The Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) has evaluated, on behalf of the Swedish Government, how the organisation of real property formation (land parcelling) in the national government and 39 municipal cadastral and land registration authorities functions from the perspective of the requirements for a uniform and efficient operations conducted with legal certainty. Statskontoret has also investigated what measures Lantmäteriet has implemented in order to shorten processing times and reduce delays, and worked to identify what effects have been seen with the measures.
Real property formation is the exercise of public authority
Real property formation is the exercise of public authority which includes a focus on forming new real properties, changes in land parcelling, changes in property boundaries and creating rights such as easements or rights of way. Such measures may be needed i.a. in relation to the expansion of infrastructure or the construction of new housing. Via means of a cadastral procedure, the cadastral and land registration authority investigates if it is legally and practically possible to carry out the measures for which the owner or the interested party wants to have performed. The applicant party must pay a fee for the processing. The amount of the fee depends upon the amount of time the cadastral and land registration authority has expended with the case, and the tariffs it has adopted.
The cadastral and land registration authorities altogether perform close to 20,000 cadastral procedures each year. Lantmäteriet is responsible for more than 70 percent of these. In 2016, the cadastral and land registration authorities had a total of SEK 885 million in revenue from the cadastral procedures.
The method of organisation is unique and poses a risk of conflicts of interest in terms of roles
Real property formation is essentially a responsibility of the national government, however the Swedish Government has given 39 municipalities the permission to establish their own cadastral and land registration authority. In order to obtain permission, the municipality must fulfil certain preconditions in the law. As cadastral and land registration authorities, the national government and municipal governments are performing an almost identical activity, however within different geographic areas. In this way, the organisation is unique in the national government administration.
The organisation means that Lantmäteriet has multiple tasks and some of which may pose a risk of role conflicts. In addition to conducting cadastral procedures, Lantmäteriet provides support for the entire operation and supervision of the municipal cadastral and land registration authorities. In addition, the Agency issues opinions as the only referral body concerning requests from municipalities that have expressed a desire to form their own cadastral and land registration authority.
Long processing times in the formation of real property
Long processing times in the formation of real property (land parcelling) can lead to a situation where important social processes that are dependent upon the cadastral and land registration authorities’ decision, will take longer. In recent years, Lantmäteriet has been faced with increasing problems with long turnaround times for processing. The simplest cases are currently taking the authority average of 27 weeks to process; and the most difficult one as much as 169 weeks. However during the bulk of the processing time, the case remains untouched in a queue, awaiting some action or another.
The overall personnel resources are not utilised effectively or efficiently
Statskontoret’s assessment is that the present organisation results in that overall the collective personnel resources in the formation of real property are not effectively or efficiently utilised. The shared responsibility as principle contributes to the lock-in of resources, but also results in competition for personnel. The problem has become more apparent as in that there is a shortage of cadastral surveyors. Certain cadastral and land registration authorities have a number of outstanding cases, but there is no possibility of transferring the cases between the various public authorities. However on the other hand Lantmäteriet is able to allocate cases between its offices so as to utilise resources efficiently.
The interested parties are not treated equally in the pricing
It is Statskontoret’s assessment that the situation with the organisation contributes to the fact that the concerned parties are not treated in a consistently uniform and equal manner, especially when it comes to the price they pay for the cadastral procedure. This is also due to that the national government allows municipal cadastral and land registration authorities to charge lower fees than those Lantmäteriet have decided are to apply. Therefore, Statskontoret proposes that the Government establishes the preconditions for more uniform pricing in cadastral procedure operations.
However it is Statskontoret’s assessment that there are good preconditions for a uniform application of the law via the cadastral and land registration authorities’ joint support, tools and procedures, in order to regularly review the quality of a selection of cadastral procedure decisions.
Lantmäteriet’s overall responsibility for real property formation is unclear
Lantmäteriet has overall responsibility for the formation of real property and has the responsibility to work for a unified uniform and consistent cadastral procedure operations that is appropriate for its purposes. For a long time, Lantmäteriet has been assisting the entire operation with various different types of support, such as IT support for the processing and administration, and support in property law and legal matters, however it has been forced to cut back on the support as a consequence of a shortage of personnel. It is not clear what the support should contain and what Lantmäteriet and the municipalities should finance, leading to negotiations on this. Statskontoret suggests that the Government clarifies the national government’s responsibility for the formation of real property and what it means for Lantmäteriet’s support to the municipal cadastral and land registration authorities.
Municipal cadastral and land registration authorities work well across-the-board
From what Statskontoret can assess, the cadastral procedure operations in the municipalities are functioning well across-the-board. In relation to Lantmäteriet, they have a stable and experienced workforce and their cadastral procedure decisions are roughly of the same quality. For simple cases, on average they also have a somewhat shorter processing time than at Lantmäteriet.
Municipalities with their own cadastral and land registration authority are of the view that they will have a better coordination between the real property formation and the planning and construction process, and that their detailed plans are getting better. The Government’s and Riksdag’s goal of allowing certain municipalities to establish their own municipal cadastral and land registration authority has thus largely been fulfilled.
