Interministerial Coordination

 

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

EUOECD
 
Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
10
Estonia
Formal procedures of coordinating policy proposals are set in the rules of the national government. According to it, all relevant ministries must be consulted and involved in a consensus-building process before an amendment or policy proposal can be brought to the government. In addition to this formal procedure, senior civil servants from the various ministries consult and inform each other about coming proposals; deputy secretaries general are key persons in this informal consultation process.
Finland
Cabinet meetings are prepared by ministry officials and civil servants. Findings from a large-scale analysis several years ago into the internal politics and practices of the cabinet and ministries emphasized the existence of a cyclical culture of dependence between ministers and senior officials. One expression of this mutual dependence, according to the same analysis, was that ministers put greater trust in the advice of their subordinate civil servants than in the advice of ministerial colleagues. This pattern extends to all aspects of the cabinet’s agenda. At times, civil servants can exercise significant influence. The former state secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Raimo Sailas, was widely considered to be highly influential. With regard to policy programs and similar intersectoral issues, coordination between civil servants of separate ministries happens as a matter of course. In specific matters, coordination may even be dictated. For instance, statements from the Ministry of Finance on economic and financial matters must be obtained by other ministries. On the whole, given the decision-making culture, civil servants in different ministries are expected to engage in coordination. An unwritten code of behavior prescribes harmonious and smooth activity, and ministers or ministries are expected to subject projects that are burdensome or sensitive to a collective examination and analysis.
Citations:
Jaakko Nousiainen, “Politiikan huipulla. Ministerit ja ministeriöt Suomen parlamentaarisessa järjestelmässä.” Porvoo: Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö, 1992, p. 128; Eero Murto, Power Relationship Between Ministers and Civil Servants, pp. 189-208 in Lauri Karvonen, Heikki Paloheimo and Tapio Raunio, eds. The Changing Balance of Power in Finland, Stockholm: Santérus Förlag, 2016.
Switzerland
The federal government deliberates behind closed doors, and minutes of these meetings are not public. A leading expert on government decision processes has estimated that in most decision-making processes, “either the preliminary procedure or the co-reporting procedure leads to an agreement.” The preliminary procedure consists of interministerial consultations at the level of the federal departments. After the departments have been consulted, the co-reporting procedure begins. The Federal Chancellery leads the process by submitting the proposal under consideration as prepared by the ministry responsible to all other ministries. These then have the opportunity to submit a report or express an opinion. A process of discussion and coordination ensues, designed to eliminate all or most differences before the proposal is discussed by the Federal Council.

Two instruments, the large and the small co-reporting procedures, are specifically designed to coordinate policy proposals between the ministries. These processes invite the ministries to take positions on political issues. The co-reporting procedure is largely a process of negative coordination, which highlights incompatibilities with other policies but does not systematically scrutinize the potential for synergy.
9
Denmark
Coordination through the cabinet is collegial, and officials largely carry out interdepartmental coordination through negotiations between their affected ministries, often via interdepartmental committees or working groups. There is a certain degree of congruence between such interdepartmental committees and cabinet committees, with different ministries leading on different issue areas. The PMO plays an important role, especially for issues that involve the parliament. Important ministries include the Finance Ministry, the Justice Ministry and the Foreign Ministry, which gets involved in security.
Citations:
Jørgen Grønnegård Christiansen, Peter Munk Christensen and Mariun Ibsen, Politik og forvaltning. 4. udgave. Copenhagen: Hans Reitzels Forlag, 2017.
Luxembourg
Senior ministry officials and interministerial meetings are important for the preparation of draft bills and for cabinet meetings. There is both formal and informal coordination in the conception of new policy, in policy modification or in the conception of a pre-draft bill. As part of the process, interministerial ad hoc groups are formed. Normally, a pre-draft bill is already the result of consultation with social partners and civil society groups. Once the pre-draft bill is published, official consultation rounds start again.
Citations:
Thomas, Bernard/Schmit, Laurent: “Die Unentbehrlichen: Wieviel Macht haben hohe Beamte?” Forum.lu, September 2013, pp. 33-37. www.forum.lu/pdf/artikel/7693_332_ThomasSchmit.pdf. Accessed 20 Oct. 2019.
Bossaert, Danielle (2008): Die öffentliche Verwaltung, in: Wolfgang H. Lorig/Mario Hirsch (eds.): Das politische System Luxemburgs, Springer VS Verlag, pp. 130 – 142.
Bossaert, Danielle (2019): How size matters. In: forum, 2019, no. 394, pp. 32-34.
New Zealand
The cabinet process is overseen by the cabinet office on the basis of clear guidelines. Under the new Labour-NZ First coalition, the so-called Cabinet Office Circular CO (17) 10 provides practical guidance for ministers and departments on implementing the coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First as well as the confidence and supply agreements between Labour and the Green Party. Departmental chief executives typically meet with ministers prior to cabinet meetings to discuss the agenda and clarify matters. The amount and effectiveness of policy proposal coordination varies a great deal depending on the policy field. However, there is clearly coordination in the preparation of cabinet papers and required processes are specified in cabinet office circulars.
Citations:
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.https://dpmc.govt.nz/sites/default/files/2017-12/coc-17-10.pdf
Portugal
There are weekly junior minister meetings, with each ministry represented by one of its junior ministers (known in Portugal as secretaries of state). A key purpose of these meetings is to ensure policy coordination across ministries before proposals reach the cabinet.
These meetings are generally very effective in ensuring policy coordination across government. Furthermore, the work of assessing the various proposals within each ministry is not restricted only to the secretaries of state who attend the meeting, but also include ministerial advisers and, to some degree, senior public administration officials.
 
Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
8
Australia
There is generally a high level of coordination between federal ministry public servants. In most cases, ministries must coordinate with the Department of Finance and the Treasury, since they are responsible for finding the resources for any new policy developments, and such developments must feed into the government’s spending and budget cycle. Where there are legal implications, there must be coordination with the attorney-general’s department. Departments least likely to coordinate their activities across the government portfolio are Defense and Foreign Affairs and Trade, since their activities have the fewest implications across other portfolios.

Coordination is especially effective when the political leadership is driving proposals, but less effective on policy matters initiated at the level of the minister or department, in part reflecting greater uncertainty among civil servants as to the support for the proposal from the political leadership. It also reflects differences in policy priorities and culture across departments, as well as inherent competition between departments for power, relevance and resources.
Canada
Many policy proposals are coordinated by line ministries with other line ministries. However, due to issues of departmental mandates and authorities, this process is generally not as effective as the central-agency coordination process. On certain issues, the line department may be unwilling to recognize the role or expertise of other line departments, or have fundamental differences of perspectives on the issue, and hence may fail to consult and/or coordinate a policy proposal with others. The paramount role of central agencies in policy development means that departments have in fact little ability to effectively coordinate policy proposals.
France
If a ministry wishes to get its proposals accepted or passed, it must liaise and coordinate with other ministries or agencies involved. For instance, the Macron Law on the economy (2015) had to be co-signed by 13 ministers. In case this consultation has not taken place, objections expressed by other ministers or by the Council of State might deliver a fatal blow to a proposal. All ministries are equal, but some are more equal than others: for example, the finance minister is a crucial, omnipresent and indispensable actor. Usually the coordination and consultation process is placed under the responsibility of a “rapporteur,” usually a lawyer from the ministry bureaucracy (who is also in charge of arguing and defending the draft bill before the Council of State, whose intervention is crucial even beyond the purely legal point of view). The dossier is always followed by a member of the minister’s staff who communicates with his/her counterparts and tries to smooth the process as much as possible. In the most difficult cases (when ministers back up strongly the positions of their respective civil servants), the prime minister has to step in and settle the matter. In contrast to Germany, for instance, sectoral ministers have a limited margin of maneuver.
Latvia
The official decision-making process mandates the coordination of policy proposals at the state-secretary level. New policy initiatives are officially announced at weekly state-secretary meetings, after the draft proposals are circulated in a transparent process providing all ministries with an opportunity to review and comment on the issues. The process is open to the public and input from non-governmental entities is welcomed. Ministry responses to draft proposals are collected and ministerial coordination meetings on particular drafts are held to achieve consensus on the substance of the proposals. In cases where consensus cannot be reached, the proposals move to cabinet committee for further consideration at the political level.

Issues can be fast-tracked at the request of a minister. Fast-tracking means that the usual procedures for gathering cross-sectoral and expert input can be circumvented, putting the efficacy of coordination at risk. In 2018, 29% of all issues before the cabinet were fast-tracked, a drop from 2015.

