The Government has commissioned the Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) to evaluate how the county administrative boards' coordination of supervision and supervisory guidance within the area of trustees and administrators functions. The commission includes considering whether a central actor should be given specific responsibility for this coordination.
Seven of the county administrative boards* supervise Sweden's approximately 230 municipal chief guardian committees. These county administrative boards shall also guide the chief guardians in their supervision of trustees and administrators. The supervisory guidance shall primarily contribute to the uniform application of legislation by the chief guardians.
The county administrative boards' coordination needs improvement
Statskontoret finds that the county administrative boards' coordination work in recent years has created the conditions for a more uniform supervision of the chief guardians throughout the country. This work has led the seven county administrative boards to interpret the supervisory rules in a similar way and to having common guidelines and methods for their supervision. In the context of the coordination, the county administrative boards also identify certain areas each year that they consider the supervision of chief guardians should focus on in particular.
However, our evaluation also indicates that there are areas in the county administrative boards' coordination that they can improve in order for their supervision and supervisory guidance to be as effective and appropriate as possible. For example, the county administrative boards have difficulty agreeing on concrete measures that can contribute to more uniform and effective supervision. The county administrative boards also have partly different views on what the focus of the supervision should be. Furthermore, our evaluation indicates that the county administrative boards do not sufficiently communicate to the chief guardians why they sometimes choose to conduct supervision in different ways. The consequence of this is that the chief guardians find the supervision of the county administrative boards to be unclear and unpredictable.
The county administrative boards do not provide particularly active supervisory guidance to the chief guardians. For example, the county administrative boards do not have a common focus for their guidance work. Nor do they provide regular and systematic guidance based on an analysis of the chief guardians' needs. The chief guardians therefore primarily turn to other actors instead of the county administrative board when they need advice and support in their assignment.
The Government should appoint a county administrative board to be a coordinating authority
Statskontoret proposes that the Government give one of the seven county administrative boards the assignment of coordinating the county administrative boards' work within the area. We refer to this role as a coordinating authority.
Our assessment is that a county administrative board has better prerequisites for coordinating the work of county administrative boards than any other type of government agency. Our assessment is based, among other things, on the fact that five of the seven county administrative boards would prefer a county administrative board to be assigned the role of central coordinating authority. We also conclude that there is no other central government agency that is closely linked to the area. This means that if such a government agency were to be given the coordination assignment, it would need to work to develop competence that already exists among the seven county administrative boards.
In addition, our assessment is that a county administrative board with central responsibility could clarify the supervision and supervisory guidance, and at the same time utilise the benefits of a relatively decentralised supervisory organisation. One such benefit is that the local knowledge would be greater if the coordinating responsibility remains with one of the county administrative boards.
Statskontoret's assessment is that our proposal for a coordinating authority will entail that the designated county administrative board's costs will increase by around SEK 1,500,000 per year. Other county administrative boards' costs will not be affected by our proposal. Furthermore, we believe that our proposal does not risk curtailing the municipal self-governance.
Assignment of the coordinating authority
Statskontoret proposes that the county administrative board appointed by the Government as the coordinating authority be instructed to establish a new and broad collaboration group that comprises representatives from the municipalities and county administrative boards. Statskontoret believes that such a forum could increase the chief guardians' understanding of how the county administrative boards function. The forum also gives the county administrative boards greater opportunities to establish support for the activities they are planning and to get feedback from the chief guardians. This should in turn increase the clarity of how the county administrative boards implement both the supervision and supervisory guidance.
Furthermore, Statskontoret proposes that the coordinating authority serve as convener in the county administrative boards' current collaboration group for chief guardianship matters. In this constellation, the coordinating authority should assume primary responsibility for the following:
- following up, evaluating and developing the county administrative boards' supervision
- developing the county administrative boards' supervisory guidance to the chief guardians
- analysing the chief guardians' needs for advice and support
- developing method support for the chief guardians' supervision
- monitoring that the training of the chief guardians is satisfactory
- ensuring a more systematic exchange of knowledge between the county administrative boards
- issuing directions for the chief guardians' supervision.
*The county administrative boards in Dalarna, Norrbotten, Skåne, Stockholm, Västernorrland, Västra Götaland and Östergötland.