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When planning meets reality – Internal leadership, governing and follow-up with the Swedish Armed Forces (2018:27)

The government has commissioned Statskontoret (the Swedish Agency for Public Management) to analyse the financial documentation the Swedish Armed Forces have presented to the government to see if it is appropriate for the budget process. Statskontoret will also propose how conditions can be improved to ensure functioning leadership, governance and follow-up procedures within the Swedish Armed Forces.

The documentation is unsatisfactory

We are of the opinion that the financial documentation submitted to the government by the Swedish Armed Forces does not meet the purpose of the government's financial management, planning and follow-up procedures. Documentation has been unclear regarding the agency's economic situation and needs.

The financial documentation has not been sufficiently transparent, for example documentation has been incomplete or suitably comprehensible or reliable. This is a result of the Swedish Armed Forces acting based on assumptions for future contributions, that the investment plan fails to follow government regulations for state investments and that consequence descriptions have not been sufficiently clear and accurate.

However, we also believe that the Swedish Armed Forces have improved the documentation and internal steering and follow-up procedures. This increases the prerequisites for more suitable documentation. Nevertheless, a great deal of work remains.

Management has not established whether the agency uses its resources efficiently

We believe that the Swedish Parliament, government and the Swedish Armed Forces have introduced risks and uncertainties into the planning. Therefore, the Swedish Armed Forces must annually produce a plan that goes beyond the agency's funding. This has led to the Swedish Armed Forces having to repeatedly re-plan, postpone, reduce and remove planned activities, supplies and steps to maintain materials.

Shared responsibility for the problems and deficiencies

Our analysis has shown that there are several reasons for the problems and deficiencies in the financial documentation and internal management. These are due in part to factors under the control of the Armed Forces and in part for factors under the control of the government and the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration.

For example, the Swedish Armed Forces have interpreted the agency's tasks and targets far too ambitiously. Consequently, the Armed Forces have planned more investments and activities than the budget allows for. The Swedish Armed Forces have also based planning on assumptions for future financial contributions. Hence, the Swedish Armed Forces have made important decisions and prioritisations before the coming focus period.

Steering from the Swedish Parliament and government has also contributed to the problems and deficiencies in both the financial documentation from the Swedish Armed Forces and the organisation's management. We believe that certain decisions from the Swedish parliament and government regarding new efforts, investments and raised ambitions have neither been in line with the operation nor been financially possible. We also believe that the government has not assisted the agency with its overall prioritisations. The government has simultaneously limited the Swedish Armed Forces' possibility to distribute resources and prioritise within the organisation.

We also believe that deficiencies in interaction between the Armed Forces and Swedish Defence Material Administration have contributed to the problems in the planning. This is because the Armed Forces have not received the necessary documentation and that there are shortcomings in descriptions provided to the Armed Forces by the Defence Material Administration. Nor have the Swedish Armed Forces been able to reassess and assure the quality of documentation from the Swedish Defence Material Administration.

Statskontoret's proposals

Statskontoret believes that several aspects of the system need to be changed in a cohesive manner in order to solve the problems and rectify shortcomings. We are of the opinion that defence has been characterised by inconsistencies between the relevant actors for too long, hence why the problems with the Armed Forces finances and planning arise part way through a focus period. In order to attain lasting change and provide the Armed Forces with long-term planning conditions, the government, Swedish Armed Forces and Swedish Defence Material Administration need to act appropriately and take joint responsibility to tackle the problems and deficiencies. Therefore, we propose that the Swedish Armed Forces and the government commit to:

  • establishing the documentation so it is more suited to the budget process
  • improving conditions for successful leadership, management and follow-up procedures within the Swedish Armed Forces.

Proposals for more appropriate documentation

We suggest that the Swedish Ministry of Defence launches and manages work to develop suitable procedures in the budget documentation. Hence, the government needs to clarify its expectations for the documentation, as the Ministry of Defence and Swedish Armed Forces do not have the same interpretation of adequate budget documentation. The Ministry of Defence's Department for Military Capability and Operations should have primary responsibility for the work. With this work, the Department should collaborate with the Swedish Armed Forces, other departments at the Ministry of Defence and the necessary units of the Government offices.

We also propose that the Swedish Armed Forces develop efficiency in budget documentation and ensure that investment plans follow regulations for state investments. Regarding the investment plan, the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Defence Material Administration need to develop the descriptions of the financial risks of the various projects.

We believe that there is room for improvement in the assistance provided to the Armed Forces by the Defence Material Administration for planning materials and supplying logistics. At the same time, the Swedish Armed Forces can provide the Defence Material Administration with better conditions to conduct their tasks. Hence, we suggest that the government introduces this collaboration into both the agencies' ordinances with instruction. The government should also task the Swedish National Financial Management Authority to evaluate the division of responsibility and collaboration between the two agencies.

Proposals for improved leadership, management and follow-up procedures

We believe that the government must ensure that new political decisions concerning the Swedish Armed Forces are financially and organisationally feasible. Therefore, the government must ensure that consequence analyses and cost calculations provided by different actors prior to defence policy decisions fulfil the requirements in the committee ordinance, guidelines for work with consequence analyses at the Government offices and the proposition handbook.

The Armed Forces should subsequently develop their processes to direct, plan and follow-up activities. We propose that the Swedish Armed Forces turn over the agency's planning perspective, so the financial framework may steer planning in both the short and long term. The Swedish Armed Forces should also introduce a principle that the agency may not plan for more investments and activities that the frameworks allow. We also suggest that the role and responsibilities of the commands staff is strengthened to ensure that short- and long-term planning is in line with activities and financially viable.

We propose that the government strengthens and develops resource management for the Swedish Armed Forces to make it easier for the Armed Forces to manage risks and uncertainties with planning. We are of the opinion that the government needs to provide the Swedish Armed Forces with greater possibility to independently allocate resources and prioritise them within the organisation.

We believe that the Ministry of Defence needs to systematise the informal contacts with the Swedish Armed Forces. In turn, the Swedish Armed Forces need to develop their procedures for accepting management from the government and to systematise their informal contacts with the Government offices.