At a lower bureaucratic level, coordination occurs on an ad hoc basis. Ministries conduct informal consultations, include other ministry representatives in working groups and establish interministerial working groups to prepare policy proposals. These methods are widely used, but not mandatory.
Citations:
State Chancellery (2015, 2018), Reports (in Latvian), Available at: https://www.mk.gov.lv/lv/content/gada-publiskie-parskati, Last assessed: 07.11.2019
UK
The interministerial coordination of policy proposals is an official civil service goal. Single Departmental Plans (SDPs) set out departmental objectives and how these will be achieved. SDPs highlight areas of cross-departmental working, including where departments are working together to deliver shared objectives and are overseen by the Cabinet Office and the Prime Minister’s Office. There are also some cross-departmental bodies established in response to the identification of specific objectives, such as the Work and Health Unit set up to improve the employability of disabled or ill people.

However, problems of capacity and capability in this area have been revealed by surveys undertaken within the civil service. Examples of civil service disruption are, on the one hand, the Civil Service Reform Plan of 2012 and, on the other hand, the coalition’s spending cuts, which have hit parts of the ministerial bureaucracy very hard and led to considerable job cuts. Relations between the civil service and the government have been affected, but the situation does not seem to have had a great impact on the efficiency of policy-proposal coordination. As explained above, the Cabinet Office assures coordination at the level of officials.

There are concerns that the workload required to deliver Brexit will undermine coordination within government. Though once Brexit is concluded, reversion to the usual procedures can be expected.
7
Chile
Ministry staff and civil servants do not always play a dominant role in the drafting of policy proposals before those proposals reach ministerial committees. Depending on the ministry and the importance of the proposal, officials and civil servants are more or less effectively involved in the preparation and coordination process.
Germany
Ex ante coordination between the line ministries’ leading civil servants has not been particularly strong under past German coalition governments. In addition, an entrenched political practice ensures that no ministry makes any proposal that might be postponed or blocked by other ministries. The federal Ministry of Finance must be involved when budgetary resources are concerned, while complicated legal or constitutional issues necessitate the involvement of the federal Ministry of Justice. But generally, every ministry is fully responsible for its own proposed bills. All controversial issues are already settled before being discussed by the cabinet. The dominant mechanism for conflict resolution is the coalition committee, which is composed of the heads of the governing parties, sometimes supplemented by higher bureaucrats and/or party politicians. It is the most important and informal decision-making body, with comprehensive competences in the governing process.
Iceland
Ministry officials and civil servants play an important role in preparing cabinet meetings. Even so, no cooperation between ministries is presumed in cases where the ministers themselves are not involved. As a consequence of the strong tradition of ministerial power and independence, the involvement of too many ministries and ministers has been found to be a barrier to policymaking. Currently, coordination between ministries is irregular. The prime minister has the power to create coordination committees, but the number of active committees is currently low.
Italy
Before every Council of Ministers meeting there is a preparatory meeting – the pre-consiglio – where the heads of all legislative ministerial offices filter and coordinate the proposals to be submitted to the Council of Ministers meeting. The head of the Department for Juridical and Legislative Affairs of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers chairs these meetings. Proposals on which there is no agreement will rarely make it to the Council of Ministers. Further informal meetings between ministerial officials take place at earlier stages of drafting. However, the bureaucracies of individual ministries are normally protective of their prerogatives and are not keen to surrender autonomy. Under the Conte governments, the PMO bureaucracy seems to have lost some of its coordination ability, with the departmental bureaucracies and interparty bargains gaining as a result.
Japan
The LDP-led government in power since 2012 has worked effectively with the bureaucracy. In 2014, the government introduced a Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs tasked with helping the prime minister make appointment decisions regarding the 600 elite bureaucrats in ministries and other major agencies. This significantly expanded the Cabinet Office’s involvement in the process and its influence over the ministerial bureaucracy, including the influence of Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who has been in office since 2012. There are more political appointees in the ministries than before, and since Abe’s accession in 2012, the average stay of such appointees has become longer, giving them greater expertise and clout in their ministries. In the September 2019 cabinet reshuffle, Abe again reappointed key allies. There are growing concerns that basing the promotion of senior ministry civil servants on political considerations and personal allegiances may diminish their utility in terms of offering neutral expertise.
Citations:
Loyalty trumps scandal in Abe’s selections for new Cabinet, Editorial, The Asahi Shimbun, 12 September 2019, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201909120031.html

Hideaki Tanaka, Should Civil Servants Offer Allegiance or Expertise? Lessons from the Moritomo and Kake Scandals, Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research, 1 May 2018, http://www.tokyofoundation.org/en/articles/2018/role-of-civil-servants
Lithuania
The process of drafting laws and resolutions requires consultation with the ministries and state institutions affected by the issue. The coordination process is led by the ministry responsible for a given issue area. Coordination takes place at various levels of the administrative hierarchy: coordination at the civil-servant level is followed by that of ministerial representatives (junior ministers and ministerial chancellors) representing the ministries at the government level. The latter meetings, which had been initially discontinued under the Skvernelis government, were later reintroduced in the form of inter-institutional meetings after a change of the government chancellor.

