Strategic Capacity


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

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.
Government policies have traditionally been consensus driven. This applies both to parliament, as most governments have been minority governments, and in relation to negotiations involving organizations and the political system, most notably in relation to labor market issues.

Major reforms in Denmark are usually prepared through committees or commissions established to produce reports outlining issues and options. In recent years, commissions have played an essential role in the policy formation process, including Strukturkommissionen (infrastructure commission), Velfærdskommissionen (welfare commission), Arbejdsmarkedskommissionen (labor market commission), Skattekommissionen (tax commission), Produktivitetskommissionen (productivity commission) and Dagpengekommissionen (unemployment insurance commission). In addition, it is quite common to appoint expert groups to prepare inputs for important policy discussions and reforms. The members can be experts, representatives of organizations or civil servants. Moreover, professionalism in ministries has increased.

A tradition has developed in formulating overarching strategic policy plans (usually with a horizon of about 10 years), such as the government’s 2010, 2015, 2020 and (most recently) 2025 plans. The 2025 plan was presented by the Liberal minority government in August 2016 and reaffirmed by the subsequent three-party government in May 2017. The plan sets policy targets for, among other areas, fiscal sustainability and living standards.

Reforms of the public sector – including healthcare, active labor market and social policies, and tax administration – have been criticized for being inadequately prepared. For example, reforms of the tax authority have been criticized for being excessively focused on cost savings, which results in less effective tax administration and reduced control over tax compliance. The new government has allocated funds to tackle these problems. In her opening speech to the parliament, the prime minister called for more decentralization and criticized the savings made by previous new public management approaches.
Niels Ejersbo og Carsten Greve, Modernisering af den offentlige sektor. Copenhagen: Børsen, 2005.

DK2025 – et stærkere Danmark. August 2016. (Accessed 17 October 2016).

The Danish Government, “Vækst og velstand 2025,” (Accessed 16 October 2017)

“Afhøringer i skandalesag om udbytteskat for milliarder indledes,” (Accessed 7 November 2018).

Statsminister Mette Frederiksens tale ved Folketingets åbning 2019, (Accessed 17 October 2019)

Finance Ministry, Finanslovforslaget 2020. (accessed 15 October 2019).
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.
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
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.
Neither the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) nor the Privy Council Office (PCO) has an official planning unit. In 1997, Policy Horizons Canada was established under the PCO with a mandate to provide analysis and help the federal public service anticipate emerging policy challenges and opportunities, in order to support medium-term policy development. Its budget is small, however, and this unit has not reported through the PCO since 2007. Nevertheless, there are thousands of public servants employed by the PCO, the Department of Finance and the Treasury Board (close to 3,000 individuals in all) who have no specific program responsibility. Their purpose is to manage politically sensitive files and to plan. Therefore, some argue that the planning capacity of the government of Canada is as strong as that of other Western countries, and in some cases even stronger.

The Trudeau government has made ample use of special advisory groups to provide information and consultations on a number of policy areas (e.g., economic growth, cultural policy and issues relating to young people).
In December 2011, Latvia established a central government planning unit, the Cross-Sectoral Coordination Centre (Pārresoru koordinācijas centrs, PKC). The PKC’s mandate was to develop a long-term strategic approach to public policymaking, while also monitoring decision-making to ensure that public policies are effective. The PKC also monitors ministries’ progress toward meeting the government’s stated goals, as outlined in the government declaration.

To date, the PKC has produced the National Development Plan, monitored progress toward the Latvia 2030 framework and established an active role for itself in decision-making, contributing to policy debates on a range of cross-sectoral issues such as demographics and income disparities. The PKC reviews all proposals discussed by the cabinet and provides weekly briefings for the prime minister on substantive issues pending discussion by the cabinet. In 2015, the PKC’s mandate was expanded to include a coordinating role in the management of state-owned enterprises. In 2020, its mandate will be further expanded to include overseeing the compliance of shareholders in state-owned enterprises with statutory disclosure requirements, as well as selecting the members of the council of state-owned enterprises.

In addition to the PKC’s core role and a reduction in departmental units and staff numbers, most ministries have retained some independent planning capacity. The PKC has been criticized for becoming mired in the details of policy-planning, effectively duplicating the work of ministries while failing to provide the cross-sectoral, meta-approach expected of it.

The effectiveness of the PKC is limited not by its ability to provide quality analysis and evidence-based arguments, but rather by its inability to carve out a position of authority and influence within the decision-making process. Analysis provided by the PKC to politicians is easily tossed aside when political expediency dictates. The PKC itself sees its role as providing much-needed analysis, but not necessarily ensuring that these evidence-based arguments are respected in the decision-making process.
1. The Cross-Sectoral Coordination Centre, Information Available at (in Latvian):, Last assessed: 25.10.2019.

2. The Cross-Sectoral Coordination Centre (2018) Annual Report:2018, Available at:, Last assessed: 25.10.2019.

3. Offical Publisher of the Republic of Latvia (Latvijas Vēstnesis) (2019) Changes in the governance of State Owned Enterprises: Changes in 2020, Last assessed: 25.10.2019.
Lithuania’s strategic-planning system was introduced in 2000 and has been updated several times since. At the central level of government, the planning system involves all stages (planning, monitoring and evaluation) of managing strategic and operational performance. The main strategic documents include the long-term Lithuania 2030 strategy and the medium-term National Progress Program, which is in turn linked to short-term strategic-performance plans and budget programs. The planning system in general is well-institutionalized; its functioning is supported by a network of strategic-planning units within each ministry and a governmental Strategic Committee that was reintroduced in 2013 by the 2012 – 2016 government. However, the strategic-planning system suffers from unnecessary complexity. About 250 strategic documents exist, while strategic action plans include 1,800 monitoring indicators. The 2016 – 2020 government developed guidelines and an action plan for restructuring the strategic-planning and budget-formulation system to focus more on results and ensure fiscal sustainability. A new draft law on strategic management is intended to regulate the results-oriented strategic-management system. Implementation of this legislation would reduce the number of strategic-planning documents from 290 to 100; however, many types of strategic-planning document would remain.

A State Progress Council composed of politicians, public and civil servants, academics, business leaders, and other representatives of Lithuanian society was established to help design the Lithuania 2030 strategy and monitor its implementation. The council’s composition was updated after the 2012 to 2016 government came to office and meetings were held on a regular basis until 2016. Although the 2016 to 2020 government was initially reluctant to employ this governance arrangement, after almost two years of putting Council activities on hold it decided to update its composition. It remains to be seen if the Council will resume its role as the prime minister appears increasingly driven by pre-election incentives, disregarding strategic priorities.

