Interministerial Coordination


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

Most policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
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. The entire consultation process is run via an online system of draft laws, the Information System for Legal Drafts (Eelnõude infosüsteem, EIS).
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.
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.
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.
Vatter, Adrian (2020): Der Bundesrat. Die Schweizer Regierung. Zürich: NZZ
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.
Jørgen Grønnegård Christiansen, Peter Munk Christensen and Mariun Ibsen, Politik og forvaltning. 4. udgave. Copenhagen: Hans Reitzels Forlag, 2017.
Until recently, coordination of policy proposals was mandated at the state-secretary level, and new policy initiatives were officially announced at weekly state-secretary meetings.

With the introduction of the new Legislative Portal (TAP), there is no longer a formal announcement of new bills at the meetings of the state secretaries. Now everything new appears on the portal, with the reporting period for submitting opinions beginning at the point of appearance. This has made the process of developing legislation more transparent – the portal allows the draft project to be published during the formulation stage, and the development of the draft continues in a collaborative, documented, and transparent manner. The institutions that have created accounts on the TAP portal have the opportunity to track the progress of projects at each stage, and can submit their objections or proposals in a timely manner.

Institutions and natural persons that do not have an account on the TAP portal can provide an opinion on a discussion paper before the project is submitted for inter-institutional coordination, and can also track the progress of draft measures (e.g., withdrawn, agreed, accepted, submitted, developed). The TAP portal allows users to share the draft legislation with representatives of other institutions before sending it for review, thus eliminating errors in a timely manner. It is also possible to see the opinions submitted by all participants in the coordination process, including social partners and NGOs.

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 2020, 40% of all issues before the cabinet were fast-tracked, an increase from 2018.

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.
State Chancellery (2015, 2018. 2020), Reports (in Latvian), Available at:, Last assessed: 10.01.2022.
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.
“Le cabinet ministériel.” Le gouvernement luxembourgeois. Ministère de la Fonction publiques (2021). Accessed 14 January 2022.

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, codified in the Cabinet Manual. The CabGuide online resource complements the procedural information available in the Cabinet Manual and contains guidance on how to use CabNet, the document management and workflow system that supports cabinet processes (Department of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet n.d.). 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.
Department of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet (n.d.) Cabinet Office.
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.
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.

There were concerns that the workload required to deliver Brexit would undermine coordination within government. But, as expected, since the formal conclusion of the process, there has largely been a reversion to the usual procedures. Plans put forward by former adviser to the prime minister Dominic Cummings for a major reform of the civil service were not pursued further after he left Downing Street.

Several new coordination units, cutting across departments, were created in 2020 in response to the pandemic, testifying to a capacity to change means of coordination rapidly.
Many policy proposals are effectively coordinated by ministry officials/civil servants.
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.
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 sufficiently and/or coordinate a policy proposal with others.

