The Swedish Agency for Public Management

Agency analysis of the Geological Survey of Sweden (2013:22)

On behalf of the Government, Statskontoret (the Swedish Agency for Public Management) has analysed the Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU) in accordance with Statskontoret's Agency Analysis Model. This means that we have carried out a general analysis of SGU's conditions, activities, performance and challenges.

The assignment has also covered some specific questions, including that of whether SGU's organisation has become more suited to its purpose after the reorganisation that was implemented in 2010.

Generally positive opinions from external actors

SGU is a government agency for issues regarding geological conditions and minerals management in Sweden. An important task is to collect, process and supply geological information. Many of the external actors that Statskontoret has been in contact with have given positive opinions about how SGU fulfils this task. The personnel are considered competent and committed. Both external actors and SGU's personnel also believe that the organisational change has helped activities to become more user-oriented and contacts with the target groups to become simpler. At the same time, some actors have levelled criticism at SGU for parts of its activities, such as those regarding the work on the water source archive and the work on regulations and guidelines.

Effects of reorganisation

In line with one of the ambitions of the change, the reorganisation has led to an increased orientation towards users. However, several problems that were identified ahead of the change still remain. These primarily relate to weaknesses in the comprehensive approach and the lack of common goals in the organisation. One intention of the reorganisation was also to increase the proportion of personnel with core skills. However, our analysis shows that the proportion of persons with management skills has increased at the expense of both core skills and support skills. SGU has itself not evaluated the new organisation. Statskontoret recommends SGU to perform such an evaluation. Among other matters, this should shed light on the need to have activities in multiple locations.

Weaknesses in internal control and monitoring

Statskontoret has found several weaknesses in the agency's internal control and monitoring of its activities. The control and monitoring is largely delegated to the departments and is poorly documented. Only two of the five departments have formulated goals for their activities. There is rarely any explicit link between the overall goals set for the whole agency and the goals formulated by each department.

The departments primarily follow up the work of geological information supply verbally. Neither management nor department heads has a complete overview of delays arising in the projects, despite there being indications that such delays are common. Neither has SGU any system to monitor the productivity, quality and efficiency of activities, except for parts of permit processing. However, since spring 2013, SGU has been working to develop key ratios in order to perform better monitoring. Statskontoret assesses the work to still be at an initial stage.

Statskontoret recommends SGU to introduce procedures for, among other things, how goals are to be operationalised and activities monitored. SGU should also develop metrics for quality, productivity and efficiency in its activities.

Difficult to determine if SGU is meeting society's needs

A central and important task for SGU is to meet the needs of society with respect to geological information. Responsibility for mapping these needs resides with the departments concerned. For SGU as a whole, this results in an unsystematic mapping of society's needs. As far as we have seen, there is also no written documentation of how the identified needs have been assessed and weighed against each other. At the same time, it should be noted that previous user surveys have expressed positive opinions about SGU's geological information. However, since the reorganisation in 2010, the agency has not conducted any broad user survey.

Statskontoret recommends SGU to regularly and systematically investigate and report the needs of society with respect to geological information.

Performance reporting deficient in transparency

Statskontoret believes that the performance section of SGU's annual report does not give the Government an adequate basis for assessing the quality and efficiency of its activities or future resource needs. There is, for example, no opportunity to evaluate SGU's performance in the major and important area of geological information supply. Neither is it possible to assess productivity or quality and to infer total costs. Above all, it is not possible to assess whether SGU's information gathering is really geared towards society's most important needs.

Statskontoret recommends SGU to develop its performance reporting in order to increase transparency and improve the Government's opportunities to assess the agency's results and financing needs.

Commissioned activities deficient in transparency

Our analysis also shows that the reporting of SGU's commissioned activities needs to be improved. For example, in the agency's annual report, it is not possible to infer financial performance for that part of commissioned activities financed by charges. It is therefore impossible to assess whether SGU charges its clients the correct amount. The fact that SGU risks competing with private companies makes transparent reporting additionally important. It is an important principle that agencies should not exert an adverse influence on market competition.

Statskontoret recommends the Government to place requirements on SGU to separately report revenue, expenditure and profit for its charge-financed commissions.

Some agency tasks have been given lower priority

Statskontoret notes that some of SGU's agency tasks have been given lower priority. The agency's processing times for matters relating to the Reindeer Husbandry Act (1971:437) have been long, and the supervision that SGU is to perform under the Act (1966:314) on the Continental Shelf has not been completed. Work on regulations has not always been based on the needs of the agencies that are to implement them.

Statskontoret recommends SGU to review how it prioritises its agency tasks. The agency management should ensure that this part of the activities has adequate resources.

External steering is fragmented

SGU's activities are not only steered through the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications, but also through the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. Both the formal and informal steering through these latter ministries are limited. Among other things, SGU's work to develop the water source archive is financed through grants from the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM), instead of this assignment being given directly by the Ministry of the Environment. As a result of this, SGU does not report this task to the Government, but to another agency.

Statskontoret recommends the Government to discuss the issue of financing for the work of such things as the water source archive with SwAM and SGU at future agency dialogues.