More generally, though these strategic and advisory bodies take a long-term approach and offer viable policy solutions, their influence on governmental decision-making varies by policy issue. There is a certain gap between the long-term policy aims contained in various strategic documents and the actual practices of individual public sector organizations. In addition, politically important decisions are sometimes made without due consideration of strategic priorities and performance-monitoring, with strategic-planning documents and performance reports often playing little role in daily decision-making processes or the activities of street-level bureaucrats. The budget initiatives introduced by the new coalition parties and newly elected President Nausėda offer a clear example of how political changes and the approach of elections have driven fiscal and tax policies at the expense of strategic planning.
New Zealand
New Zealand has unique constitutional arrangements resulting in a significant concentration of power in the cabinet and a highly cohesive system of cabinet government. The core executive in New Zealand is organized according to new public-management approaches and methods. Most importantly, contracts are negotiated between ministers and chief executives. With the large number of government departments and ministers (26, with a further three undersecretaries), most of whom are responsible for several portfolios, taking a whole-of-government approach to policy development can be complex and time-consuming. In addition to this, since 1996, coalition governments and support party arrangements have meant that cabinet government, while still an essential aspect of the system, includes a multiparty dimension that can disrupt collective ministerial responsibility.

Recent governments have reacted to concerns about fragmentation by recentralizing the steering capacity of the core executive. The most important government departments involved in strategic planning and policy formation are the central agencies of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), the State Services Commission (SSC) and the Treasury. The DPMC consists of six units: the Cabinet Office, Government House, the Policy Advisory Group, the National Assessments Bureau, the Domestic and External Security Group, and the Corporate Services Unit. The Domestic and External Security Group played a key role in coordinating the government’s response to the Christchurch terrorist attack in March 2019.

All contracts (performance agreements and departmental statements of intent) support a cooperative and whole-of-government policy approach, though evaluation of the performance assessment of chief executives has a strong focus on departmental achievements. The prime minister can draw on only moderate strategic-planning capacity (in the form of the Policy Advisory Group) vis-à-vis ministers. Ad hoc groups, often including some outside expertise, are increasingly used to complement government agencies’ policy-advisory function.
Department of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet (DPMC). Annual Report 2018.
The strategic capacity of government has been enhanced over the past few years. Much of that capacity is found in the finance ministry where most of the long-term planning takes place. The main role of the Prime Minister’s Office is not so much long-term planning but more coordination within government.

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

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

The center-right government (2006 – 2014) invested considerable energy to increase coordination among government departments and improve steering of the executive agencies. The Social Democratic-Green governments (2014 onwards) have not made any sustained efforts in this respect.

Historically, policy-planning has been achieved to a large extent by the use of royal commissions. Most of these commissions were composed of elected officials and stakeholders. During the past decade or so, the quality of these commissions – particularly with regard to the quality of the studies they deliver and their capacity to generate consensus among major political actors and stakeholders as to policy goals and means – has deteriorated, as shown in a recent study published by the SNS. Many commissions today have very few members and are often dominated by civil servants. This has had a negative impact on those commissions’ final reports and the quality of the advice they produce as well as the political role of commissions as a forum in the policy process where compromises among the political parties can be negotiated.
Zetterberg, K. (2011), ”Det statliga kommittéväsendet: En del av den svenska modellen,” Svensk Juristtidning 8:753-763.

Svenska framtidsutmaningar. Slutrapport från regeringens framtidskommission (2013) (Stockholm: Statsrådsberedningen) (

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

Dahlström, C., E. Lundberg and K. Pronin (2019), Det statliga kommittéväsendets förändring 1990-2016. SNS Analys Rapport nr 59. (Stockholm: SNS).
The Dutch government has four strategic-planning units: the Scientific Council for Government Policy (Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regereingsbeleid, WRR), the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy (Centraal Plan Bureau, CPB), the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (Sociaal Cultureel Planbureau, SCP) and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Bureau (Planbureau voor de Leefbaarheid, PBL). All of these are formally part of a ministry, but their statutes guarantee them independent watchdog and advisory functions.

Long-term steering capacity has traditionally been strong in the areas of water management and the management of care – that is, in ensuring the maximum opportunity for good care for every eligible citizen, for an acceptable cost. In 2016, the Dutch Association for Public Administration called for the mobilization of more strategic knowledge and steering capacity in national governance. In 2019, evidence has accumulated that this call has to some extent been heeded. The most salient shift in long-tern governmental strategy has been to abandon the neoliberal policy model. At the end of 2018, a tax reduction for big corporations was still deemed to be a top priority, with the aim of creating a better investment environment. In 2019, however, concern definitely tilted toward addressing the stagnation in middle-class incomes despite five years of economic growth, and on ensuring that the burdens and costs imposed by the climate agreement would be shared fairly between corporations and consumers. After many years of discussion, a new pension agreement was reached because the government dropped its demands for a gradual but permanent increase in the age of pension eligibility. All this shows that the strategic shift has been more about consolidating and administrating care and social benefits than about fostering optimism and progress, as would be represented by investments in education or a substantial greening of the economy. Huge demonstrations by farmers and construction companies against a new nitrogen-emission rule (using tractors and heavy machinery to paralyze traffic) forced the government to change course; equally large demonstrations by teachers and students prompted only government resistance.

Planning units have released a flurry of new policy proposals, although though their data and policy recommendations, in the age of science skepticism, have been attacked by the political parties that normally rely on them for political debate and deliberation. These proposals have addressed the areas of pensions, population growth, most aspects of climate change (the Urgenda verdict, the new nitrogen-emissions rule, biodiversity in the Dutch natural environment), the future of Dutch agriculture, traffic infrastructure and mobility, the future of care as a social issue, the role of money and financial regulation, and labor-market regulatory reforms, to cite just a few.
R. Hoppe, 2014. Patterns of science/policy interaction in The Netherlands, in P. Scholten & F. van Nispen, Policy Analysis in the Netherlands, Policy Press, Bristol (ISBN 9781447313335)

P. Bloem et al., 2018. Designing a century ahead: climate-change adaptation in the Dutch Delta, in Policy & Society

CPB, CBS, SCP, PBL, Verkenning en Monitor Brede Welvaart (

NRC-Handelsblad, 17 September 2019. Dit zijn de opvallende plannen voor 2020 en verder.

NRC-Handelsblad, 19 September 2019. De ruk naar het dramaloze midden domineert.

K. Regtien, 10 June 2019. Mobiliteit in 2040. (Artikel Smart NL, accesses 3 November 2019)

M. Bussemaker, 15 February 2019. Zorg als social kwestie. Oratie (website Universiteit Leiden, accessed 3 November 2019)
Probably the most important government body for encouraging long-term strategic policy development is the Productivity Commission, which notionally provides advice to government on microeconomic policy, but which increasingly is asked to provide advice in other policy areas. The Productivity Commission conducts reviews and inquiries as directed by government, and also independently produces research reports. All advice and reports are released publicly in a timely fashion.

