SETA Perspective No. 45, July 2018.
“Bakanlar Kurulu Yetkileri KHK’yle Cumhurbaşkanına Geçti,” 4 JUly 2018, (accessed 1 November 2018)
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Consultation is rather formal and focuses on technical and drafting issues.
As all ministers are equal, the autonomy of line ministries is substantial. The chancellor cannot determine the outlines of government policy and does not have to be involved in the drafting of legislation. Normally, however, proposals are coordinated by the prime minister’s office. Formally, the Federal Ministry of Finance can offer its opinion as to whether a proposal fits into the government’s overall budget policy. The Ministry of Finance thus has a kind of cross-cutting power.

The 2017 – 2019 government tried to develop a policy of “message control.” The policy aimed to reduce the visibility of individual ministers (although not necessarily their power, as was evidenced by the actions of the FPÖ minister of the interior), and increase the guiding power of the chancellor and deputy chancellor – at least as long as both were in control of their respective parties.

The “Ibiza scandal” – which followed the release of a secretly filmed meeting in which the former FPÖ leader, who was also deputy chancellor, attempted to sell government positions and a media outlet to a (fake) Russian oligarch – also demonstrated the limits of the attempted “message control.”

The conflict concerning the Federal Agency for the Protection of the Constitution and Fighting Terrorism (BVT) demonstrated a significant lack of coordination between the different branches of the Ministry of the Interior, and between the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice.
Since 2013, a sustained effort at coordination has been made in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and in line ministries. During the period under review, the government established an office within the PMO to coordinate the policies contained in the ruling party’s electoral manifesto. In a new review strategy, ministries monitor the outputs of policies previously discussed with the cabinet; the OPM then monitors policies until they are implemented and supports the ministries in their implementation. Coordination meetings are also organized by the OPM bringing together the various ministries. Decisions taken by ministries have more than once been rescinded by the PMO, a practice less common in the past. The PMO may also seek to review its policies with the help of the Management Efficiency Unit and occasionally employs consultants. Cabinet meetings have allowed experts to give direct advice to ministers, a departure from the past. From time to time, cabinet meetings are held in different regions for the purpose of consultations. As a consequence of a number of past policy failures, most policy proposals have since 2017 required cabinet approval, with implementation subsequently monitored. Specialist ad hoc committees and interministerial cabinet committees are set up to facilitate coordination between the PMO and ministries.
Policy proposals are usually drafted within ministries. The Secretariat General of the Government provides administrative and legal support for policymaking but has a limited role in the quality control of policy design. The Prime Minister’s Chancellery usually becomes involved only after the compulsory public-consultation procedures are finalized, and its mandate is to ensure that policy proposals align with broader government strategy. While the prime minister occasionally publicly involves himself in debating certain legislative proposals and may contradict line ministers, the final decision on the content of the policy proposal tends to be made by the line ministry.
Line ministries consult with the government’s Legislation Office, but this consultation is mostly formal, focusing on technical and drafting issues. Ministries normally enjoy huge leeway in transforming government priorities into legislation, and there is no stable and transparent arbitration scheme that would give the Prime Minister’s Office a formal role in settling interministerial differences.

The involvement of the Prime Minister’s Office in the preparation of policy proposals has been complicated by the large number of ministries. During the era of Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, Croatia had only 14 ministries. By contrast, the second Plenković government consists of 20 ministries, the third highest number in the European Union.
Giljević, Z. (2015): Utjecaj okoline organizacije na upravu koordinaciju: Ministarstvo uprave kao studija slučaja (The Influence of Organizational Environment on Administrative Coordination: Croatian Ministry of Public Administration as a Case Study), in: Hrvatska i komparativna javna uprava 15(4): 875-908.
In Slovakia, the government manifesto defines certain priorities that are elaborated in legislative plans. These additionally divide tasks and responsibilities among the line ministries and other central bodies, and set deadlines for the submission of bills to the cabinet. In their policy-development process, the line ministries legally must include a range of institutions and interest groups that are defined as stakeholders in their respective fields. Ministries are also obliged to consult with the Government Office and its legislative council as they develop bills. However, full responsibility for drafting bills has traditionally rested with the line ministries, and consultation with the Government Office is mainly technical. Prime Minister Fico tried to increase the monitoring activities of the Government Office, especially those related to EU structural funds. Peter Pellegrini, his successor, has continued this approach.
The services within the presidential palace have essentially been ad hoc and determined by the president in office. The tasks of the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers are mostly limited to providing administrative support and format checks of proposals. The Attorney General’s Office undertakes legality checks of draft legislation. In drafting laws, ministries may refer to policies formulated by the government or to general frameworks decided by the cabinet. Draft laws are discussed only during the presentation and deliberation process in the Council of Ministers and not within a broader policy discussion.

Under the law on fiscal responsibility, the finance minister controls policy proposals to ensure compliance with general budgetary plans and policies. No central coordinating body exists that could oversee policy proposals in a comprehensive manner.
Directorate of Strategy, Coordination, & Communication, Cyprus Ministry of Finance,
The Government Office is not directly and systematically involved in line ministries’ preparation of policy proposals. Once the coalition agreement and government program have defined certain projects, full responsibility for drafting bills rests with the line ministries, interministerial commissions or project teams. The Government Office is seldom briefed about the state of affairs. If it is, consultation is rather formal and focuses mostly on legal and technical issues.
Consultation occurs only after proposals are fully drafted as laws.
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