Organizational Reform


To what extent do actors within the government monitor whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate?

The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly and effectively.
The monitoring and evaluation of existing institutional models forms an important element of the Finnish political and administrative system. Earlier attempts to improve the proportionality of the electoral system and alter constituency sizes are examples of how evaluation and monitoring processes in Finland mainly focus on administrative and steering issues. A system of program management that introduced new measures for monitoring the government plan was implemented several years ago. This monitoring system has been adopted as well as improved by subsequent governments. The Stubb cabinet (2014 – 2015) made monitoring data publicly available. The same policy was followed by the Sipilä cabinet. For example, progress toward realization of the 26 main goals and five main reforms listed in the government plan were reported online and updated monthly. The Rinne government launched a joint communication model for its major reform projects, managed by the Government Communications Department. One of this body’s central tasks is to provide an overview of the implementation of reforms.
However, the pandemic has disrupted many government plans. The Marin government has not made any changes to its program, but the pandemic has clearly weakened the government’s capacity to implement its stated goals.
“Government Programme Monitoring Data,”;
Valtioneuvoston kanslia, “Jyrki Kataisen ja Alexander Stubbin hallitusohjelmien loppuseuranta 2015,”;
Toimintasuunnitelma strategisen hallitusohjelman kärkihankkeiden ja reformien toimeenpanemiseksi 2015-2019. Päivitys 2016. Hallituksen julkaisusarja 2/2016.
“Government Communications Strategy.” Publications of the Finnish Government
New Zealand
While New Zealand’s political system does not provide codified mechanisms for routine reviews of its institutional arrangements, both National Party and Labour governments have repeatedly surveyed the system’s performance in the past – through a number of different devices. For example, governments have used referendums to consult citizens directly on institutional issues, including on the electoral system (1993 and 2011), and established expert/stakeholder advisory groups in a number of areas, such as Open Government Partnership (OGP) processes (2016-) and data ethics (2019-). However, governments have routinely ignored expert advisory groups’ recommendations in the past, for instance in the case of recommendations made by the Tax Working Group and the Welfare Expert Advisory Group.
Institutional arrangements of governing obviously cover a wide array of arrangements. As indicated earlier, it is astounding in many ways to think that Sweden has transformed politically from a pre-democratic system to a democratic state, embedded in an international union such as the EU, with only a minimum amount of institutional and constitutional reform. Such a transformation testifies to the capacity of institutions to accommodate change. Given their institutional capacity to adapt to external change, institutional arrangements as such are rarely assessed.

The cabinet and government departments were reformed (i.e., merged and/or abolished) during the 1980s and 1990s, but today most observers seem to agree that this type of reform rarely solves any problems. Instead, the main institutional monitoring and reform takes place at the agency level. The number of agencies has been reduced dramatically over the past two decades, from just over 1,300 in 2000 to 343 as of January 2022. Two more agencies will be established in 2022: the Agency for Psychological Defense and the Agency for Human Rights (Statskontoret, 2021).

While some agencies have been abolished, the bulk of the reduction has come from mergers. This reduction in the number of agencies says very little about the extent of regulation; in some ways it is a numbers game aiming to communicate the message to voters that the government is trimming the central bureaucracy. However, there is more or less continuous assessment of the agency system and of the performance of agencies with regard to service delivery and policy implementation.

Agencies are monitored fairly closely, so much so that a couple of recent commissions have recommended that agencies should not have to provide data on their performance with the same frequency as they do today and that the system should allow for more variation among agencies in this respect. The red-green government that came into power in 2014 has launched a process of reducing the number of performance indicators that agencies are requested to provide data on. These efforts are part of a larger project to replace New Public Management models of public sector management with a more trust-based model of management, as advised by the results of commissions of inquiry in 2018 and 2019, which are sure to result in reforms in the future (Regeringskansliet, 2018; 2019).
Statskontoret (The Swedish Agency for Public Management). 2021. ”Myndigheterna Under Regeringen.”

Regeringskansliet. (Government Offices of Sweden). 2019. ”Med Tillit Följer Bättre Resultat – Tillitsbaserad Styrning och Ledning i Staten.” SOU 2019:43

Regeringskansliet. (Government Offices of Sweden). 2018. ”Med Tillit Växer Handlingsutrymmet – Tillitsbaserad Styrning och Ledning av Välfärdssektorn.” SOU 2018: 47.
The institutional arrangements of governing are monitored regularly.
Government structures are constantly changing in Canada, but there are few procedural structures in place to (self-) monitor whether current arrangements are appropriate or whether change has resulted in improvement. Instead, changes are initiated at the will of the government in power, with little ex post evaluation. In the case of the recent merger of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade with the Canadian International Development Agency, for example, the government offered no details about the nature of the amalgamation, nor about the cost savings it was intended to realize.