Within the federal public service, extensive use is made of committees to undertake strategic planning, and the activities of these committees generally peak immediately before and after the transition to a new government, and in the pre-budget period. The public service also maintains a single department, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, with the aim of coordinating and directing strategic planning across the government as a whole.

The coalition government rationalized the number of government departments and agencies shortly after coming into office in September 2013. The Community and Public Sector Union estimated that 18,000 public sector jobs were cut in the subsequent period as a result, reducing the strategic-planning capacity of the public service.

Productivity Commission:
The strategic capacity of the Austrian executive is limited by the lack of clear majorities in the federal parliament and in most of the state (provincial) parliaments. With some exceptions, no party can claim to have the mandate to implement a set of policies agreed to by a majority of voters and members of parliament. Rather, coalitions must be formed, a process with clear advantages and clear disadvantages. On the one hand, executive responsibility is blurred, as the presence of too many veto players prevents the development of consistent strategic capacity. On the other, coalitions enable a more inclusive government. Political decision-making in Austria is still characterized by a tendency to prefer a maximum of consensus, even at the price of postponing necessary decisions and shying away from taboos identified with the interests of special groups (such as public service unions or organized agrarian interests). Inter- and intra-party veto players have significant influence, and undermine strategic capacity.

Strategic-planning units and bodies consisting of public officials do exist within the ministries. The Federal Chancellery can be considered the principal strategic-planning unit, as it is responsible for coordinating the government’s various activities. However, it lacks the specialized personnel that would enable it to work as a comprehensive strategy unit and has no power to give instructions to other ministries.

In 2017 the coalition between SPÖ and ÖVP collapsed due to a change of leadership within the ÖVP. Consequently, the general election scheduled for 2018 had to be moved to October 2017. In 2019, the ÖVP-FPÖ coalition imploded due to the involvement of FPÖ leaders in a corruption scandal (the “Ibiza scandal”). Consequently, a new coalition (which will probably not be formed before 2020) will again redefine the government’s strategic planning approach. However, the formation of a new coalition will not change the structural weaknesses of a coalition government based on partners with conflicting interests.

The ÖVP-FPÖ coalition government, formed at the end of 2017, continued the strategy of centralizing the bureaucracy within the ministries by establishing “secretary generals” above the traditional structure. A secretary-general is only answerable to the minister, placing them above heads of departments. This structure, in some cases established before 2017, has become the overall principle within the whole government. The intention is to give the respective minister (through the secretary-general) direct control over the ministry. Whether this tendency toward internal centralization will be followed by the next government remains to be seen.
Each minister works closely with a team of collaborators in each ministerial cabinet. Each cabinet is usually large, with as many as 30 to 40 senior staff and experts. Meetings take place often, and the team designs policies in line both with the minister’s objectives and the government agreement. The minister and the advisory team are then responsible for drafting bill projects which are then submitted to the government in weekly meetings.

In terms of long-term planning, the knowledge accumulated by a minister’s collaborators can be lost at the end of a legislative period, as the ministerial team changes with the minister. Moreover, the frequency of staff rotation is generally high. In contrast, public administration is run by civil servants with longer tenures of office, but these groups do not generally take part in strategic ministerial decisions. Long-term planning (beyond a legislative term) is therefore made difficult. The main rationale for relying on the minister’s team instead of civil servants is that the former are the minister’s (and the party’s) close aides and tend to be more flexible in terms of working hours and availability for emergency situations.

The federal Planning Bureau (Bureau du Plan/Planbureau) does play a role in providing longer strategic-planning options, but in general it is the ministerial cabinets that are the main movers of legislative efforts.
The president has the ability to ask for and ensure strategic planning, whether through formal or informal channels. Line ministries, most notably the Ministry of Finance, and the president’s advisory ministry (Secretaría General de la Presidencia, Segpres), have considerable influence in strategic-planning processes. Meetings between strategic-planning staff and the head of government are held frequently. However, no long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions is necessarily presented – these are either limited in scope or depth of impact depending on the topic. Strategic planning, policy planning and regulatory reforms, budget planning, and ex ante evaluation of government policies and public-investment programs are carried out by specialist units and departments inside the various ministries. While there is no explicit multi-year budget planning process in place in Chile, this takes place implicitly due to the fiscal rule that (by law) links overall government expenditure to forward-looking estimates of long-term government revenue, based on growth trends and copper-price projections. These forecasts are provided in a transparent way by specialist budgetary commissions comprised of academic and private sector experts (mostly professional economists).
The supporting structures of the government in Estonia are mainly located in the line ministries. The Government Office (GO) is quite limited in this respect, though there is a Strategy Unit within the GO, which mainly has a consulting function. Its main tasks are to support the composition of strategic-development plans, to coordinate and draw up the government’s action plan, and monitor the implementation of the above-mentioned policy documents.

In addition to the Strategy Unit, there is also a Prime Minister’s Bureau, comprised of experts in various policy areas who advise the prime minister. Different from the Strategy Unit, this body is closely linked to the prime minister’s political party and its members change with each new prime minister.

In 2017, a Foresight Center was established by the parliament to carry out long-term social and economic analyses, and draft development scenarios. The center consults parliamentary committees, but has only an implicit linkage to the executive.
There is some evidence that Irish policymakers improved their strategic-planning capacity since the period in the immediate aftermath of the crisis. The annual reports on the Programme for Government detail a more coherent strategic approach to policymaking and increased use of advisory bodies.

However, independent advice is not always followed. Popular pressures for increased spending and tax reductions influenced government decisions in the 2016 budget, reflecting the proximity of a general election. The Fiscal Advisory Council and the Economic and Social Research Institute have urged the government to devote more of the revenue gains arising from the recent economic improvement to a faster reduction of the budget deficit, at the expense of lower taxes and increased spending. However, the imposition of limits on mortgage lending during 2015, intended to moderate the rise in home prices, is a welcome example of unpopular but prudent strategic thinking.

During the 2011 to 2016 government and current minority government, detailed reports were published by the government monitoring annual progress on implementing the Programme for Government.

While coalition agreements have been increasingly monitored, especially since the innovations of the 1992 – 1997 coalition government, concerning the much greater use of special advisers and program managers, more recently governments have been publishing annual monitoring reports on the coalition program. These are very detailed annual reports, some much longer than the original coalition agreement. For example, the 2011 Programme for Government which was the coalition policy document on which the 2011– 2016 government was based totaled 23,172 words. Five annual monitoring reports were published during the life of this government, ranging from 15,793 to 43,774 words and averaging 30,000 words.
Strategic planning units are located under the Prime Minister’s Office, and include the National Economic Council, the National Security Council and the Policy-Planning Department. The most prominent step taken by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has been the annual publication of the Governmental Plan Book.