For policy proposals going forward to cabinet, line departments are, however, required to undertake the necessary consultations to ensure the proposal has been considered by other relevant ministries. Central agencies perform a critical oversight and steering role in this process. Moreover, during the pandemic a wide array of programming was rolled out quickly to respond both to urgent economic and health needs, necessitating close coordination among line departments as well with central agencies. This response is indicative of the coordination undertaken both horizontally among ministries as well from a central perspective.
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. If 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 processes are placed under the responsibility of a “rapporteur,” usually a lawyer from the ministerial bureaucracy (which 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.
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. Ministry staff and civil servants can request technical support in particular subject-matter areas from the Library of the National Congress of Chile (BCN).
Library of the National Congress of Chile (Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile, BCN),, last accessed: 13 January 2022.
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. In line with § 17 of the Rules of Procedure of the Federal Government (Geschäftsordnung der Bundesregieurng), all controversial issues are in general already settled before being discussed by the cabinet.
No change to last round.
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.
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 Draghi government, the PMO has regained its coordination ability, which had declined under the Conte cabinets.
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. There are more political appointees in the ministries than before, and during Abe’s long spell in power (2012-2020), the average stay of such appointees became longer, giving them greater expertise and clout in their ministries. 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.
Hideaki Tanaka, Should Civil Servants Offer Allegiance or Expertise? Lessons from the Moritomo and Kake Scandals, Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research, 1 May 2018,
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 Office of the Government. 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.
Senior civil servants and political appointees play an important role in preparing cabinet decisions. For all proposed decisions, a short paper describing the case, and the argument for the proposal, is circulated between all ministers in advance. 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 failed to communicate and coordinate effectively on real estate policy, a fact that has contributed to skyrocketing prices and increasing inequality. A particularly contentious interagency battle took place in 2019-2020, as the Ministry of Justice pushed for and the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office blocked President Moon’s prosecutorial reform initiative.
“Korea’s Government 3.0: the Beginning of Open Government Data,” Korea IT Times, February 24, 2016
Shin, Mitch. “South Korea’s Prosecutor General Wins Another Court Battle against the Government.” The Diplomat, December 22, 2021.
The two most important senior bureaucratic positions in the ministries are the secretaries of state, who play a role much like that of junior ministers but do not formally belong to the cabinet, and the undersecretaries, who are career civil servants who typically act as department administrators. These figures meet 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 on Tuesdays. 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 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.

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. However, the creation of the Technical Committee in 2021, and the additional creation of the new interministerial commission on the implementation of the RRF, which is chaired by the prime minister, will increase cooperation and standardize procedures among the line ministries.
Orden HFP/1030/2021, de 29 de septiembre, por la que se configura el sistema de gestión del Plan de Recuperación, Transformación y Resiliencia (BOE 30 de septiembre)
Most of the day-to-day coordination on policy matters is handled at the administrative level, and does not involve the political level of the departments. 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 (Jacobsson, Pierre, and Sundström, 2015; Niemann, 2013). The government has initiated a coordinated approach involving collaboration along policy sectors as a means of preventing the work from slipping into a silo mentality (Regeringskansliet, 2021).
Jacobsson, Bengt, Jon Pierre and Göran Sundström. 2015. “Governing the Embedded State.” Oxford University Press.

Niemann, Cajsa. 2013. “Villkorat Förtroende. Normer och Rollförväntningar i Relationen Mellan Politiker och Tjänstemän i Regeringskansliet.” Department of Political Science, University of Stockholm.

Regeringskansliet (Government Offices of Sweden). 2021. “Regeringens Strategiska Samverksansprogram.”
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 (though some federal governments have included non-party ministers). 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, though with considerably higher levels of informal party politicization, the different ministerial bureaucracies tend to be stable in their political makeup and therefore immune to short-term political influences. However, the creation of secretary-generals at the top of departments in 2017, a system that has been continued by ÖVP-Green government (since 2020), has reduced the autonomy of civil servants.
Greek bureaucracy is politicized and under-resourced, as 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.

However, in the period under review, there were serious steps toward de-politicizing the civil service. The meritocratic selection of senior civil servants in particular was finally improved after the change in government in July 2019. The new government proceeded to fill the director general posts by following regulations provided by law regarding the selection of better educated and more experienced (civil servant) candidates. Political influences over selection procedures were not completely absent, but compared to the past there was much less politicization.

The government also passed legislation depoliticizing high-ranking ministerial positions. It created in every ministry the post of service secretary, which is reserved for senior civil servants, who are selected by a non-politicized committee of the Higher Council for the Selection of Civil Service Personnel (the ASEP). The post of service secretary was established to isolate the management of routine ministry work and the management of human resources of ministries from government interference. The new post was placed on the side of the post of general secretary, which is normally occupied by a political appointee, responsible for seeing through the implementation of government policy. In 2021, new legislation reorganized some of the procedures of the ASEP and streamlined the recruitment of new public sector employees.
The new law on higher civil service is Law 4622/2019 while the new law regulating recruitment of new public employees is Law 4765/2021.
Responsibility for policy coordination lies with the 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.”

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.
Hardiman, N., Regan, A., & Shayne, M. ‘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.