The current government, which won its previous mandate in part based on the promise of transparency and fairness, has since established a number of independent committees tasked with monitoring certain government processes. For example, in an effort to reduce partisanship in lawmaking, it created an independent advisory board that will aid in the selection of senators, and created the Independent Advisory Board to oversee appointments to the Supreme Court. While the government has acted upon such advice as in recent appointments to the Senate, it remains too early to gauge the long-term impact of these committees.
David Zussmann (2013), Mergers and successful transitions, Canadian Government Executive, Volume 19 Issue 5.

Prime Minister of Canada, “The Prime Minister announces the appointment of Senators,” 29 July 2021,
Given the size of the country’s public sector, monitoring and management within it is crucial. Tight public finances have placed additional focus on efficiency and productivity in the public sector. This has fueled a public management and governance strategy that includes the use of contracts, results-oriented salaries, measurements, evaluations and efficiency reports.

Significant efforts have been undertaken to digitalize public administration, including those services involving direct interaction with citizens. Annual tax reporting is digitalized and most communication utilizes the e-boks system. Denmark ranked first in the United Nation’s 2021 e-Government Development Index.

There is an ongoing debate on the need to reduce bureaucracy. Efforts to simplify labor market and social policies have been proposed recently, though this is likely a cyclical phenomenon, as policymakers often respond to specific cases of bloated bureaucracy that are reported in the media.
Niels Ejersbo og Carsten Greve, Moderniseringen af den offentlige sektor. Copenhagen: Børsens Forlag, 2005.

“90-årig mand taber sag: Glemte at tjekke sin e-Boks – og så faldt hammeren,” (Accessed 17 October 2016).

UN E-government development index,, Accessed December 1st 2016. (Re-accessed 17 October 2017).

United Nations E-Government Survey 2018, (Accessed 7 October 2018).

Statsminister Mette Frederiksens tale ved Folketingets åbning 2019, (Accessed 18 Octobr 2019).
During the period under review, the monitoring of institutional governance arrangements was improved. In the past, monitoring was inefficient as it was often delegated to governing party officials with little administrative experience. After the change in government in 2019, the new government reorganized governance structures and appointed highly skilled experts with job experience in the private sector to various management posts across the public sector. All governance monitoring was executed from the top, namely by the Prime Minister’s Office (recently renamed, the Presidency of the Government). In 2020–2021, the prime minister was aided by the skilled staff of that office and by two government ministers without a portfolio, as well as technocrats responsible for monitoring institutional arrangements.
The government office has an annual monitoring procedure under which cabinet decision-making processes are reviewed. This results in frequent improvements to the process. In 2013, major revisions to the regulatory impact assessment system were made, along with the introduction of a green-paper system that will move public consultations on new policy initiatives to an earlier phase of the policy-planning process.

The management of relations with parliament, governing parties, and ministries is not regularly reviewed. This is considered by civil servants to be the purview of politicians and therefore not an appropriate topic for initiatives emanating from the civil service level.

Research on how to improve governance is commissioned sporadically. The last report of this kind was commissioned in 2015, focusing on strengthening human resource policies within the government’s core. However, it had no appreciable impact.
1. PKC (2015) Report on the Center of Government in Latvia, its Strengthening and the Implemented Human Resource Policy, Available (in Latvian) at:, Last accessed: 10.01.2022.
Lithuania’s policymakers monitor institutional governing arrangements (both institutions and rules of procedure) regularly and effectively. The Ministry of the Interior has established a committee to monitor the implementation of the Public Government Improvement Program, which includes representatives from that ministry, the Office of the Government, and other key ministries and state institutions. However, these monitoring and review processes do not include representatives of the business community or civil society, or individual experts. Non-governmental actors used to participate in the activities of the Sunset Commission, but its mandate was not extended through the 2016 – 2020 government term. Also, the rules of procedure and business processes are frequently reviewed using quality-management instruments, the application of which is becoming increasingly widespread in the country’s public administration. A uniform project-management standard introduced by the Skvernelis government for the governmental and ministerial levels provides for the establishment of a project monitoring group and the application of monitoring procedures during the implementation of projects.