The book offers a review of the Israeli government’s strategic planning units. In 2019, the PMO described its updated version of the book as the continuation of the government’s efforts to translate government policy into measurable and comparable goals across all policy fields and government offices. In previous years, the government consulted and connected with professionals via roundtables. The government adopted this system in 2008 and has since organized a series of policy-planning roundtables. This started as a PMO initiative to bring together experts from the public, private and third sectors. These meetings allow the government to ask for advice from different experts. However, since 2017, the government has reduced its use of roundtables, preferring instead to use online tools and systems, such as digital forums and Q&A platforms that link various government offices and professionals. These online services allow for faster day-to-day communication, with the final goal to phase out the use of roundtables in the near future.
“A guide for government planning,” The department for policy planning, September 2010 (Hebrew)

Arlozorov, Merav, “Serious, Ambitious, and Improving: Some Good Words on Netanyahu’s Government,” The Marker, 5.3.2017,

Cross-Sector round Table, Ministry of Education, 2018 (Hebrew),

Government ICT Authority, Action Plan for years 2018-2019 (Hebrew),

Government ICT Authority, Open Government Action Plan for 2018-2019, 2018,

The Government ICT Authority 2019-2021 Strategic Plan, 2019, (Hebrew):

“Government releases 2017-2018 work plan,” Ynet reporters, 03.05.2017,,7340,L-4930776,00.html

Loten, Tomer, “The Governmental Planning Reform is Now Complete: Now is the time for an Implementation Reform.” The Marker, 27.3.2017,

“Policy departments – auxiliary tool for navigation,” the Reut institute 11.6.2008.
Policy Planning round tables, PMO office, June 2016 (Hebrew), (Hebrew)

Round Tables: why did we stop them?, Tuvanot (Insight), 2019,

Round Tables in the PMO, Sheatufim, 2019

Working Plan Book 2017-18, PMO Office, March 2017: (Hebrew)

Working Plan Book 2018-2019, PMO Office, February 2018 (Hebrew),

Working Plan Book 2019-2020, PMO Office, Feburary 2019 (Hebrew),
Each government ministry has a director and unit responsible for strategy and planning. These are strongest in the Ministry of Finance, the Malta Planning Authority, the Malta Transport Authority, the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs, and the Education Ministry. However, the number of strategic planning commissions has mushroomed in recent years. In 2015, a new unit focused on information and the implementation of standards was introduced in the office of the prime minister to facilitate coordination between various stakeholders when implementing projects. Strategic planning has been boosted by the government’s efforts to reduce public debt. The National Statistics Office has also been reformed. Over the last year, the influence of strategic planning units over fiscal and education policy has increase. A Budget Implementation unit also monitors the implementation of policies with relevance to the budget. In the last year, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) and the Malta Police Force have been overhauled. A special cabinet committee was set up to review constitutional reform, and a committee composed of representatives from the civil service, the Health Ministry and the Finance Ministery has been set up to review the Vital Hospital deal.

Within ministries, the permanent secretary is responsible for developing strategy, including identifying key performance indicators, and determining timeline and budgets. Strategic plans normally run over three-, four- or five-year cycles and are often developed in the course of consultation with internal and external stakeholders. Internationally recognized benchmarking methodologies are used to track progress. Ministries increasingly employ consultants to produce reports on current policy issues, a practice that may be regarded as forward planning. The Management Efficiency Unit coordinates separate ministry plans and the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA), which reviews government IT requirements, also assists. Usually when a policy is to be reformed or updated a strategic plan is released for consultation. It has been proposed that the annual government budget be instead shifted to a multi-year time-frame to ensure a greater degree of continuity and long-term planning.
Caleja Ragonesi I., Maltese Presidency aims to make the ordinary extraordinary. Europe’s Word January 2017
Strategic Plan 2017-2020 Academy for disciplined forces Malta
Mobile Government Strategy 2017-2018ffddddf
Ufficcju tal – prim Ministru, Rapport Annwali 2015
The Mexican president is required by law to produce a strategic plan in his first year in office. At a lower level, there are quite a few planning units within the Mexican government, though they do not all have decisive input in the policymaking process. Longer-term, Mexico has committed itself to the SDGs and created a specialized technical committee involving 25 federal agencies, which will collect the statistical information required to monitor progress.

Strategic planning was most prominent in the 1960s, 70s and 80s; in the latter decade no fewer than three former planning ministers moved up to the presidency of Mexico. In more general terms, a “passion for planning” stems from the origins of the Institutional Revolutionary Party regime and its corporatist structures within a mixed economy. Mainly as a consequence of market-oriented reforms, the role of planning entities has declined since the late 1980s. This was partly the result of Mexico becoming an export-oriented economy, but also because planning itself was a failure during this period, with Mexico too bound to international economic trends to successfully implement planning decisions.

Planning has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. The major challenge to planning in Mexico, and Latin America more generally, consists in creating sufficiently tight links between the agencies responsible for planning, the implementing agencies and powerful interest groups. The implementation of several highly significant recent reforms have put Mexico’s planning skills to the test. This includes the implementation of anti-corruption laws and reforms in the social sector, education reform as well as in energy and telecommunications.

The current Mexican president has an extraordinarily high level of legitimacy. Elected by more than 53% of Mexicans, with a majority in Congress and high approval rates (67% in November 2019), he has initiated a wide-ranging transformation of Mexico. First, he repealed several reforms of the former government, such as the education reform. Second, he stopped infrastructure projects, like the new Mexico City Texcoco Airport. In addition, AMLO has created new social programs and announced plans to revive the Mexican oil industry. He has also pledged to demilitarize the war on drugs, a strategy which has so far failed. The strategic planning involved in these announcements has been concentrated in the presidency, less in strategic planning units and bodies.
Significant strategic planning takes place in the course of governmental decision-making. The Ministry of Finance is a key actor in the long-term planning process, and also presents views during the annual budget cycle on how best to cope with long-term economic challenges and the financing of the welfare state.

The typical procedure for major decisions or reforms entails the following steps: First, the government appoints an ad hoc committee tasked with delivering a detailed report on a particular issue. Some of these committees are composed exclusively of experts, while others have a broader membership that includes politicians and representatives of interested parties such as unions, business confederations and other non-governmental organizations.

For instance, a report to the Ministry of Finance would typically be drafted by high-profile academic economists along with representatives of unions, employers and the central bank. When this procedure leads to legislative action, a proposal is drafted and distributed to interested parties, who are invited to make comments and suggestions (a period of three months for comments is recommended, and six weeks is the minimum period allowed).

Only after comments have been received will the government prepare a proposal for parliament, sometimes in the form of a parliamentary bill, but occasionally only as an initial white paper. Governments deviate from this procedure only in cases of emergency, and any attempt to circumvent it would lead to public criticism.