Coordination is a lengthy, well-documented process. Joint working groups are sometimes established, while interministerial meetings are used to coordinate the preparation of drafts and resolve disagreements before proposals reach the political level. All draft legislation must be coordinated with the Ministry of Justice and/or the Government Office. However, the substance of coordination could be improved if the initiators of draft legislation were to use consultation procedures more extensively in assessing the possible impact of their proposals. The importance of coordination should be recognized not only during the planning phase, but also during the implementation, monitoring and evaluation phases of the policy process.
Norway
Senior civil servants and political appointees play an important role in preparing cabinet meetings. This process follows fixed procedures, and matters must be appropriately prepared before being presented to the cabinet. This includes the creation of documentation alerting cabinet ministers to the essentials of a proposal, thus allowing cabinet meetings to focus on strategic issues and avoid being distracted by routine business details. Most issues on the agenda have been prepared well before the meeting.
South Korea
Civil servants from different ministries regularly coordinate on policies of common concern. This coordination and cooperation among related civil servants across ministries can be either formal or informal, hierarchical or horizontal. Unfortunately, attitudes in the ministries are shaped by departmentalism that obstructs coordination. Different ministries use their policies to compete for support and approval from the office of the president. There is also a clear hierarchy delineating the ministries. Civil servants in important ministries, such as the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, consider civil servants from other ministries, such as the Labor Ministry or the Environment Ministry, as being “second tier.” Key issues given a high priority by the president can be effectively coordinated among concerned ministries.

Some attempts to improve coordination among ministries are being made. Various interministerial coordination mechanisms have been implemented on the basis of sector and theme, such as the interministerial coordination system for ODA. Moreover, it is expected that the efficiency of and communication between government agencies will be improved by the introduction of a new records-retrieval system. The National Archives and Records Administration (NIS) has announced that it will establish a search and retrieval service in consultation with the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs. However, in spite of the Blue House’s political dominance, the Moon government has exhibited numerous cases of coordination failure among relevant ministries. For example, the Blue House; the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport; and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance have frequently failed to communicate and coordinate effectively on real-estate policy, a fact that has helped produce skyrocketing prices and increasing inequality.
Citations:
“Korea’s Government 3.0: the Beginning of Open Government Data,” Korea IT Times, February 24, 2016
http://www.koreaittimes.com/story/58369/koreas-government-30-beginning-open-government-data
Spain
The two most important senior bureaucratic positions in the 17 ministries are the secretaries of state, who play a role much like that of junior ministers but do not formally belong to the government, and the undersecretaries, who are career civil servants who typically act as department administrators. These figures meet every Wednesday in the so-called General Committee of Undersecretaries and Secretaries of State. This committee effectively prepares the Council of Ministers’ weekly sessions, which are held two days later, on Fridays. The deputy prime minister and head of the Government Office (GO) chairs the meetings of this preparatory committee in which all draft bills, all appointments and any other ministerial proposals are discussed and scheduled as a part of the Council of Ministers’ agenda. A provisional agenda is published by the GO a week before the cabinet meeting. The GO also collects and circulates all relevant documents for discussion by the line ministers. On Tuesday mornings, the prime minister’s advisers assess the relative importance of agenda items and identify where there are likely to be divergent positions. Thus, the Wednesday meetings of the preparatory committee perform an important gatekeeping function in returning problematic proposals to the appropriate line ministry and forwarding the remaining proposals to the Council of Ministers.

While policy proposals are efficiently coordinated at the highest level of the bureaucratic hierarchy, the tradition of interministerial coordination at mid-level administrative bureaucracy means efficiency is weaker here. To be sure, the role of high-ranking civil servants is crucial in the preparation of policy proposals within every line ministry, but their subsequent involvement in horizontal coordination with other ministries is very limited. In fact, and as a consequence of the strong departmentalization, every ministry tends to act within its area of competence or jurisdiction, avoiding proposals which may involve other ministries. Although many administrative interministerial committees formally exist, in practice these committees do not coordinate the drafting of policy proposals or decision-making between different ministries. As administrative committees do not tend to work efficiently, they have fallen by the wayside and now usually simply facilitate the exchange of information or try to settle jurisdictional conflicts.

