The Swedish Agency for Public Management
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Establishment of the National Agency for Public Procurement (UHM). Final Report (2017:17)

The National Agency for Public Procurement (Upphandlingsmyndigheten) was established two years ago, in September of 2015. The Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) has been commissioned by the Swedish Government to conduct a follow-up review and evaluate the establishment of the Agency. On 30 May 2016, the Swedish Agency for Public Management submitted an interim report regarding the assignment to the Government (Ministry of Finance). This present report is Statskontoret’s final report regarding the assignment.

The National Agency for Public Procurement contributes to the objectives for public procurement to varying degrees, but could have contributed more

The Government’s objectives for public procurement is that it is efficient with legal certainty, and takes advantage of market competition. At the same time, public procurement should promote innovative solutions, taking environmental considerations and social considerations into account. Statskontoret’s assessment is that the National Agency for Public Procurement has contributed and continues to contribute to the various aspects of the Government’s objectives, to varying degrees.

Statskontoret’s analysis shows that the National Agency for Public Procurement would have been able to have contributed more to all aspects of the Government’s objectives for the Agency if it had had better external and internal preconditions. Thus there is room for developing the national government’s support for public procurement. Statskontoret also notes that the National Agency for Public Procurement has a broad remit and extensive, heterogeneous target groups. Therefore it is essential that the Agency has extensive knowledge about the target groups’ needs, knowledge, and skills. Based on this knowledge of the target groups, the Agency needs to establish clear priorities in the work of support for procurements.

Statskontoret has made the assessment that the National Agency for Public Procurement contributes to the objective of procurements that complies with the legal certainty requirements of the rule of law and to the objective of promoting environmental considerations in the procurement process to a relatively high extent. The Agency can contribute to a more legally secure procurement if they develop the legal support to be more educational and useful in practice.

It is Statskontoret’s assessment that the National Agency for Public Procurement contributes, to a certain extent, to the objective of efficient procurements that take advantage of competition. Until recently, the Agency’s personnel resources in this area has been limited. As a result, this has meant that at the present time there is a large scope for further development of the support in this area. This primarily concerns the support for the implementation of the purchasing process and support for the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises and non-profit organisation participating in procurements.

Statskontoret’s documentation provides no clear picture of the extent to which the National Agency for Public Procurement contributes to the goal of promoting innovative procurement. Our background documentation shows that the target groups’ perception is that the legal situation concerning innovative procurement is unclear. It is a challenge for the National Agency for Public Procurement to reach out to more parties with concrete and educational support in order to show how innovative procurement can be carried out legally correct.

Statskontoret’s assessment is that presently the National Agency for Public Procurement contributes only to a limited extent to the objective of promoting the integration of social considerations in public procurement. There is a large scope to further develop the support within the area and the Agency has recently begun working more actively to develop this support.

The Agency needs to ensure that it gains access to the requisite expertise as well as to improve its internal governance

The National Agency for Public Procurement is still in an initial development phase, due to a number of different circumstances. The delayed start of the ordinary General Director seven months after the Agency was formed continues to have a negative impact on its operations. The temporary management led to a situation where the management of the activities was weak in the start-up phase and that the requisite reorganisation was delayed. The Agency has been working under a new organisational structure since 1 January 2017, and is now more clearly oriented towards its target groups. The Agency develops and maintains guidance and support for internal work processes. It is also working to further develop its internal management and monitoring of the operations, which in the assessment of Statskontoret, is essential.

The Agency has recently considerably increased its staffing and is now fully staffed for the first time. At the present, the Agency does not have any long-term strategy for gaining access to the requisite expertise it needs. Earlier difficulties with recruiting in combination with a high turnover of personnel remain the primary reason why the Agency has not exhausted the funds allocated to it for 2016 and probably will not do so in 2017 either.

Statskontoret proposes that the National Agency for Public Procurement:

  • prioritises the work already begun to analyse the needs of the target groups and allows this analysis to form the basis for the necessary priorities in the work with supporting procurement
  • develops cooperation with Government agencies with relevant expertise, in order to increase access to requisite expertise and develop the activities related to the monitoring of events in an effective manner
  • implements measures that ensure the Agency’s long-term ability to obtain the requisite expertise
  • internally anchors the guidelines and timetables that the Agency provides for the internal control and monitoring of operations
  • continues its work to promote internal collaboration. 

Temporary assignments have complicated the long-term planning

Statskontoret’s assessment is that the interim tasks assigned to the Authority by the Government have been extensive, especially given the fact that the Agency has been in a start-up phase and in 2016 received new senior management. On the one hand, the responsibilities assigned have ensured that the Agency has been working with the issues that the Government has assigned the highest priority to and that the issues received attention externally. On the other hand, the assignments have limited the Agency’s preconditions to establish long-term prioritisation of the direction and focus of its activities, based on its directive. The National Agency for Public Procurement has at times received assignments on short notice, which has led to the need for temporary additional staffing. This has complicated the Agency’s planning. 

Statskontoret recommends that the Government:

  • in its governance of the National Agency for Public Procurement, take into account that due to previous circumstances the Agency is still in an early development phase
  • where possible hold off providing additional assignments until the National Agency for Public Procurement has fully built up its operations.