There is an established procedure for the approval of the annual budget. Activity starts a year in advance, when the government holds three conferences on the budget proposal. The finance minister presents an initial proposal to parliament in the first week of October. A parliamentary committee plays an active role in the budget process, making concrete proposals for the distribution of resources. This proposal becomes the basis of parliamentary discussion. After the parliament approves a proposal for the allocation of resources, it becomes binding for subsequent, more detailed discussions that take place in various parliamentary committees. By December 15, this work is concluded and the final budget is approved by the full parliament.

The shortcomings in governance that were revealed in the course of the July 22 terrorist attacks and their aftermath have resulted in a general downgrade in the scores associated with executive capacity. However, these shortcomings have been mostly rectified in the past several years.

In addition to these procedures, it is customary that long-term reforms are agreed in the coalition government’s negotiating platforms. However, in these negotiations, political ideas and visions are more prominent than evidence-based assessments.
South Korea
Strategic planning remains an important factor in South Korean governance. The office of the president includes a senior secretary and two secretaries for the president for state affairs. President Moon launched the State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee in May 2017. This commission is comprised of key departments specializing in policy and administration, the economy, diplomacy and security, and policy planning. A total of 30 members play an advisory role in assisting the new government in reviewing the structure, function and budget of each government organization. Commission members also help to identify key policies that the government will pursue, and help develop medium and long-term plans to carry out the policies. The plan submitted by the State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee contains policy recommendations to be pursued over the next five years of the Moon administration. The plan includes a national vision of “a Nation of the People, a Just Republic of Korea,” along with 100 concrete policy goals. However, the Moon government has publicized several of the plan’s policies through the Blue House without coordinating the plans with related ministries. Overall, key policies recommended by the committee have not been successful, and its public presence has declined.
Citations: Policy Roadmap of the Moon Jae-in Administration. July 19, 2017. President Moon Unveils Five-year Policy Agenda. July 19, 2017. President Launches Advisory Committee on State Affairs. May 22, 2017.
The idea of reinforcing long-term thinking and smarter policymaking has drawn increasing political attention in Spain during the crisis. Several key areas including economic policy (structural reforms), security and external action, are addressed through strategic documents that receive annual evaluations. However, political instability since 2015 has undermined the government’s strategic-planning capacities.

During 2018 and 2019, sectoral strategies have been published or announced in the areas of foreign policy, cybersecurity, the pensions system, poverty reduction and gender equality. The Prime Minister’s Office, which is the central actor for the government strategic planning, has been reinforced and new policy units (the High Commissioner for Combating Child Poverty and the High Commissioner for the Agenda 2030) have been established, helping to bolster the government’s priorities and expertise. However, since April 2019, Spain’s caretaker government has had very limited room for maneuver. The powers of the caretaker government are regulated by Title 4, 1997 Government Act, which establishes that the duties of the caretaker government should be limited to the ordinary office of public affairs. The act also establishes explicit limitations on the prime minister, preventing the prime minister from approving the General Budget Bill or presenting bills to the parliament.
Vozpopuli, October 2019, España cumple 425 días en funciones en tres años y medio y se acerca al récord de Bélgica,

Government Act, Art 21. Del Gobierno en funciones.
The central-government reform of the Koizumi government in 2001 strengthened the role of lead institutions considerably. The unit officially in charge of “policy planning and comprehensive policy coordination on crucial and specific issues in the cabinet” is the Cabinet Office (Naikaku-fu), which assists the prime minister and his cabinet. It is supported by a well-staffed Cabinet Secretariat (Naikaku-kanbō). The Cabinet Office also coordinates a number of policy councils including the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy. While there is a certain amount of overlap between councils concerning strategic issues, the councils have at least contributed to informing the governmental and public discourses in a constructive manner. Whereas individual line ministries have strategic-planning units staffed with mid-ranking officials, their actual influence on long-term planning seems to be limited compared to the clout of bureau chiefs and more senior officials such as administrative vice-ministers. Policy-planning units tend to have very few staff members.

Prime Minister Abe’s reliance on the same chief cabinet secretary since 2012 has greatly contributed to strengthening the role of the Cabinet Office as a strategic-planning unit, as it has come to dominate fields even such as foreign policy. However, the power rests with the leading politicians rather than the bureaucrats involved.
Harutaka Takenaka, Institutional Foundation for the Abe Government’s Political Power, Japan Foreign Policy Forum, No. 49, October 2018,

Dmitry Filippov, How Shinzo Abe Is Changing Japan’s Foreign Policy Apparatus, The Diplomat, 13 December 2018,
Although the United Kingdom has one of the most centralized political systems and is one of the long-established liberal democracies in the world, the resources directly available to the prime minister are relatively limited compared with those available to other heads of government. Formally, there is no prime ministerial department to provide strategic planning or advice, although the Cabinet Office provides an important coordinating role across government and its head, the cabinet secretary, attends cabinet meetings. The cabinet secretary is also the head of the civil service, after the two roles were separated under the previous coalition government, and chairs the quarterly Projects Commissioning Board. In 2014, the post of chief executive of the civil service was created with the incumbent becoming a permanent secretary of the Cabinet Office in 2015. The Projects Commissioning Board works closely with the Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat (EDS), established in summer 2015, which fosters future and innovative projects. Generally, the Civil Service has undergone substantial modernization and professionalization over the past decade.

At a political level, a special advisory unit has supported all recent prime ministers. Special advisers and civil servants staff these advisory units. The remit of the Number 10 Policy Unit is defined by the prime minister but tends to focus on strategic political and policy decisions. In 2012, the prime minister and deputy prime minister established a dedicated Implementation Unit within the Cabinet Office, charged with driving implementation in areas deemed to be of high priority and now reinforced by the creation of implementation task forces to oversee the delivery of policy initiatives.

However, these structures in some cases diminished the executive’s ability for strategic planning. The quarrels within the second May cabinet, which blocked most pressing policy decisions, and the fruitless efforts of Prime Minister May to tame her own ministers laid bare the inherent deficits of an excessively loose organization of executive power. The situation further deteriorated after May’s bitter resignation. The new prime minister, Boris Johnson, and his chief special adviser, Dominic Cummings, quickly adopted a strategy that combined opacity with confrontation, alleging that Parliament worked against “the people.” Without a majority in the House of Commons and without a public strategy for the government, this resulted in what many observers considered to be close to a constitutional crisis.

Institute for Government (2014) Whitehall Monitor 2014 A data-driven analysis of the size, shape and performance of Whitehall (
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.
The most important systematic strategic-planning process is related to the requirements of EU membership and the necessity of preparing strategy and programs within the EU framework. These include the convergence program, the reform program as a part of the European Union’s 2020 strategy, and concrete strategical considerations justifying the setting of priorities for EU funds absorption. Under the macroeconomic imbalances procedure of the European Union, which categorizes Bulgaria as a country with imbalances, Bulgaria is obliged to integrate specific European Commission recommendations into the development of policy strategies.