Under the caretaker government that has held office since April 2019, the workload of the preparatory committee has decreased considerable.
Citations:
Ley 50/1997
Real Decreto 595/2018
Sweden
Most of the daily coordination on policy matters does not involve the political level of the departments but is instead handled at the administrative level. However, as soon as coordination takes place on a political dimension, it is “lifted” to the political level.

Coordination within the GO remains a significant problem, although some measures have been implemented to address that problem. Many departments still find it difficult to coordinate policy across departmental boundaries. Departments that were formed through mergers of departments tend to display “subcultures” of the former departments.
Citations:
Jacobsson, B., J. Pierre and G. Sundström (2015), Governing the Embedded State (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Niemann, C. (2013), Villkorat förtroende. Normer och rollförväntningar i relationen mellan politiker och tjänstemän i Regeringskansliet (Stockholm: department of Political Science, University of Stockholm).
6
Austria
Austria’s federal bureaucracy is characterized by structural fragmentation. Each federal ministry has its own bureaucracy, accountable to the minister alone and not to the government as such. Each minister and his or her ministry is regarded as having a party affiliation according to the coalition agreement. Policy coordination is possible only when the ministers of specific ministries agree to establish such a specific coordination. As fitting in the government’s ministerial structure of the government, individual ministers fear loss of control over their respective bureaucracies, and thus lasting and open contacts are possible only between the (politically appointed) personal staff of ministers belonging to the same political party.

Because the Austrian bureaucracy is organized along the lines of a (British-style) civil service system, the different ministerial bureaucracies are stable in their political makeup and therefore immune to short-term political influences. Specific ministries are generally dominated by one party over the long term (e.g., the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (social democratic) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment (conservative).

Nonetheless, by introducing “secretary generals” above the heads of departments in government ministries, the autonomy of civil servants was reduced by the ÖVP-FPÖ coalition. Though it will have to be seen whether this trend toward internal centralization within the ministries will survive the new government.
Ireland
Responsibility for policy coordination lies with the Prime Minister’s Office (Department of the Taoiseach). However, to be truly effective in this area the office would require greater analytical expertise across many policy areas than it has at present. Despite much rhetoric about “joined-up government,” the coordination of policy proposals across ministries has traditionally been relatively weak, with conflicting policies pursued in different parts of the civil service. For example, employment creation can take precedence over environmental considerations and local planning processes often do not mesh with national housing policies.

While coordination across government is often an up-hill battle, the development of the cabinet committee system has somewhat improved matters. Hardiman et al (2012, p.120) conclude, “perhaps the most significant organizational change aimed at improving cross-departmental coordination has been the growing reliance on the cabinet committee system: “Most of the major policy initiatives – health, environment, climate change, economic renewal – all will have gone through the cabinet committees. So that is a big change in the system of governance … They provide a mechanism to manage complex cross-cutting issues’ (Interview B, 1 Nov 2009).”

Another source of interdepartmental coordination stems from the practice of cabinet and junior ministers each appointing their own “special adviser.” These advisers meet to debate policy proposals: O’Malley and Martin (2018, p265) comment that “the advisers collectively operate in effect as a lower-level cabinet.”
Citations:
Niamh Hardiman, Aidan Regan and Mary Shayne ‘The Core Executive: The Department of the Taoiseach and the Challenge of Policy Coordination, in Eoin O’Malley and Muiris MacCarthaigh (eds, 2012), Governing Ireland: From Cabinet Government to Delegated Governance. Dublin: IPA.

Eoin O’Malley and Shane Martin, ‘The Government and the Taoiseach,’ in John Coakley and Michael Gallagher, Politics in The Republic of Ireland. (Routledge, 2018).
Malta
The effort to enhance collaboration at all levels, reported in the last review period, continues to be strengthened within ministries and across ministries. The government office (GO) has gone to great lengths to enhance ministries’ personnel capacities for this purpose. This is done through focused training and targeted recruitment efforts. The GO also collaborates with universities by offering placements and research posts to undergraduates in an attempt to help recruit future top civil servants. These students are placed in sectors where they can build their own managerial capacities, and are offered fast-track employment to senior offices on graduation. In other cases, it is now compulsory for top senior managers to hold post-graduate degrees, and existing personnel are offered bursaries and time off to pursue such qualifications.