The requirements for establishing a municipal cadastral and land registration authority have increased
Since 2015, six municipalities applied for permission to form a municipal cadastral and land registration authority. The Government has so far considered and rejected two of the applications. The decisions can be interpreted as meaning that the Government is of the opinion that Sweden has sufficient enough municipal cadastral and land registration authorities in order for the national government to be able to maintain the operations throughout the country. The Government now sets higher requirements on the scope and expertise of the operations than previously. This means that there is a difference between the law and what occurs in practice. Statskontoret is of the view that the changed requirements should be reflected in the law and therefore suggests that the Government clarify which operational basis and what expertise is required as a prerequisite for a municipality to be allowed to establish a cadastral and land registration authority.
Lack of information about the overall performance of these activities
The Government has not taken an active role to manage and monitor the overall formation of real property and has largely ceded the monitoring and following up of municipal activities to Lanmäteriet. Therefore, there is no information available concerning the performance and efficiency of the activities as a whole. The transparency in the municipal activity carried out is generally lower than in the national government. The municipal cadastral and land registration authorities are rarely subject to supervision and the results of the supervision are presented only briefly in summary format. Therefore it is difficult to make an overall assessment regarding how the individual public authorities fulfil their remit and responsibilities.
The municipal cadastral and land registration authorities’ permissions are subject to conditions. Therefore, Statskontoret’s assessment is the Government can establish a requirement that they make reports to report back on the activities’ performance. Statskontoret therefore suggests that the Government develop performance management and clarify Lantmäteriet’s responsibility for monitoring and the municipal cadastral and land registration authorities’ responsibility for reporting back.
Many remedial measures taken, but still no effect on processing times
Via its transformation efforts over the past five years, Lantmäteriet has implemented many measures including utilising personnel resources more efficiently and effectively, and achieving a more consistent and uniform treatment of the interested parties. Among the more important remedial measures includes the equalisation efforts and levelling of production, plus a team-based and process-oriented way of working. The benefits with the new ways of working have not yet been fully realised in the organisation.
It is Statskontoret’s assessment that Lantmäteriet’s measures have been both necessary and relevant, however but they have not been sufficiently robustly geared to reduce delays and shorten processing times. In addition, so far the measures have not had any noticeable impact on the processing times. To the contrary; during the first half of 2017, processing times have actually been longer. However cases concerning new residential housing have shorter processing turnaround time than the average, due to that they are often given priority.
Lantmäteriet estimates that until July 2018 they will not be able to reach the Government’s target of a maximum 40-week processing time on average for cases that have been submitted over the past five years. On the other hand however, Lantmäteriet’s assessment is that the target goal will be exceeded at the end of 2019 when the Authority has implemented the more than 30 measures which they notified the Government of in May.
Several explanations as to why the impacts are delayed
One explanation for the lengthy processing times is that Lantmäteriet has a shortage of cadastral surveyors, and particularly those with relevant experience. Other explanations as for why the effects are delayed include that Lantmäteriet has not managed the activities and the work with the transformation processes sufficiently cohesively.
Until a few years ago, the Authority did not have sufficient control over its cadastral procedure cases and in addition has imposed too minimal requirements that they be dealt with actively. The cases have been able to be left untouched for long periods of time and the Authority still have many old cases outstanding which they are now attempting to conclude. Statskontoret suggests that Lantmäteriet establish a clear goal for when the Authority will/should have completed all the cases that are older than five years.
The development of activities within the formation of real property has also been a relatively low priority of Lantmäteriet’s management and it got a late start. Therefore the operations have outdated IT support and are far behind in their digitisation efforts. In order to shorten the processing times, Lantmäteriet now has high hopes for the effect of increased digitisation of the cadastral procedure process. Taking into account the major risks that ordinarily exist with large-scale IT projects, Statskontoret suggests that Lantmäteriet prepare cost-benefit calculations and have well-developed procedures in place so as to manage and monitor the projects.
The work relating to the transformation process has gained new momentum, but requires clear direction
Lantmäteriet’s efforts to facilitate the transformation process has gained new momentum as a result of the Government clear demands for shorter processing times. Many new measures are being planned. Statskontoret can not assess how likely it is that Lantmäteriet could exceed the Government’s target for processing time by the end of 2019. In its report to the Government, Lantmäteriet did not make it sufficiently how the Authority will take on the ongoing further work and the measures presented.
Lantmäteriet has had some problems in the management of the transformation process so far. In order to achieve success in the Agency’s continuing work, Statskontoret suggests i.a. that Lantmäteriet sets out a clear overall direction with measurable goals that are able to be monitored. The efforts that have the greatest significance in terms of being able to shorten the processing times should be given priority. Major changes should also be preceded by a risk analysis along with a plan for how the measures will be monitored and evaluated. Lantmäteriet should also develop indicators to be able to better understand and monitor how the progress with the most important elements of the transformation process are progressing and what they lead to in terms of results.