There are national strategies on security, energy, governance and development of water resources, development of scientific research, Roma integration, physical education and sport, which serve for some long-term orientation. These strategies have been prepared in coordination with various ministries and on the basis of extensive discussions with the relevant expert communities. They are overseen by the line ministries and parliamentary committees responsible for these policy areas. Presently, the Council of Ministers’ portal for public consultations lists 160 “active” strategic documents relating to the national level. More than 20 of them were updated or created in 2019, and six have a time horizon extending beyond 2025.
Strategic documents at the national level (a list of documents in Bulgarian), available at:
There is no central body coordinating strategic planning in Czechia; however, several strategic frameworks exist. A medium-term perspective is provided by the government’s policy manifesto, which is presented to the Chamber of Deputies for a vote of confidence. In April 2017, the government approved the Czechia 2030 strategic framework, which sets long-term priorities for the development of the country. The document, which built on the 2010 Strategic Framework for Sustainable Development, sets out the direction of development for the next decade in order to help the country achieve development which is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable and to improve the quality of life for the Czech population in all regions.
French governments commonly refer to ad hoc committees tasked with providing information on crucial issues. In some cases, a report is requested from a single person. Committee members are mainly high-level civil servants, former or active politicians and academics, and often are chosen on the basis of their sympathy to the government in office at the time. Some reports are made public but others remain unpublished, in particular when the report’s proposals appear too provocative to be accepted by social partners. This situation raises the concern that opportunism may prevail over real strategic planning.

Each minister is entitled to recruit 10 so-called cabinet members, usually young political appointees who are tasked with providing policy advice. However, short-term considerations are usually more important than strategic planning in this regard. In addition, some portfolios have high levels of ministerial turnover of ministers, making long-term planning impossible outside of senior civil servants’ ability to carry through their own bureaucratic agendas.

The only bodies that take a long-term view in terms of strategic planning are bureaucratic departments, such as those in the finance, transport, environment and foreign affairs ministries. The committee of economic advisers attached to the prime minister’s office produces reports on its own initiative or at the office’s request. Its impact on actual policymaking is limited, however. The Court of Accounts, whose reports often serve as the starting point of reforms, is taking on a growing importance with regard to long-term policymaking. Its annual and special reports are attracting increasing attention from public authorities and the media.

France Stratégie, an interesting think tank attached to the prime minister, has recently developed into a body of strategic planning and policy evaluation, although its impact on governmental policy is uncertain for the time being. OECD reports are not part of national strategic planning, but they are rather influential as they compare countries’ performances and capacities to adjust to future challenges.
Since September 2017, the government has been led by Germany’s two most important political parties: the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD).The former CDU/CSU and SPD government showed comparatively little interest in improving the strategic planning of the Chancellery or federal government. However, the new government rearranged the organizational structure of the Chancellery, and introduced a new section (“Abteilung 6”) for political planning, innovation and digital politics, thus expanding the total number of sections from six to seven. The head of the new section is Eva Christiansen, who is also Chancellor Merkel’s media adviser.

Head of the Chancellery Helge Braun was previously coordinator for relations between the central government and the Länder. His current role has the status of a minister without portfolio, strengthening his position vis-á-vis the minister-presidents of the federal states and the heads of the federal ministries. The Chancellery is constantly expanding, and currently has more than 600 staff members. Despite the new planning section in the Chancellery, planning is neither well developed nor a well-integrated part of the politics and policies of the new government; indeed, it is not accorded a high priority by the federal government overall.

One handicap with regard to developing a strategic policy approach is that the government is strongly influenced by party considerations, with all major political decisions determined in negotiations between the heads of the governing parties. Consequently, most governmental decisions are negotiated between the heads of the three parties that make up the current government (the CDU, CSU and SPD) rather than between members of the government. This practice results in a “party politicization” of the government that undermines strategic planning. In addition, Chancellor Merkel’s leadership style can be described as time-oriented reactivity, which precludes goal- and future-oriented planning.

At the end of the review period, conflicts between the coalition partners had increased in intensity, and the parties’ strategies for the next elections were becoming increasingly important. In addition, internal party conflicts are becoming stronger, impeding attempts to improve strategic planning. However, at the beginning of November 2019, the governing parties negotiated a detailed midterm review concerning the implementation of their coalition agreement.
Strategic planning has long proved difficult for the central government in Athens thanks in large part to the archipelago-like character of governance involving conflicting political interests, clientelism and a highly formalistic administrative culture that fosters segmentation. Weak horizontal coordination within and among ministries, government agencies and state-owned companies make matters worse.

Strategic planning was included, at least for the period from 2015 to 2018, in the Third Memorandum of Understanding signed between Greece and its creditors. Progress was noted in August 2018 upon completion of this memorandum. For example, the Independent Public Revenue Authority was established and the authorities made progress in adopting a General Transport Master Plan, covering all transport modes (i.e., road, railway, maritime, air and multi-modal), including logistical aspects.

In early 2018, the government released a post-bailout development strategy (entitled “Greece: A Growth Strategy for the Future”). The strategy was revised twice by the European Commission before its public presentation and is divided into five chapters: Fiscal Viability, Sustainable Development, Structural Conditions for Growth, Just Development without Exclusion, and Funding of Development. The strategy was criticized by the opposition as more of a wish list than an integrated plan for the country to regain its footing. However, in its last year in power, the Syriza-ANEL government was preoccupied with the day-to-day management of the state and did not begin implementation of any long-term development strategy. Thus, the coalition government did not follow a long-term plan, but instead engaged in experiments in various policy sectors such as employment, higher education, culture and sports.

A shift occurred after the national elections of July 2019, in which the Syriza-ANEL coalition lost to the center-right New Democracy party. In August 2019, the newly elected single-party majority government passed a new law aiming to reorganize the government and the upper echelons of the central public administration. The law aimed to strengthen the civil service rather than the central government’s line-ministry functions; reduced the number of political appointee posts (which the previous government had allowed to mushroom); and provided for new, non-political general secretary posts responsible for day-to-day management of the individual ministries. The new law had not been fully implemented by the end of 2019, but overall, the shift to a less politicized higher civil service focused on planning and programming tasks raised hopes for better steering of the Greek state.
Greece: A Growth Strategy for the Future
Motivated by EU demands, as well as by the objective of improving the country’s absorption and use of EU funds, the planning capacities of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister (Kancelaria Prezesa Rady Ministrów, KPRM) were expanded following EU accession. The PiS government has relied on this framework and has developed its own long-term Strategy for Responsible Development. This program was presented by the then-serving Minister of Development Mateusz Morawiecki in February 2016 and has since been refined. When Morawiecki became prime minister, a new Center for Strategic Analysis was created in the Chancellery. Ultimately, however, policymaking under the PiS government has been guided by the visions and inspirations of PiS party leader Jarosław Kaczyński.
There have been virtually no changes with regard to strategic capacity. While there are strategic planning bodies in most ministries, their impact remains limited. The prime minister’s advisory cabinet is more influential, but it has to deal with a number of day-to-day demands in addition to offering a long-term view on policy challenges and viable solutions. Immediate issues tend to gain precedence over long-term policy planning. The government’s minority status, which makes it dependent on the parliamentary support of three other parties in the parliament, has not contributed to an increase in strategic planning. Furthermore, the fact that the period under review was an election year further weakened the capacity for strategic planning, as ministers’ attentions were inevitably drawn to the election.
Strategic planning is not given significant weight in Switzerland. It is further rendered difficult by the fact that the country has a quasi-presidential political system (meaning the government cannot be voted out of office by the parliament) with a collegial government, a strong non-professional element, a consociational decision-making structure, a strong corporatist relationship between a weak federal state and outside interest organizations, and considerable uncertainty deriving from the system of direct democracy. Compared with other advanced democracies, strategic planning in Switzerland is underdeveloped and, constrained by the governmental and federal structure and the logics of direct democracy, it is rather inefficient.