O’Malley, E. & Martin, S. ‘The Government and the Taoiseach,’ in John Coakley and Michael Gallagher, Politics in The Republic of Ireland. (Routledge, 2018).
The public service has been at the heart of recent efforts to enhance collaboration at all levels, 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. In nearly all 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. A recent study has demonstrated the impact on policy coordination resulting from these reforms. The 2020 study by the Audit Office on Government Implementation of the SDGs states that “the governance structure for poverty is appropriately designed, functions in an efficient and effective manner, and has addressed most of the strategic actions set. This governance structure takes the form of an interministerial committee, which is responsible for the implementation of the National Strategic Policy for Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion 2014–2024. The Committee is chaired by the Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity, and includes the ministries responsible for education, employment, culture, health.” However, the report recommends that outside experts should be included.
Dec 2020 – A review of implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 1 – Malta’s efforts at alleviating poverty – download
Traditionally, there has been little real distinction in Mexico between high-ranking civil servants and politicians, though the relationship between them has varied quite a bit over time. The upper levels of the administration consist overwhelmingly of presidential appointments, with only a limited number of career bureaucrats. Two prominent exceptions are the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where bureaucratic expertise has always played a major role. The politicization of the cabinet, which has increased under the three recent administrations, is constraining its ability to coordinate policy proposals due to the centrifugal tendencies. On the other hand, the previously mentioned independent agencies are often characterized by higher levels of bureaucratic professionalism. President López Obrador’s cabinet is filled with politicians who are close to the president, and decision-making is centralized in the presidency. Because of this personalization and centralization, policy proposals are effectively controlled by the presidency and ministries.
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.
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.
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 failed to appoint or nominate people to occupy many of the important political-appointee positions in the agencies. In addition, permanent staff departed. President Biden is seeking to undo the damage made during the Trump administration through a bold hiring campaign, the largest in decades. This campaign should help rejuvenate an aging federal civil service.
There is some coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
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.
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 ministers have exclusive powers within their ministry, bureaucrats have an increasingly significant role in formulating policies and proposals.

The new Directorate General of Coordination (DGC) under the Ministry of Finance may turn it into a centralized coordination body, increasing consultation and coordination between line ministries.
1. More coordination needed to help unaccompanied minors, Cyprus Mail, 22 November 2021,
As part of the interministerial coordination process, some coordination among line ministry civil servants occurs. Senior ministry officials are generally crucial 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. In some cases, coordination between ministries even takes the form of contracts. For instance, there is a memorandum of mutual cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture in order to improve the international representation of Czech culture.
Due to the limited number of ministries in the Hungarian government and consequently the huge size of many ministries, interministerial coordination has, to some extent, been replaced with intraministerial coordination, especially within the Ministry of Human Resources (EMMI), the largest of the superministries. In some cases, these superministries are black holes where the most important issues disappear, like the COVID-19 crisis management in the Ministry of Interior or EU affairs in the Ministry of Justice. In addition to policy coordination by the Prime Minister’s Office, senior ministry officials meet in order to prepare cabinet meetings.
The government seeks 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 partially results from the government’s highly centralized budget process, which is controlled by the Ministry of Finance, as this process 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.

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.
“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: (Hebrew)

Bar-Kol, Yair, “Appointing a minister for interministerial cooperation,” TheMarker 3.4.2013: (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]

Ravid, Barak.”Watchdog: Power Struggles Between Ministries Hindered Israel’s Battle Against BDS,” 24.5.2016,

Reducing the number of mandatory regulations that have not yet been enacted, Government decision number 2588, PMO, April 2017,

“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:מודל%20לשיתוף%20פעולה%20בין%20משרדי%20הממשלה.pdf (Hebrew)

The Foreign Affairs Ministry closes the department that handled BDS,7340,L-4991405,00.html

“The Leadership Academy- founding statement,” November 2014, Civil Service Commission website:

The Open Administration Work Plan for 2018-2019, Israel’s ICT Authority,

Zinger, Ronny. “175 laws are not implanted because ministries didn’t set regulation for them” – Calcalist, 25.1.2016 (Hebrew):,7340,L-3679237,00.html
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 intensify interministerial exchange. Changes in personnel have always secured the dominance of the government over administration.
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. Professionalism and efficiency in public administration have been suffering from the growth in the size of the central state apparatus, the lack of qualified staff in the civil service and clientelist and politicized appointment practices. The Matovič government tried to improve the quality of public administration by fostering the use of a new Common Assessment Framework (CAF) as a comprehensive management tool. At the same time, the Matovič and Heger governments have stuck to the clientelist approaches to civil service nominations they had criticized fiercely in the past. In October 2021, parliament passed an amendment to the civil service law, which provides for the unconditional dismissal of senior civil servants by the Secretary-General of the Service who serves at the Interior Ministry.
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. For example, during the beginning of the pandemic and through a good deal of the later events, the Ministry of Public Health had no medical experts among its top-level civil servants. 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 of policy-relevant information and advice by turning increasingly to outside expertise such as consultants and lobbyists. 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 (NPM) thinking and practices. One of the results is that in the 2019 International Civil Service Effectiveness Index (InCiSE), the Netherlands received a below-average score in the area of policymaking.

The upshot is that ministerial compartmentalization in the preparation of Council of Ministers meetings has increased. Another, recently severely criticized NPM-related impact has been the sharp organizational boundary between policy formulation and implementation in independent administrative organizations (Zelfstandige Bestuurs Organen, ZBO) like the Social Security Bank (Sociale VerzekeringsBank, SVB) for pensions and children’s allowances; the Implementation Institute for Employee Benefits (Uitvoeringsinstituut WerknemersVerzekeringen, UWV) for a raft of different employee benefits; and even the tax authorities, which no longer just collect taxes but also manage a gamut of tax benefits/incentives for thousands of eligible families, such as the now scandal-ridden child assistance benefits. The consequence has been that policy is off-loaded to implementation institutions without thorough feasibility testing, let alone prior assessment of impacts on citizens. The neoliberal mood also meant that the monitoring and oversight bodies, the inspectorates, were overburdened and understaffed.
Your citations
R.B. Andeweg and G.A. Irwin ( 2014), Governance and politics of the Netherlands. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan., 30 June 2021. VWS volgt altijd de Gezondheidsraad – bij gebrek aan kennis

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

Vereniging voor Bestuurskunde, van den Berg, August 31, 2017. De ongemakkelijke waarheid van Tjeenk Willink.

De Correspondent, Den Haag bestuurt het land alsof het een bedrijf is. En democratie heeft het nakijken, 29 June 2018

International Civil Service Effectiveness Index (InCiSE), 2019, p. 54
Following the introduction of the presidential system, Decree No. 703 abolished the offices of an undersecretary, deputy undersecretary, and central governor. Instead, deputy ministers, who usually come from the private sector and are politically well-connected to the government, acquired the highest position within a hierarchical structure. In addition, some traditionally strong institutions were either weakened or abolished. The State Planning Organization, which was one of the most respected institutions in Turkey, was abolished. Instead, the Ministry of Development was founded. Similarly, the Ministry of Finance, which had a traditionally strong bureaucratic structure, was subject to severe restructuring.
Strateji ve Bütçe Başkanlığı. 2021.

Gözler, K. (2018). Mahalli İdareler Hukuku. Baskı, Ekin Kitabevi: Bursa.
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 has prevailed, characterized by a high segmentation / insulation of ministries and little interministerial coordination on the level of senior civil servants.

The organizational structure of the December 2021 cabinet was intended to change this culture. One element of the new structure has been an intended closer oversight on the part of the prime minister and the finance minister, who is also a deputy prime minister.
Coordination between line ministries in shaping certain elements of public policies is normatively determined by the Rules of Procedure of the Government. 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. In addition, there are no clear criteria as to when multi-sectoral working groups need to be formed for particular policy proposals.
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.
There is no or hardly any coordination of policy proposals by ministry officials/civil servants.
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