The Swedish Agency for Public Management

Establishment of the National Agency for Public Procurement. An interim report (2016:15)

The National Agency for Public Procurement was established in September 2015. The agency took over the government support and information activities associated with public procurement - including innovation procurement and the work with en­vironmental criteria - from the Swedish Competition Authority.

Statskontoret (The Swedish Agency for Public Management) has been commissioned by the Government to follow up and evaluate the esta­blish­ment of the Swedish Agency for Public Procurement. This document constitutes an interim re­port of this commission. Statskontoret will produce a final report on the commission no later than 31 October 2017.

The National Agency for Public Procurement has only existed for a short time, and it often takes time for a newly founded agency to firmly establish an organisation and administrative routines. It is therefore not possible in this interim report to make a more precise assessment of how various aspects of the agency's work contribute to achievement of the Government's goals for public procurement. Stats­kontoret's assessment with regard to the agency's goals and activities is thus of a more general nature.

The work of the National Agency for Public Procurement contributes to the Government's goals for public procurement

The Government's goals for public procurement entail that it is to be effec­tive and legally secure and take advantage of competition on the market, whilst promoting innovative solutions and observing environmental and social concerns.

Statskontoret's overall assessment of the National Agency for Public Procurement's ini­ti­­al work is that it contributes to the Government's goals for public procurement. Its contribution could however be greater if the agency had not experienced problems with management, governance and organisation of its op­er­ations.

The agency's organisation is unclear

The organisation of the various units under the National Agency for Public Procurement is the same as when the activities were conducted by the Swedish Competition Authority. The organisation has not func­tioned well within the National Agency for Public Procurement. The areas of responsibility are unclear, and the division of res­pons­ibility between the units overlaps.

There has been a lack of goals and priorities for activities

In March 2016, the National Agency for Public Procurement made a decision regarding its oper­atio­nal plan. Up until this point, the agency lacked goals and deliberate priorities for its activities.­­ This has meant that management has sometimes had difficulties prioritising what employees are to focus on. The agency's commission from the Government has been of high priority, but it is otherwise unclear as to why some projects have taken priority over others.­­ Statskontoret also establishes that some projects have had no project plan and that timetables, where these have actually been drawn up, have not always been followed.­­­

Temporary leadership has contributed to weaken governance 

Statskontoret's assessment is that a significant part of the problems that have come to our attention are a product of the agency lacking regular and permanent managers. When the agency was established, an acting director-general was appointed, and out of six other managers, only one had a permanent position.­­ It was also unclear for a long time as to how long the acting director-general's appointment would last.

Pending the appointment of a successor, the acting director-general has delayed the matter of recruiting management and implementing a necessary re-organisation of the activities. The employees consider the current management to have major shortcomings in terms of leadership, clarity and the capacity to disseminate information. Several of the managers also have a lack of leader­ship experience. Overall, Statskontoret believes that the temporary leader­ship has contributed to weak governance of the agency and low confidence in its management.

The work with social concerns requires development

The Government's goals for public procurement clarify its intentions to promote innovative solutions and help to ensure that environmental and social concerns are observed in the procurements. Statskontoret's assessment is that it will be possible for the National Agency for Public Procurement to achieve the goals associated with establishment of the agency within this area.

Social concerns as an area is the one where the most work remains for the National Agency for Public Procurement if it is to provide an effective contribution to the Government's goals for public procurement.­­ It is also an area which is under­developed within the agency. Considering the large demand for supp­ort material which exists, it is important for the National Agency for Public Procurement to prioritise the work with social concerns.­

Conditions to meet goals exist

The agency's operational plan for 2016 presents a model for the governance of activities. In this model, goals and strategies are specified which are to govern the activities of the various units. The agency has also developed a process for follow-up which includes requirements for quarterly follow-ups of all activities. Key figures have also been produced for a number of areas to facilitate these follow-ups.

The operational plan explains that the agency has identified the issues which Statskontoret considers most important to work with in order to achieve a well-functioning operation.­­­ These are

  • supporting the management group in order to facilitate clear and communicative leadership­­
  • organising the division of responsibility between the units in an appropriate and clear manner and involving the employees in the work­
  • working to create an identity for the agency as a whole
  • prioritising work with social concerns.

The governance model also lays the foundations for

  • clarifying priorities and concrete goals in the activities
  • correctly allocating resources to projects and activities
  • improving the follow-up and analysis of the outcomes of activities.

Statskontoret's assessment is that once the National Agency for Public Procurement has im­plem­ented the governance model, there will be a firmer foundation on which to conduct efficient and legally secure activities and achieve the goals set by the Government when establishing the agency.