The Swiss government is not strictly speaking a parliamentary government and does not have a policy agenda comparable to a “normal” parliamentary government. Furthermore, all seven members of the government have equal rights and powers; there is no prime minister. The president of the government is primus inter pares. He or she is not leader of the government in the sense of a prime minister.

Strategic planning is the task of the Federal Chancellery, the central coordinating body of the federal administration. Strategic planning in this context involves: identifying the current legislative period’s major challenges; describing the legislative period’s major goals and instruments; specifying the goals for the current year; and exercising accountability by providing parliament with annual reports.
Schedler, Kuno 2019: Strategische Staatsführung und Steuerungsinstrumente –wie können Regierung und Exekutive strategisch führen?, in: Ritz, Adrian, Theo Haldemann and Fritz Sager (eds.): Blackbox Exekutive. Regierungslehre in der Schweiz, Zürich: NZZ Libro, 285-305
Vatter, Adrian. 2018. Das Politische System Der Schweiz. Grundlagen, Institutionen Und Vergleich, 3rd edition, Baden-Baden: Nomos (UTB).
Strategic management within Turkish public administration faces several challenges. Public institutions in general have insufficient strategic-management capacity. Strategic plans, performance programs, budgets and activity reports are prepared with little, if any, coordination. Although a total of 890 internal auditors are employed across 382 public institutions, the Turkish public administration as a whole has failed to develop an effective internal-audit system. There is no relationship between political strategy documents and lower-level policy materials, and little coordination between associated institutions. Difficulties in gaining access to relevant information within public administrative bodies and insufficient human resource capacities are additional major contributors to this failure. There are also no cumulative statistics on the frequency of meetings between strategic-planning staff members and government heads. In general, these meetings are held once a year and during budget negotiations. However, there is no harmony between strategic plans and governmental decisions.

During the review period, the 2016 – 2019 National e-Government Strategy and Action Plan was prepared. The plan envisages an integrated, technological, participatory, innovative and high-quality effective e-government ecosystem, and takes into account national and international considerations.

Under the new presidential system of government, the Head of Strategy and Budget is affiliated with the Presidential Office. The 2019 Annual Plan of the Presidency stated that efforts are underway to strengthen and align the budget with the policies of the high policy documents and the objectives and targets of the strategic plans in a holistic approach. The results of these attempts remain to be seen.
European Commission, Turkey 2019 Report, Brussels, 29.5.2019, report.pdf (accessed 1 November 2019)

Kamu İdarelerince Hazırlanacak Stratejik Planlara Dair Tebliğ, Resmi Gazete, 30 April 2015, (accessed 1 November 2018)

TC Hazine ve Maliye Bakanlığı, Yeni Orta Vadeli Program, Dengeleme – Disiplin – Değişim, 2019-2021,,yeni-ekonomi-programipdf.pdf?0 (accessed 27 October 2018)

2019 Yılı Cumhurbaşkanlığı Programı, (accessed 27 October 2018)

Sait Aşgın ve Kemal Yaman, “Türkiye’de Bakanlıkların Stratejik Plan Uygulamalarında Mevcut Yapı ve Sürecin Değerlendirilmesi,” International Journal of Academic Value Studies, 4(19), 2018: 449-466.
The U.S. government has a number of units that analyze policy issues and make long-term projections as part of the assessment of current options. The Executive Office of the President has multiple staffs and agencies tasked with analyzing various policy issues. On the legislative side, the Congressional Budget Office analyzes the 10-year fiscal impact of all bills with budget implications. Expertise about long-term considerations is available in abundance, in the agencies, Congress and the White House.

In most areas of government and policy, President Trump has shown virtually no interest in long-range planning, professional expertise or even organized, careful deliberation. Economists are notably absent among his high-level economic advisers and appointees. In national security policy, he has favored senior military officers, but often relied on his own untutored preferences and impulses. His administration has essentially eschewed any conventionally organized advisory and decision-making processes.

In Congress, the Republican leadership has sought to overcome popular resistance to its major policies on healthcare and taxes by avoiding public hearings or bipartisan discussion of any kind. Instead, bills are drafted in secret within Republican task forces and brought to a vote with the expectation that party members will toe the line. Republican leaders have tried to prevent the “scoring” of legislative proposals by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which assess the budgetary implications of bills over the next 10 years.

The vast majority of government departments and agencies have witnessed devastating losses of high-level staff, both because the Trump White House has failed to make political appointments to many positions and because long-serving civil service experts have left agencies due to pressure or discouragement.
Since joining the European Union in 2013, strategic-planning capacity in Croatia has increased substantially, in part due to the learning process that took place during the accession period, but also thanks to Croatia’s inclusion in the EU strategic-planning exercise organized within the framework of the European Semester. Moreover, many local and regional self-government units have realized that success in drawing EU funds largely depends on the quality of strategic planning.

Despite the introduction of new institutional and procedural arrangements, policymaking in Croatia continues to be dominated by short-term political interests. Strategic decisions are still very often made pro forma, lack political support and end up being shelved. Also, in numerous cases, strategies are inconsistent and lack some of the elements that strategic documents should contain. A good case in point has been the fate of the National Development Strategy 2030, announced by the second Plenković government as an umbrella strategy. Back in 2017/18, interest associations and ordinary citizens were invited to provide their input with much acclaim. Originally announced for June 2019, however, the strategy is yet to be completed, and the government and other key stakeholders have gradually stopped referring to it. As Croatia has now entered a long electoral cycle – with presidential elections in December 2019/January 2020, followed by parliamentary elections planned for autumn 2020 and local elections in 2021 – daily politics has trumped long-term strategic planning.
Petak, Z. (2018) Policy-Making Context and Challenges of Governance in Croatia, in: Z. Petak, K. Kotarski (eds.), Policy-Making at the European Periphery: The Case of Croatia. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 29-45.
With reforms launched in 2014, the government began integrating strategic planning into administrative practices, a key omission over previous years. To this effect, the Directorate General for European Programs, Coordination and Development (DGEPCD) was assigned with competences such as planning, coordination, monitoring, and the evaluation of implementation. However, the Directorate’s work was limited to only part of the intended tasks. Decisive powers remained with the Ministry of Finance.