In 2017, the first 12 key performance indicators (KPIs) for the public service were put into place. This is a new concept for Malta’s public service, and is designed to establish clear objectives that need to be attained within a specific time frame. A “mystery shopper” for government departments was also introduced, with the aim of identifying shortcomings in service delivery and allowing such situations to be remedied.
Citations:
https://www.pressreader.com/
https://education.gov.mt/en/education/myScholarship/Documents/OPM%20Circular%2019_2016%20%20%20BA%20Work%20and%20HR.pdf
http://www.grtu.org.mt/index.php/publications-resources/publication-after-2010/publications-in-2013/2849-Tackling_bureaucracy
Romania
In the absence of interministerial committees, bills are subject to interministerial consultation by being sent for review to the ministries affected by each act. If ministries do not respond to the review request within five days, the non-response is considered tacit approval. Prior to government meetings discussing a particular legislative proposal, the Secretariat General of the Government organizes working groups between the representatives of ministries and agencies involved in initiating or reviewing the proposal in order to harmonize their views. While these procedures promote coordination, the capacity limitations of many ministries and the short turnaround time allowed for review undermine effective review and hence allow for only superficial coordination in many cases.
Slovenia
The government rules of procedure establish clear mechanisms to ensure effective cooperation between the ministries. They require the consultation of all ministries that are concerned before the submission of bills to the cabinet. While senior civil servants are thus heavily involved in the coordination of legislation, the effectiveness of this coordination has suffered from the deteriorating quality and increasing politicization of the upper echelons of civil service.
Netherlands
Since the 2006 elections, politicians have demanded a reduction in the number of civil servants. This has resulted in a loss of substantive expertise, with civil servants essentially becoming process managers. Moreover, it has undermined the traditional relations of loyalty and trust between (deputy) ministers and top-level officers. The former have broken the monopoly formerly held by senior staff on the provision advice and information by turning increasingly to outside sources such as consultants. Top-level officers have responded with risk-averse and defensive behavior exemplified by professionally driven organizational communication and process management. They have embraced some Dutch variation of New Public Management thinking and practices. The upshot is that ministerial compartmentalization in the preparation of Council of Ministers meetings has increased. Especially in the Ministry of Justice and Safety, the quality of bureaucratic policy and legislation preparation has become a reason for serious concern.
Citations:
R.B. Andeweg and G.A. Irwin ( 2014), Governance and politics of the Netherlands. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

H. Tjeenk Willink, Een nieuw idee van de staat, Socialisme & Democratie, 11/12, 2012, pp. 70-78

De Correspondent, Den Haag bestuurt het land alsof het een bedrijf is. En democratie heeft het nakijken, 29 June 2018
 
There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
5
Belgium
While ministries are not significantly involved in preparing cabinet meetings, each minister has a large team of close collaborators and advisers (the ministerial cabinet) to prepare projects, which are first submitted to the minister, and then to the Council of Ministers. For some decisions, responsibilities are shared among several ministers, a situation that happens regularly. In this case, ministerial teams must coordinate their actions in cabinet committee meetings before being able to submit a proposal to receive the approval of each minister. Proposals may be submitted to the ministers’ council only at this stage.

The bottom line is that top civil servants do not play a significant role – in most cases, they are at best informed of ongoing discussions and are simply asked to deliver data and information.
Cyprus
The broad area that each of the 11 ministries is responsible for has been extended to new fields since EU membership. Ministry officials and civil servants participate in ad hoc bodies or seek coordination with other ministries and formulate policy proposals. Final decisions rest with the ministers themselves, who sometimes apply political criteria. While the constitution accords exclusive powers to ministers within their ministry, bureaucrats have an increasingly significant role in formulating policies and proposals.

More interministerial interaction was promoted through units created in the framework of the reform effort. However, the dissolution of the Unit for Administrative Reform has led to the reallocation of its tasks back to the ministries. The absence of a centralized coordination body has increased the need for consultation and coordination between line ministries.
Citations:
The Unit for Administrative Reform to be Dissolved, InBusiness, 27 July 2018, https://inbusinessnews.reporter.com.cy/financials/cyprus/article/191286/dialyetai-i-monada-dioikitikis-metarrythmisis [in Greek]
Czechia
As part of the interministerial coordination process, some coordination among line ministry civil servants takes place. Senior ministry officials are generally a crucial link in collecting and discussing comments on proposed legislation. The definition of their roles and responsibilities was improved through the civil service law, which went into effect at the beginning of 2015 and regulates the legal status of state employees in administrative offices and represents a significant step toward establishing a stable and professional public administration. However, the form in which the civil service law is implemented has not yet led to a complete depoliticization of the public administration, and it remains difficult to attract highly qualified workers into public service.
Hungary
Given the relatively small number of ministries in Hungary, interministerial coordination has, to some extent, been replaced with intra-ministerial coordination, especially within the Ministry of Human Resources (EMMI), the largest superministry. In addition to policy coordination by the PMO, senior ministry officials meet in order to prepare cabinet meetings.
Israel
Over the past decade, the government has sought to improve interministerial cooperation in order to overcome bureaucratic entanglements and political power struggles. In so doing, it has introduced roundtable meetings, director generals and vice-director generals of ministries coordination forums, guidelines, and digital information platforms. However, experts say that ministries are essentially territorial in nature, and information sharing between ministries is difficult at best.

