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Lack of a holistic perspective in the central governance of the county administrative boards

The central governance of the county administrative boards is lacking a holistic perspective and limits the possibilities of long-term and sustainable operations. The Swedish National Audit Office is now recommending the Government Offices to improve the coordination of governance and to introduce more unison funding.

Hand pointing at county map of Sweden.

Over the years, a number of government inquiries have indicated that shortcomings in governance and financing have made it difficult for the county administrative boards to conduct effective and long-term activities.

The audit carried out by the Swedish National Audit Office shows that the majority of the problems previously indicated have not been rectified. The central governance is still lacking an overall perspective and does not take into consideration the broad and multifaceted commission of the county administrative boards.

“The central governance is perceived as uneven and too detailed, and it is often unclear to the county administrative boards what the Government wants them to do,” says Helena Lindberg.

Part of the problem is that the funding for the county administrative boards consists of a relatively small administrative appropriation along with a large amount of supplementary sources of funding relating to specific commissions within the central government’s expenditure areas.

“Uneven funding and lack of strategic overview in the governance makes it harder for the county administrative boards to plan for the long term. This in turn impairs the conditions for effective operations in a number of ways,” says Daniel Bjerstedt, project manager for the audit.

The audit also reveals that the Government in many regards treats the county administrative boards as one government agency. This is a convenient way for the Government to manage these 21 independent agencies, but it is not as manageable for the county administrative boards.

“The boards solve this through a collaborative organisation whose mandate and composition is not explicitly regulated. This has caused uncertainty in terms of roles and division of responsibilities within the group of county administrative boards,” says Daniel Bjerstedt.

Recommendations

Among other things, the Swedish National Audit Office recommends the Government and the Government Offices to:

  • Develop the coordination of governance for the county administrative boards.
  • Reduce the proportion of grant funding.
  • Formulate guiding principles for what the county administrative boards are to do.
  • Gather the commissions for all the county administrative boards in joint appropriation directions.
  • Develop guidelines for strategic contacts between the county administrative boards and the Government/Government Offices.
  • Document the dialogue between county administrative boards and the Government Offices.

The county administrative boards are recommended to set up clear principles for the composition of the county director groups and specify the mandates of the county director liaisons.

Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.

Presskontakt: , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.

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Updated: 08 March 2019

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