However, the results of these monitoring processes are not sufficiently used in making decisions, and some changes to institutional arrangements remain motivated by governments’ short-term political needs. The country’s OECD accession has offered new possibilities for benchmarking Lithuanian’s public sector performance against other OECD members, thus creating opportunities to draw political attention to the need to monitor governance arrangements. The OECD study presented in late 2021 is a case in point.
OECD, Mobilising Evidence at the Centre of Government in Lithuania. Strengthening decision-making and policy evaluation for long-term development, Paris: OECD, 2021.
Self-monitoring takes place both informally and formally. On a formal level, there is a parliamentary committee devoted to monitoring whether government and parliamentary activity adheres to the constitutional framework and proper procedures. In addition, the Office of the Auditor General, which reports to parliament, has gradually made itself more assertive while expanding its policy focus. There is also a ministry and an executive agency in charge of administrative policy questions, both of which monitor institutional arrangements. Informally, there is substantial monitoring of the way institutional arrangements affect government functions. For example, ministerial portfolios are shuffled when change is deemed necessary, notably each time there is a change of government.
Self-monitoring takes place as a part of the political process, which includes numerous private and public actors. It is not institutionalized outside the context of the evaluation of policies (as by implication, policy evaluation leads indirectly to the monitoring of the institutional framework for these policies). The major actor in self-monitoring is the Parliamentary Control of the Administration (PCA), an evaluation service of the Federal Assembly which, on behalf of the Control Committees (“Geschäftsprüfungskommissionen”), conducts studies on the legality, expediency and effectiveness of federal authorities’ activities. When commissioned to do so, the PCA can also scrutinize the effectiveness of federal government measures on behalf of other parliamentary committees. In addition, the various federal offices conduct internal evaluations that they trigger themselves. The nature of these self-evaluations varies and depends on the activity of the respective evaluation unit.
In general, according to Sager et al., evaluation activity in Switzerland is high and evaluations form an important part of political life in Switzerland.
Sager, Fritz, Thomas Widmer und Andreas Balthasar (Hg.) (2017). Evaluation im politischen System der Schweiz – Entwicklung, Bedeutung und Wechselwirkungen. Zürich: NZZ Verlag, Reihe „Politik und Gesellschaft in der Schweiz“.
Flexibility and informal meetings are a key feature of the government system, enabling it to respond in a way uniquely tailored to the situation at hand that has always been valued highly and is an essential constituent of prime ministerial government in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, the Cabinet Office in particular has a remit to monitor the government’s functioning and does so through a range of mechanisms, which have been reinforced by recent civil service reforms, particularly civil service management procedures. A key change introduced in 2016 was the introduction of wide-ranging “single departmental plans,” replacing the use of business plans. After a spending review in 2020, a new instrument – outcome delivery plans (ODPs) – was introduced. ODPs set out each government department’s revised priority outcomes, the department’s strategy for achieving them and the metrics that will be used to track performance. In addition, the recasting of cabinet committees saw the creation of “operations” as well as policy groupings, replacing the implementation task forces set up in 2015 innovation. Regular assessments of progress are undertaken by the Civil Service Board chaired by the cabinet secretary and there is a so-called shadow civil service board composed of less senior civil servants. The latter is charged with assessing specific projects and advising senior management, and is also expected to provide different perspectives and views on papers that are forwarded to the Civil Service Board.

In response to critiques from select committees and the Institute for Government (IfG), the government revised its guidance on the machinery of government, placing greater emphasis on the importance of senior leadership and accountability, although the IfG’s 2022 Whitehall Monitor raises concerns about the ambiguity over whether ministers or civil servants are ultimately accountable.

This self-monitoring has been bolstered by a renewed commitment to open government and the public release of data. Executive monitoring is complemented by media scrutiny, parliamentary committees, various policy-specific statutory bodies and independent organizations, such as the Institute for Government. The Institute of Government stated that its task of monitoring central government was facilitated by the availability of data, “the fact we can produce this report supports that.” The dissemination of good audit practices has been encouraged by the publication of internal audit standards and there are periodic reviews of areas of governance concern, recent examples being an audit of race disparities and a review of national security capabilities.
Under the Orbán governments, there has been no regular formal monitoring of the institutional arrangements of governing. However, there is strong and rather comprehensive oversight of the working of the state apparatus from the top down, measured against the political will of the leadership, and the government has been quick to change any institutional arrangements it has deemed to be politically dangerous.
The present government has a mandate for institutional reform and has made some progress in implementing its program. Specific examples have been discussed in relation to other SGI criteria.
The Israeli government has installed various executive-branch institutions, both internally and externally, tasked with monitoring its activities and performance in areas such as procedures, financial transfers and human resources. For example, the Accountant General regularly audits financial decisions in ministries. The Civil Service Commission ensures that internal due processes are followed, and oversees human resources. However, in recent Knesset discussion regarding reforms to the Commission’s work, critics have asserted that the Commission’s work is inefficient. The PMO monitors implementation of the State Comptroller’s recommendations as well as the internal accounting units in each ministry. Supplementary mechanisms for self-regulation include protocols and guidelines governing daily practice.
“About: the Accountant General,” Ministry of finance website (Hebrew):

“About the Inspection General for State Comptroller Affairs,” PMO website (Hebrew):

Government Decision 482: adoption of the recommendations of the governability committee, 30.6.213,

“Notice number 3,” Civil service commission website (Hebrew) “About: Civil Service Commission,” Civil service commission website (Hebrew):

Protocol – The Special Committee – Reforms in the Civil Service Commission:

“Rules, procedures and guidelines for CEOs in the civil service,” Civil service commission 2013: (Hebrew)

