The Swedish Agency for Public Management

Agency analysis of the Swedish Companies Registration Office (2016:9)

On behalf of the government, Statskontoret (the Agency for Public Management) has analysed the Companies Registration Office according to the model for agency analyses. We have broadly reviewed the Office's conditions, operations, performance and challenges. Our commission has also included assessing the sustainability over of the current financing model of the Office, and some other specific issues.

The Office is the central administrative authority for company registration. The Office is financed to approximately 95% by fees, but it also receives an annual appropriation for certain tasks. It has approximately 550 employees and its operations are located in Sundsvall. 

The Companies Registration Office succeeds well

The overall assessment by Statskontoret is that the Office carries out its commission well. This applies to all parts of the organisation.

  • In its task as a registration authority, the Office achieves good results, with the exception of processing times for annual reports. Over time the Office has managed to achieve lower unit costs and increased digital accessibility for customers and stakeholders, at the same time as its tasks and the number of cases have both increased.
  • Among its contract activities, the Office primarily sells basic­ infor­mation about companies. There is great demand for this infor­ma­tion. Operations are generally conducted in a way that does not improperly­ compete ­with the other options that are available on the market.
  • In its development and collaborative role, the Office is a committed, dynamic and active government agency. It has contributed to important work in promoting the development of e-administration. However, Statskontoret notes­ that the Office's profit and loss account does not clearly­ show what results and effects the Office achieves in this area.

Our assessments of the specific task issues

The financing model's sustainability over time

Statskontoret considers that the Office's financing model has functioned­ well so far. The model has several advantages and we see no formal obstacles or reasons against the continued application of the current financing­ ­ model.

The model does have some drawbacks, however. In order to rectify these, there may be good reasons for the government to make a finer subdivision of the fee areas in the appropriations document of the Office, and to consider an administration grant to cover the costs that do not fit into the Office's fee budget. Alter­natively, a special grant could be given for individual tasks such as government­ com­missions, combined with the possibility of taking loans for investments­. 

The Companies Registration Office's work with simplification and digital accessibility

Statskontoret considers that the Office is skilled and has made good progress in simplifying tasks and being digitally accessible to customers.

The Companies Registration Office's work and planning for satisfied customers

The Office generally has satisfied customers and has also developed systems to gather customer feedback.

The Companies Registration Office's responsibilities under the government agencies ordinance

The Office's work with developing and streamlining its operations is both active and committed. According to Statskontoret, there is nothing to indicate that the Office­­, either in its work or in its contacts with the government, has fallen short of its responsibility under the government agencies ordinance of ensuring that its operations­ are carried out efficiently and in accordance with the legislation in force.

Self-initiated operations by the Companies Registration OfficeS

Statskontoret judges that self-initiated operations by the Office are limited. What exactly is meant by self-initiated operations is not self-evident, as this concept does not have a generally accepted definition.

Factors of particular importance for legal certainty

Statskontoret judges that the Office is careful in its work to ensure that its information is not made accessible in contravention of legally protected interests. The Office has the ambition of making as much information as possible accessible for others to use. It has progressed further than many other government agencies in this work. 

Challenges in the future

Statskontoret has identified a number of areas which the Office and the government need to develop for the Office to fulfil its commission in the future. We would particularly like to mention the following challenges.

Governance by the government and communication by the Companies Registration Office could be more clear

The government has described the Office's basic­ commission in a detailed manner in the letter of instruction and in various register statutes. In contrast to this, the government ­has not controlled the Office very closely on an annual basis. Only a very small part of the organisation is financed by grants, and the government has not given any specific guidelines for how the fees are to be determined­.

In the opinion of Statskontoret, there may be reasons for the government to further clarify the scope of the Office's commission, in particular with regard to the role of collaboration and development. This would also make it easier to determine what is self-initiated in the organisation.

The fact that there are certain ambiguities about the direction and the scope of the Office's commission depends partly on the Office's own actions. The Office should be clearer in its communications with the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation by improving its reports on collaboration and development activities, with the aim of clarifying what results and effects are being achieved.

Financing and commission with regard to the Office's collaboration should be clarified

Together with other government agencies, the Office operates a series of commissions and projects with the aim of developing agencies'­­ ­­ joint solutions, such as common reporting of information. The financing ­of this work currently depends to a large degree on the agencies agreeing among themselves.

Statskontoret considers that certain measures should be taken to develop this ­collaboration. A clearer allocation of responsibilities should be­ created, as well as more established forms of financing operations.

The government should decide on the financing of investment needs

The Office is faced with the need to invest in the modernisation and development­ of its IT systems, among other things. The costs of these extra­ investments are relatively limited compared with the Office's ordinary development of operations. In Statskontoret's opinion, financing should not be a fundamental problem. The financing solution that the Office is planning - to use its accumulated surplus - requires the government's­ approval, however. We believe that the government can and should make a decision in the very near future.

The Companies Registration Office is facing an adaptation of staff and skills

The Office is facing the need to adapt staff and skills as part of the development of e-administration towards more digital­ operations­. The Office has a systematic plan for this. Statskontoret therefore judges that there is only a small risk of adaptation becoming a major problem for the Office.