The law on fiscal responsibility adopted in 2014 aimed at enabling the government to identify goals and design policy actions based on strategic planning. Its implementation has been slow, as it needed to achieve the required capacity and planning skills as well as stronger political will. Planning remains fragmented between ministries, but capacity levels have improved and most central government services are involved. In the absence of a central coordination body, planning is dominated by the budgetary and fiscal considerations of the Ministry of Finance. Additionally, coherent strategic planning is sometimes compromised by ad hoc policies, such as the citizenship-by-investment scheme.
1. Directorate of Strategy, Coordination, & Communication, Cyprus Ministry of Finance,
The concept of strategic planning is not particularly developed in Italian governmental and administrative culture. This is in part due to the fact that governments have been predominantly preoccupied with coalition problems and that the administration is still very much guided by a legalistic culture. Nevertheless, some progress has been made under recent governments. Recent government programs have been more detailed, and have become significant instruments for organizing and planning government activity. Within the government office (called the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, or Presidenza del Consiglio), a special department guided by a minister without portfolio has been created to oversee the implementation of this program. This department produces regular reports on the program’s implementation status.

The first Conte cabinet was in a somewhat peculiar position, supported as it was by two parties (the Five Star Movement and the Northern League) with rather different programs that had to be welded together into a rather formal and rigid government “contract,” and with a prime minister that wielded little political clout compared to the two deputy prime ministers (and coalition-party leaders). This configuration left little space for a policy focused strategic planning. During its first two months in office, the second Conte government showed little improvement with regard to strategic planning.

The financial aspect of strategic planning has historically been somewhat more developed, as the Treasury has to implement rigorous budgetary-stability goals, and works within a triennial perspective.
The country’s small size and the consequently small size of its administration do not allow for sufficient strategic planning. Only a few public bodies offer simulations, such as the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies Luxembourg (STATEC) and the General Inspectorate of Social Security (Inspection Générale de la Sécurité Sociale, IGSS). The State Economic and Social Council (Conseil économique et social) and the merged public research institute, the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER), offer more qualitative analyses. The research department of the central bank (Banque Centrale du Luxembourg) and the general inspectorate of the financial sector (Commission de surveillance du secteur financier, CSSF) focus on economics and finance planning. While these institutions are state-financed, they are nevertheless insufficiently equipped to offer long-term planning activities. For instance, State Economic and Social Council reports are partially written by civil servants from the relevant ministry departments. Strategic planning is mostly performed by institutions abroad, which offer the advantage of independence and guidance via international standards. Once a report is submitted, negotiations begin between the minister and promoters; the final compromise is a draft of the project, designed abroad.
“Autres acteurs.” Le portail des statistiques du Luxembourg. Accessed 20 Oct. 2019.

Banque centrale du Luxembourg. Accessed 20 Oct. 2019.

Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier. Accessed 20 Oct. 2019.

Conseil économique et social. Accessed 19 Oct. 2019.

Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research. Accessed 23 Oct. 2018.
European Commission: Public administration characteristics and performance in EU28:Luxembourg, Luxembourg 2018.
The institutional capacity for strategic planning in Slovakia is weak. Capacities for planning in the ministries are limited, and there is no central policy-planning unit in the Government Office. The fragmented nature and the rigid departmentalism of public administration in the country have complicated strategic planning. So has the high degree of staff turnover which, driven as it is by a politicized public administration, limits the continuity of institutional expertise. The strengthening of the expertise of the Government Office and the creation of the Council for Solidarity and Development, an advisory body, under the second Fico government have failed to improve planning capacities in any substantial way. Since the government reshuffle in March 2018, the institutional capacity for strategic planning has not been improved.
The institutional capacity for strategic planning in Slovenia is rather weak. Capacities for planning in the ministries are limited, and there is no central policy-planning unit in the Government Office. After assuming office, the Cerar government announced that it would expand planning capacities. However, save for the adoption in December 2017 of the strategic framework for policymaking, the Slovenian Development Strategy 2030, the Cerar government achieved little in the way of progress. The Šarec government has done nothing to improve strategic planning.
Government of the Republic of Slovenia (2017): Slovenian Development Strategy 2030. Ljubljana (
The Orbán governments have subordinated all political actions to the goal of consolidating their power and have reacted to problems and challenges on a day-to-day basis, without reference to an over-reaching plan. The economic and fiscal priorities have frequently shifted, and not much effort has been invested in building institutional capacities for strategic planning. Since the 2018 elections, the government has begun preparing a long-term technocratic modernization project to be managed by the newly created the Ministry for Innovation and Technology (ITM).
Long-term strategic planning in Iceland is often vague, with comparatively weak execution, supervision, and revision of plans. When specific objectives are established in the policy-planning phase, a lack of sufficient incentives or institutional mechanisms typically limits their realization. As a result, the government can delay or change strategic plans. For example, parliament approves a strategic regional policy every four years (Stefnumótandi byggðaáætlun), but – as this plan has the status of a parliamentary resolution and not legal status – the government has no binding obligation to implement the plan. Consequently, only certain aspects of these four-year plans have ever been implemented.

Policymaking is monitored by cabinet ministers who rely on their respective ministerial staff for advice and assistance.
Special Investigation Committee (SIC) (2010), Report of the Special Investigation Commission (SIC), report delivered to parliament 12 April.

Parliamentary resolution on a strategic regional plan for the period 2018 – 2024.
Accessed 17th October 2019.
While EU membership has forced the Romanian government to produce regular strategic documents, and despite Romania’s 2018 National Reform Program having declared strategic planning a key priority for the government, policymaking in Romania still lacks strategic planning. In March 2019, parliament adopted “Romania 2040,” which outlines a long-term national social and economic development strategy that is coordinated by a multi-stakeholder commission (Commisia Romania 2040) and elaborated by a council (Consiliul de Programare Economica si Comisia Nationala de Strategie si Prognoza) that would advise government policy for years to come. In June 2019, however, the Constitutional Court rejected “Romania 2040” criticizing the substitution of the parliament by the commission. Critics also noted that the strategy had been pushed by PSD head Dragnea so that a smaller PSD-controlled commission would adopt the national budget for the years to come instead of parliament.
Romanian Government (2018): National Reform Program 2018. Bucharest (
In practice, there are no units and bodies taking a long-term view of policy challenges and viable solutions.
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