“The internal audit law 1992,” Official legislation (Hebrew)
Traditionally, the attention paid to the internal organization of the government machine has been selective and sporadic. No systematic monitoring was accomplished on a regular basis. The spending review initiated under the Monti government, and continued by the Letta, Renzi and Gentiloni governments, reformed this field somewhat. Reforms have focused mainly on financial issues, but have also involved the monitoring of institutional arrangements of government (with particular attention given to the structures of local government). However, many of these review exercises’ proposals for a deeper restructuring of government have not been seriously implemented. After limited past reforms that increased the ability to monitor the government program, little attention has been paid to a serious restructuring of the Prime Minister’s Office. Reforms introduced under the Conte government only marginally affected the state bureaucracy’s low level of productivity. The Draghi government – because of its specific mission and as a consequence of the rules imposed by the Next Generation EU program – has developed more effective instruments for monitoring the activities of ministries, administrative units and local governments, and to measure their effectiveness in implementing the actions prescribed by the Resilience and Recovery Plan (PNRR). From this point of view, 2021 has been a very positive year.
Reform of the executive has been a major topic in Japan for two decades. During Prime Minister Abe’s second administration (2012-2020), the LDP-led government sought to readjust institutional arrangements by establishing and/or reinvigorating a number of councils and committees. To some extent, the Abe government was able to bring back the leadership framework that characterized the government under Prime Minister Koizumi (2001–2006), for instance through a strong Cabinet Office. Whether these institutional changes will result in more effective self-monitoring of the government or whether these new institutional arrangements will become more permanent under the current Prime Minister Kishida’s administration remains to be seen.
On the one hand, presidential advisory and administrative arrangements in and around the White House are reconfigured in important respects by each president. As a result of this fluidity, presidents, their staffs and commentators discuss the effectiveness of the given arrangements of the president’s senior aides almost constantly. By contrast, most other organizational structures – including the basic separation-of-powers system; the structure of Congress; and the structure of departments and major agencies of the executive branch – are rigid. None of these units are subject to change by executive decision or ordinary legislative majority, and they are evaluated only in extreme circumstances.

The executive structures of the Trump presidency proved to be exceptionally casual and unstable, with a president who appeared to have no appreciation for the benefits of systematic deliberation and the division of labor. In many important agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State Department, and parts of the Department of Justice, mid-tier and lower-level professionals also left in large numbers. Through its expert-friendly appointment process, the Biden administration is seeking to repair the damage done by the Trump administration.
Ministries are required to establish sectoral goals that are evaluated annually. Reports are presented on a quarterly basis but do not focus directly on the adequacy of institutional arrangements. For example, while the accomplishment of ministerial goals is evaluated, the overall adequacy of the ministry is not. Although the Ministry of Finance assesses the adequacy of institutional arrangements in the case of new law proposals, there is no specific institution assigned to monitor pre-existing institutional arrangements. Furthermore, to a certain degree, changes in institutional arrangements tend to be influenced by personnel criteria and are not driven by an effort to introduce long-run strategic structural change. Ministry portfolios are subject to sporadic monitoring while procedures and work formats are subject to regular monitoring.
Based on the amount of amended or adopted regulations that deal with institutional arrangements, the government’s monitoring activities certainly exist and inform policymaking. Since March 2014, the Act on National Government has furnished the ministerial nomination processes with a new flexibility; it no longer lists ministers, but only sets a maximum number for the government as a whole. This enables nominations to better reflect current needs. Since 2015, a minister of public administration has been nominated. The minister is responsible for monitoring the institutional arrangements of the government sector and proposing reforms if necessary.
In the absence of systematic monitoring of institutional arrangements, the government relies mainly on international expertise. EU and OECD data significantly affects the political agenda, and the implementation of social and economic policies. However, in line with the coalition agreement for the 2018-2023 period, the Grand Duchy embarked on a series of administrative and organizational reforms – the so-called “state modernization.” Public services were encouraged to implement customer/citizen-focused-quality management systems.

The European Commission’s 2018 report entitled “Public administration characteristics and performance in EU28” confirmed the Luxembourg status-quo-oriented administrative tradition. The country scores high on the Uncertainty Avoidance dimension (thus reflecting a certain resistance to new methods and ideas), but also on the Long-term Orientation dimension (which expresses the pragmatism of the public administration and the ability to adapt to change). A comparative review of the Power Distance dimension indicates that Luxembourg’s traditions, like those in Germany and France, retain considerable respect for authorities and hierarchies.

The Grand Duchy is a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which is a multilateral initiative aiming to stimulate governments around the world to make concrete commitments to promote good governance through the use of new technologies. The 2019-2021 National Plan was prepared by a horizontal group (facilitated by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the “Digital Lëtzebuerg” platform), with the participation of various stakeholders (ministries, administrations, civil society, academia, media). Luxembourg articulates its action around six goals: transparent and open administration, promotion of open data, promoting the use of clear administrative language, information on climate action, establishment of a European center for CiviTech, and establishment of a support program for human rights defenders.

Within the ongoing “Digital Lëtzebuerg” strategy, many actions have already been accomplished. However, due to country’s high-quality technological structure, it should still be possible to further streamline the administrative formalities and procedures that affect users (citizens, businesses, administrations).
“Open Government Partnership. Luxembourg National Action Plan 2019-2021.” The Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg/Open Government Partnership Lëtzebuerg (10 March 2020). Accessed 14 January 2022.