This lack of communication results at least partially from the government’s highly centralized budget process, which makes public servants defensive of limited and strictly supervised resources. In 2016, a report by the State Comptroller suggested that the lack of communication regarding foreign affairs is a result of the transfer of duties from away from main ministries such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to other ministries. The report also asserted that interministerial disagreements are delaying the publication of regulations necessary for the implementation of laws. A report from 2017 shows that this trend had improved, with 148 laws having not been implemented. Regulations under these laws were rescheduled or returned to parliament for further revision and should be resubmitted by the end of 2019.

More so, it seems that in some cases various ministries are responsible for the same topic or field of expertise and that there is no coordination between them. This is somewhat deliberate as some of the reforms reflect the personal interests of the prime minister’s agenda. For example, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs came into conflict regarding BDS movements and the question of which ministry was responsible given the lack of coordination between the ministries.
Citations:
“About: Public sharing,” Sharing official website (Hebrew)“ Failures of the public sector and directions for change,” The committee for social and economic change website (Hebrew)

Barda, Moshe, “Coordination between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense,” The Knesset Research Center 2007: http://www.knesset.gov.il/mmm/data/pdf/m01880.pdf (Hebrew)

Bar-Kol, Yair, “Appointing a minister for interministerial cooperation,” TheMarker 3.4.2013: http://www.themarker.com/opinion/1.1983509 (Hebrew)

Haber, Carmit, “Managerial culture blocks to implementing open government policy,” The Israel Democracy Institute (March 2013) (Hebrew)

Israel Democracy Institute, The two great successes of the outgoing government – thanks to inter-agency cooperation, 2019 [Hebrew]
https://www.idi.org.il/articles/25492

Ravid, Barak.”Watchdog: Power Struggles Between Ministries Hindered Israel’s Battle Against BDS,” 24.5.2016, http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.721284

Reducing the number of mandatory regulations that have not yet been enacted, Government decision number 2588, PMO, April 2017, https://www.gov.il/he/departments/policies/2017_dec2588

“The committee to investigate the Prime Minister’s headquarter,” Official state report, April 2012 (Hebrew).

“The division of electronics and technologies,” Accountant General website (Hebrew) “The guide for governmental sharing: A model for cooperation between ministries,” official state publication, 2013: http://www.ihaklai.org.il/Portals/0/Documents/articles/מודל%20לשיתוף%20פעולה%20בין%20משרדי%20הממשלה.pdf (Hebrew)

The Foreign Affairs Ministry closes the department that handled BDS
https://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4991405,00.html

“The Leadership Academy- founding statement,” November 2014, Civil Service Commission website:
http://www.csc.gov.il/Tenders/TendersServices/Documents/LeadershipAcademyDoc.pdf

The Open Administration Work Plan for 2018-2019, Israel’s ICT Authority, http://yoursay.gov.il/cio/File/Index/nap3hebrew/

Zinger, Ronny. “175 laws are not implanted because ministries didn’t set regulation for them” – Calcalist, 25.1.2016 (Hebrew): http://www.calcalist.co.il/local/articles/0,7340,L-3679237,00.html
Mexico
Traditionally, there was little real distinction in Mexico between civil servants and politicians, though the relationship between them has significantly varied over time. The upper administration overly consists of presidential appointments, with only a limited number of career bureaucrats. Two exceptions are the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where bureaucratic expertise has always played a major role. The cabinet today is much more heterogeneous, however, with some figures personally close to the president and others more independent. The politicization of the cabinet, which has increased under the three recent administrations, is constraining its ability to coordinate policy proposals given the centrifugal tendencies. On the other hand, the previously mentioned independent agencies are often characterized by higher levels of bureaucratic professionalism.
Poland
Senior ministry officials play a substantial role in interministerial coordination. All meetings of the Council of Ministers, the Polish cabinet, are prepared by the Council of Ministers’ Permanent Committee, which is made up of deputy ministers from the ministries. The Committee for European Affairs, which is in charge of EU coordination, also relies strongly on coordination by top civil servants. In contrast, bureaucratic coordination at lower levels of the hierarchy is still relatively limited, even though the joint administration of EU funds has helped to intensify interministerial exchange. Changes in personnel have secured the dominance of the government over administration.
Slovakia
In Slovakia, senior ministry officials have traditionally been heavily involved in the interministerial coordination process at the drafting stage. In contrast, coordination at the lower levels of the ministerial bureaucracy has suffered from a strong departmentalist culture and the top-down approach taken in most ministries. Since the 2016 elections, SNS and Most-Híd have further weakened the role and independence of the civil service by seeking to provide ministerial positions to party members.
Turkey
Following the introduction of the presidential system, Decree No. 703 abolished the offices of an undersecretary, deputy undersecretary and central governor.