“Public administration characteristics and performance in EU28: Luxembourg.” European Commission. Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Support for developing better country knowledge on public administration and institutional capacity-building” (VC/2016/0492) (2018).

“Einfach Lëtzebuerg.” The Government of Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Accessed 14 January 2022.
The government has stepped up its efforts to monitor wide-ranging aspects of government work, especially from within the PMO. The Office of the Principal Permanent Secretary bears primary responsibility for this and has been carrying out its responsibilities in an appropriate manner. Unfortunately, most ministers seek, aided by their staff, to avoid such monitoring. This is evident from cases that come to light and which raise serious questions about good governance. Nevertheless, responding to EU supervision has helped. The NAO and the ombudsman also continue to provide essential monitoring functions. Over the last two years, Malta has been working to improve this aspect of governance. Currently, it has resolved many of its outstanding issues with the European Commission. In 2019, the government announced the creation of a new entity to monitor public-private partnerships. The PMO is currently overseeing an overhaul of procedures in a number of ministries and public organizations, following recommendations made by MONEYVAL, the Venice Commission and GRECO.
Government to set up entity overseeing and monitoring public private partnerships 28/01/19
Times of Malta 17/01/2020 Venice Commission Reforms without delay, Robert Abela
Historically, Mexico has often found ways of dealing with the so-called agency problem in policy implementation, which explains why institutional arrangements need constant monitoring. Traditionally this agency problem was dealt with by a high degree of corporatist authoritarianism, which came at a high cost for controlling agents. In today’s Mexico, democracy – even if sometimes insufficiently implemented – requires new models of overcoming this agency problem in an increasingly diversified and complex state structure. Particularly policymakers at the central level and in the more advanced states are becoming aware that effectively governing complexity requires different principles, including monitoring institutional governance arrangements. In July 2018, Mexico launched an online platform to track progress toward achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Yet, especially at the subnational level, pockets of authoritarianism, weak state capacity and widespread corruption result in uneven capacity for monitoring institutional arrangements and regulatory reforms. At the top of the political pyramid, the quality of self-monitoring still depends much on the personal engagement of the president. Mexican policymakers have tended to engage quite frequently in administrative reorganization, possibly to excess. President Peña Nieto was an ambitious, and perhaps excessive, but largely unsuccessful reformer. President López Obrador is even more ambitious, and is attempting to radically transform Mexico with his so-called fourth transformation agenda. López Obrador’s new social programs and plans to revive the Mexican oil industry are intended to transform Mexico’s socioeconomic structure. However, this socioeconomic transformation has been hindered and interrupted by numerous problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Another element of President López Obrador’s reform agenda, the demilitarization of the war on drugs, has failed completely. After the passage of half of López Obrador’s term, his approval ratings remain very high, despite several failures.
Institutional governing arrangements are centralized in the presidency. President López Obrador makes his own decisions on policies, and also determines whether and when governance is to be monitored, which is done sporadically when such activities conform with the president’s plans.
SDG 2018. Mexico’s SDG Portal Brings Functionality to Reporting.
South Korea
The president’s office monitors institutional governance arrangements. The president frequently reorganizes ministries and government agencies when inefficiencies are detected. At the same time, institutional reforms are often driven by individual high-ranking government officials rather than being part of a comprehensive plan. For example, the recent controversy over the creation of a new government agency tasked with investigating and prosecuting high-level government officials was primarily driven by former Justice Minister Cho Kuk. However, the initiative did not provide adequate assessment as to how this new institution would be more independent than the existing public prosecutor’s office from political meddling, or how it would improve investigations of high-level officials overall.
The institutional arrangements of governing are selectively and sporadically monitored.
There is little in the way of formal processes to indicate that institutional arrangements are monitored regularly, but such monitoring does occur occasionally. Institutional arrangements do periodically change, often manifesting as rearrangements and renaming of departments. Ad hoc reviews are also conducted, such as the 2004 Review of the Corporate Governance of Statutory Authorities and Office Holders. In some key areas such as migration, Australian authorities carefully monitor the impact of policies, and rapidly change policy direction if appropriate.
There is no regular monitoring within the executive branch of the government. Due to the fragmented structure of the government and comparatively weak position of the chancellor, the ability to engage in oversight from within the central government is rather limited.

Core government actors are first and foremost legitimized by the political parties. Though officially appointed by the president, the cabinet consists of individuals chosen by the political parties on the basis of post-electoral coalition agreements. Civil service personnel are in many cases also indirectly linked to one of the political parties. In recent years, short-term appointments within the civil service have bolstered this latter trend, undermining the principle of a professionalized civil service. Individual cabinet members (federal ministers, including the chancellor and vice-chancellor) have increased the size of their personal staffs. This has created a mixed system, partially echoing the model of the British civil service, in which civil servants work under ministers irrespective of their own political links, and partially following the U.S. model of a politicized civil service with party-political links between cabinet members and their staff. This blend of two contradictory principles undermines the reform capacity of the Austrian system. The government and its individual cabinet members can neither depend on the full loyalty of a partisan civil service nor be sure of complete civil service impartiality.

In an attempt to strengthen political control over the civil service, the ÖVP-FPÖ government (2017–2019) established a system of secretary-generals in all ministries, which has been continued under the ÖVP-Green government, which formed in early 2020. This system has had a centralizing effect by guaranteeing the loyalty of the civil service to the specific minister who appoints the secretary-general. However, it indirectly contradicts the non-partisan status of the Austrian civil service. Rather than following suggestions by the Court of Audit, the primary motivation for these changes has been to achieve more (political) control over the ministry and its staff. This new system was assessed in great detail by the Austrian Court of Audit in 2021, which made quite a few suggestions for improving these arrangements.

The Austrian Court of Audit also played a major role in initiating a major reform of the Austrian administration, which is ongoing. The latest chapter focused on issues of digitalization, for which the government committed €160 million (for more on the Court of Audit, see “Audit Office”).
Numerous reports on the reform of rules, procedures and structures are prepared at the request of governmental authorities. The Court of Accounts plays a very active and stimulating role in this regard. However, few of these recommendations are implemented. Resistance by the ministries or agencies affected is usually fierce, and is often supported by opposition parties or even by part of the majority coalition. The issue is complicated by the fact that ministerial structures can be set up and changed by the government in charge. President Macron has launched an important but not yet completed reform, starting with the abolition of the famous ENA (National School of Administration) and replacing it by a new Civil Service Institute (Institut du Service Public) for the training of top-level civil servants. All successful applicants including future magistrates are to here spend one training year together before later attending more specialized programs. Several of the traditional “grands corps” – that is, the powerful specialized segments of each administration – are to be eliminated and replaced by more horizontal and open structures. It remains to see how much of these radical intentions will survive given fierce resistance by conservative corporatist groups.
The local government administrations have proven to be among the systems least adaptable to structural change. This system is multilayered, complex and no longer in line with the challenges of the modern economy and society. Most serious attempts at reform have failed. However, some elements of the 2015 territorial reorganization may trigger more change (new powers to metropolitan areas, organized cooperation/fusion of the numerous and often too small municipalities). The initial measures taken by President Macron seem to indicate that he has chosen the indirect but powerful instrument of state subsidies to force local governments to make changes. However, the government’s ambitious changes concerning the metropolitan areas and Paris have not materialized, as they face (as usual) fierce resistance from the powerful local-government lobby. From de Gaulle to Macron, all governments have had to limit themselves to partial and ad hoc reforms, making the overall system complex and costly.
There is neither a particular institution nor a commission that independently and impartially operates as an oversight body with respect to governmental activities. In addition, institutional self-monitoring capacities are still low. However, the creation of the Better Regulation Unit in the Chancellery and the extension of the competences of the National Regulatory Control Council (Normenkontrollrat, NKR) – an independent advisory body – have strengthened self-monitoring capacities. In its most recent report, published in September 2021, the NKR pointed to increasing legislative compliance costs within public administration, not just in the private sector. However, the NKR has no mandate to advise the government on its institutional arrangements.
Nationaler Normenkontrollrat (2021): Zukunftsfester Staate - weniger Bürokratie, praxistaugliche Gesetze und leistungsfähige Verwaltung, Jahresbericht 2021.
Iceland has no formal political or administrative system of self-monitoring organizational reform. Monitoring of institutional arrangements is irregular. Institutional arrangements are occasionally reviewed.
During the period under review, no substantial measures have been introduced concerning the monitoring of institutional arrangements and there is little evidence of de facto monitoring of institutional governance arrangements. What little monitoring occurs appears to be reactive to political crises or challenges. The rules of procedure for the Council of Ministers under the government that took office in 2019 were changed only minimally relative to those used by the preceding executive, and continued to make no reference to self-monitoring mechanisms.
Regimento do Conselho de Ministros do XXII Governo Constitucional – Resolução do Conselho de Ministros n.o 49/2019, Diário da República, 1.a série—N.o 44—4 de março de 2019, available online at:ª-alteração_2019.pdf
The executive actors do not monitor institutional arrangements of governing in a regular basis. On the one hand, such monitoring is highly centralized. The prime minister has the power (both constitutionally and politically) to reformulate the institutional organization of the government. Without any legal constraint, he personally decides on the structure of portfolios and other governing arrangements every time he appoints new ministers. In 2021 Prime Minister Sánchez introduced several changes with regard to ministries’ names and jurisdictions, without a prior impact assessment. On the other hand, this task is not performed regularly, in spite of laws 19/2013 on transparency, access to public information and good governance, and 39/2015 on general administrative procedure, which state that the Government Office must engage in planning, evaluation, and comprehensive monitoring of general legislation and, where appropriate, must promote revision and simplification.
In December 2020, the government approved a royal decree on the oversight structures and the frameworks necessary for domestic oversight control, the ex ante monitoring of expenditures by independent bodies, and ex post monitoring by national audit authorities. In order to detect and correct fraud, corruption and conflicts of interest as well as to increase the effectiveness of the implementation of the RRP, the government created several temporary structures and gave new responsibilities to a number of existing administrative departments.
Gobierno de España (2021), Plan de Recuperación, Transformación y Resiliencia
There have only been two visible changes in the institutional practices of the Dutch government at the national level. One is that the monarch was stripped of participation in cabinet-formation processes in 2012; the second chamber or senate now formally directs that process; in practice it is in the hands of the largest political party after elections. The effect on government formation was mixed, with a historically rapid formation in 2012 and two coalition formation processes of record-setting length in 2017 and 2021. The second change was the informal adaptation to lower levels of parliamentary support on the part of the Rutte I and II governments. Informal coordination processes between government ministers, and all members of the senate and second chamber have become crucial for governing at the national level. Following provincial elections in 2019, this also applied to the Rutte III and will apply to the Rutte IV cabinet. However, in 2019, the Council of State warned that there was a risk of subjecting parliamentary legislation to the outcomes of poldering practices that effectively give too much power to organized and vested stakeholder interests (e.g., in the context of the big agreements on housing, pensions and climate).