The new centralized government system consists of four offices, nine councils and 16 ministries formed around the presidency. Under the new system, offices produce projects, councils transform projects into policies and the ministries implement policies. The Department of Administrative Affairs conducts monitoring and the State Supervision Council performs a control function. The new governmental system is an attempt to promote efficiency and coordination in governmental processes, especially in decision-making and implementation. However, the centralization and unification of decision-making in the hands of the president raises doubts about the sustainability of interministerial coordination in particular.
Citations:
TC Cumhurbaşkanlığı Strateji ve Bütçe Başkanlığı, 2018 Yılı Genel Faaliyet Raporu, www.sbb.gov.tr › 2018-yili-genel-faaliyet-raporu (accessed 1 November 2019)

Cumhurbaşkanlığı Teşkilatı Hakkında Cumhurbaşkanlığı Kararnamesi 1, http://www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2018/07/20180710-1.pdf (accessed 1 November 2018)

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.
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Bulgaria
Some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials and civil servants takes place, but the relevant issues are usually resolved at the political level. Within the ministries, a departmentalist culture prevails. This is especially true during coalition governments, when coordination between line ministries under ministers from different parties is virtually nonexistent.
Croatia
The direct coordination of policy proposals by ministries is limited. There is no stable and transparent scheme for settling interministerial differences within the bureaucracy. The ministries in charge of drafting proposals rarely set up working groups that include peers from other ministries or government bodies. Deadlines for comments by other ministries are often too abbreviated, capacities for comments are sometimes inadequate, and comments made by other ministries are often not taken seriously.
Citations:
Musa, A., Petak, Z. (2015): Coordination for Policy in Transition Countries: Case of Croatia, in: Mednarodna revija za javno upravo/International Public Administration Review 13(3-4): 117-159.
Greece
Greek bureaucracy is over-politicized and under-resourced. Political party cadres rather than civil servants coordinate policy proposals. Civil servants in line ministries often lack modern scientific and management skills. Policy proposals are usually assigned to ministerial advisers, who are short-term political appointees and can be non-academic experts, academics and governing party cadres. Top civil servants contribute to policy proposals by suggesting what is legally permissible and technically feasible, although even on those issues ministers often tend to trust their own legal and technical advisers. The remaining civil servants at lower levels of the bureaucratic hierarchy rarely, if ever, know of, let alone contribute to policy proposals. Moreover, there is little horizontal coordination among civil servants working in different ministries. Ministers assign the task of horizontal interministerial communication to their advisers.

In the period under review, such trends were exacerbated, though officially the government may have intended otherwise. Pressed by the country’s creditors, the government began implementing a new law (passed in 2016) which should have enhanced the role of civil servants when formulating and coordinating policy proposals. The senior civil service was supposed to be staffed by personnel selected by meritocratic standards (e.g., new appointments were scheduled to be made to the rank of general directors of ministries). The selection process took over a year to complete and was heavily disputed. In practice, little progress was made as the government preferred to turn to its own political appointees for the preparation and coordination of policy proposals.

This meritocratic selection of civil servants was not accelerated after the government turnover of July 2019. However, the new government passed legislation limiting the number of political appointees at the top of the civil service hierarchy, and depoliticizing high-ranking ministerial positions, such as the post of general secretary. The new legislation had not yet been implemented by the end of 2019.
Citations:
The new law on higher civil service is law 4369/2016.
USA
In general, there is an expectation of interagency coordination at various levels of the bureaucracy. The quality of this coordination varies, and as with cabinet-level coordination, it is adversely affected by the short-term service of political appointees, which results in underdeveloped working relationships across agencies. President Trump has failed to appoint or nominate people to occupy a large majority of the important political-appointee positions in the agencies. In addition, permanent staff have been departing. As a consequence, it would be impossible for interagency coordination to operate effectively at this stage of his presidency.
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There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
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