Two open organizational-reform crises have emerged in recent times that threaten citizens’ well-being in the long run. The first is the underfunded, understaffed and ill-considered transfer of policy responsibility to municipal and local governments within important domains such as youth care, healthcare and senior-citizen care. Strikingly, in 2020-21, many critical studies and reports signaled strong “peripheral discontents” in the northern, eastern and southern areas of the country; many citizens living in those parts of the country feel unheard, unseen and neglected. They frequently organize demonstrations in the political capital, The Hague. A task-driven (as opposed to a problem-driven) national politics and policy hampers the development of more appropriate regional and local policy responses. Regional and local governments now demand a long-overdue overhaul of interadministrative relations between national, provincial and local government and water boards. Practical problems and tensions crystallize in the now often politically contested role of mayors.

Second, there is a looming reform crisis in the justice and policing system, which undermines the government’s task of protecting citizens’ security. The reform of the policing system from regional or local bodies into a single big national organization is stagnating; police officers have mounted strikes based on wage and working-condition issues; and the top echelon of the police leadership is in disarray. The digitalization of the justice system and the reduction in the number of courts, in addition to imposed cutbacks, has wreaked havoc within the judicial branch of government. There is a crisis in the relations between the political and the bureaucratic elements, given that the Department of Justice and Security, later renamed according to its true order of priorities, Security and Justice, is supposed to provide political guidance to both of these reform movements. The subordination and instrumentalization of law to policy and the securitization of the judiciary is evident in the fact that under the Rutte IV cabinet, the top echelon of the department no longer consists of top-level legal specialists; instead, the department is run by specialists in political science and public administration.
NRC-Handelsblad, 11 April 2019. Raad van State: parlement maakt zichzelf machteloos door akkoorden.

NOS Nieuws, September 1, 2021. Vorige informateur (Tjeenk Eillink) voelt ‘plaatsvervangende schaamte’ voor impasse formatie

Raad van State, 25 November 2021, Verzoek om voorlichting over interbestuurlijke verhoudingen

Van den Berg and Kok, 14 September 2021. Regionaal Maatschappelijk Onbehagen. Naar een rechtsstatelijk antwoord op perifeer ressentiment. (in opdracht van LNV)

Boogers et al., January 2021. Teveel van het goede? De staat van het burgemeesterambt anno 2020.
With the April 2017 referendum and the subsequent incremental introduction of the presidential system of government, Turkey has undergone an organizational change involving the creation of new institutions, the merging or splitting of ministerial bodies, legal changes, and rapid personnel shifts. These developments make monitoring exceedingly difficult.

The organization of the new presidential system was regulated by Presidential Decree No. 703 in July 2018. In addition to a vice-president, the head of administrative affairs was established under the General Directorate of Law and Legislation. Its main task as the head of administrative affairs is to coordinate between public institutions and organizations and examine the congruity of laws adopted by the parliament and draft legislation prepared by government institutions with the constitution, current legislation, presidential decrees, and government program. The policy councils of the president are expected to monitor and report the implementation of governmental policies to the president.

Several units contribute to the monitoring process directly or indirectly. These units include the State Supervisory Council, the Directorate General of Law and Legislation of the Presidency of the Republic, the Directorate General of Laws and Decrees of the TBMM, the General Directorate of Laws of the Ministry of Justice, and the Council of State. Each administrative institution has its internal control unit for monitoring compliance with financial rules. However, these units are not fully effective.
European Commission. “Turkey Report 2021. Commission Staff Working Document.” October 19, 2021.

Gözler, K. (2018). Mahalli İdareler Hukuku. Ekin Kitabevi: Bursa.
During the period under review, there were no formal ex ante mechanisms for monitoring whether institutional arrangements of governing are appropriate. Efforts to reflect on the structure of governance and institutional arrangements take place only after the fact, that is, when a problem becomes serious enough or a crisis emerges and are generally driven by public pressure or pressure from some other government body.

Coordination within the government and amendments to the parliamentary rules of procedure are likely to correct this deficiencies.

The governing coalition formed at the end of 2021 committed itself to reforming the anti-corruption agency. On January 14, 2022, the chairman of the agency (the former prosecutor general) resigned, thus making way for a reform of this institution.

The improved access to public information and restored independence of the media are forcing the government to better organize the monitoring process.
There is no regular self-monitoring of the institutional arrangements of Croatian governments. Monitoring occurs only on an ad hoc, selective basis. Public organizations are supposed to prepare annual reports, but often fail to do so, and do not use these reports to examine deficiencies.
The main structures and institutions of 1960 remain largely unchanged. Reform efforts usually commence when systemic dysfunction reaches a critical level and progress moves forward at a very slow pace. This is due to the rigidity of the constitution and the absence of institutional monitoring. A centralized unit for reform, operative between 2014 and 2019, produced some results, mostly in improving procedures. The reassignment of tasks from the centralized unit for reform back to line ministries followed. Meanwhile, the absence of a coordination body makes reforms harder to implement, given that self-monitoring in line ministries is weak or absent.

Several outsourced studies and surveys have been conducted since 2012, which have identified problems and proposed reforms. However, this has not compensated for the absence of self-monitoring mechanisms.
There is no systematic monitoring of the institutional arrangements of governing. Governments must issue annual reports and a final report at the end of their term in office, as Prime Minister Babiš did in December 2021. However, these reports tend to focus on policies rather than institutions and are normally self-congratulatory. Also, there are sporadic audits within particular ministries.
The PiS government has not monitored the institutional arrangements of government in a systematic and regular way. Its goal is not to improve or professionalize institutions but to increase political power and employ personnel that follow the party line.
There is no systematic and regular monitoring of institutional arrangements. Occasionally, the OECD and World Bank have been involved in governance reviews, but the effects of the latter have been negligible. The European Commission also participates in country reviews, though governance and monitoring of institutional arrangements is not identified as a priority area for Romania in light of more pressing reform priorities.
There is no regular self-monitoring of institutional arrangements In Slovenia. The monitoring that takes place is ad hoc and limited. The annual reports of state organizations are formal and self-congratulatory. Under both the Šarec and Janša governments, the number of audits performed by private sector organizations remained low.
In 1993, Belgium became a federal state with one federal government, three regional governments (Flanders, Brussels Capital, Wallonia), three communities (Dutch-, French- and German-speaking, each with a parliament and a government), 10 provinces, and 589 municipalities (following a merger in 1975). The absence of a hierarchy of decision-making powers between the federal and regional/community institutions means that self-monitoring efforts within administrative organizations is limited in practice. It takes a constitutional crisis to trigger a comprehensive process of reflection on institutional functionality. Resulting revisions are typically motivated by pre-existing political agendas rather than by a sound impact evaluation.

There have been six such state reforms from 1970 onwards; the 6th state reform was agreed upon in 2011 and led to the transfer of multiple further competences to the regional and community levels. The federal and regional/community governments nevertheless maintained overlapping competences (as evinced by the fact that there are nine public health ministers) because each state reform was the result of a difficult compromise between those pushing for more devolution and those pushing for reinforced federal competences.

As a consequence, Belgian institutions are far from efficient. The responsibility split between municipalities and regions has not been reoptimized appropriately, particularly in Brussels. Many decisions require interministerial coordination between the federal, regional and community authorities, which makes Belgium almost as complex as Europe. A formal body – the “concertation committee” (comité de concertation/overlegcomité) – has been developed for such coordination. The committee includes federal, regional and community ministers and is supposed to prevent conflicts of interest between the three levels. Very frequently, however, no rational solution emerges.

It is also often the case that major policy initiatives requiring coordination are not even initiated because of a local government acting as a veto player that blocks the entire initiative. There are several examples of this in all policy fields with shared competences, most notably with regard to environmental/climate change and health policies. The unprecedented collaboration observed throughout the COVID-19 crisis, during which the concertation committee took a central decision-making role, could nonetheless give hope that coordination and collaboration will improve in the future. For these hopes to be realized, parties will have to stop instrumentalizing this body as described under “Constitutional Discretion.”
There is no regular and systematic self-monitoring of institutional arrangements in Slovakia. Governments and governmental bodies (such as the parliament, Government Office) must issue annual reports and a final report at the end of their term in office, however, these documents focus more on policies and formal financial accounting rather than institutional design. In addition, there are sporadic audits within particular ministries. The institutions and processes of governing are analyzed only infrequently and selectively. Shortcomings in audit procedures persist.
There is no monitoring.
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