The Swedish Agency for Public Management
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Nationalmuseum’s internal management, steering and follow-up (2019:16)

Nationalmuseum has been in a difficult financial situation in 2019, with large deficits and high fixed costs. The Government has therefore proposed allocating another SEK 52 million to the agency for 2019. There are different reasons for the situation at hand. They include increased costs as a result of the renovation of the museum's main building and significant public interest in conjunction with the reopening, in addition lower fee revenue than expected. Nationalmuseum has also indicated that the compensation for the free-entrance reform does not cover the agency's costs.

The assignment has not included investigating the financial situation, how it arose or what consequences it has had for the agency. The Government's steering has partially contributed to the problems and shortcomings in the management, steering and follow-up of Nationalmuseum. The reason being that the steering has been weak during a period when the agency would have needed more active steering. Instead, the Government's assignment to the Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) has been limited to analysing the effectiveness of Nationalmuseum's management, steering and follow-up, as well as the financial documentation submitted by the agency to the Government in recent years.

The financial documentation has not been effective

Statskontoret's analysis shows that the financial documentation provided to the Government by Nationalmuseum has not been effective. The documentation has not been sufficiently transparent, reliable, complete and understandable. This is a matter relating, for example, to a lack of necessary information regarding basic calculations, assumptions, uncertainties and risks, and a lack of consequence descriptions regarding internal and external changes and alternative courses of action. We also find that matters relating to changes in needs, assumptions and calculations between years and how increased costs are to be financed are not explained in the documentation. Several of the documents do not live up to the requirements regarding information set out in the regulatory framework for financial administration. For this reason, the documentation has not been suitable for the Government's financial management. Nor are they suitable for the agency's short and long-term planning and follow-up.

The management, steering and follow-up has not been effective

Our analysis also shows that the management, steering and follow-up at Nationalmuseum has not been effective. We find that Nationalmuseum lacks appropriate structures, processes and methods for planning, steering and following up its activities. The analysis also shows that matters relating to management, steering and follow-up have not been sufficiently prioritised and that matters of finance and financial management have struggled to make an impact at the agency. This means, for example, that Nationalmuseum does not live up to the provisions of the Government Agencies Ordinance. In the long term, this means that the agency cannot use its resources efficiently or use government funds economically.

There are several reasons for the shortcomings in management, steering and follow-up at Nationalmuseum. The agency has, for example, been affected by absent leadership and an ambiguous division of responsibilities for some time. There have also been flaws in the administrative culture within the agency. This has caused an informal leadership and informal methods to emerge within the agency. In this informal culture, the departments have solved some of their tasks in their own ways. Managers at the agency have had a strong position in relation to the executive management and staff, who in turn have had difficulties setting the direction for activities and leading the agency.

At the same time, the Government's steering of Nationalmuseum has been weak and sometimes unclear. The informal contacts between the agency and the Government Offices have been many, however, the aim and effect of these contacts have been unclear, and they have had consequences in terms of the effectiveness of the financial documentation. These contacts have also had consequences for the management, steering and follow-up within the agency.

The conditions for steering the activities have changed

At the same time, Nationalmuseum's conditions for steering and managing activities have changed in recent years. The renovation of the main building has for example entailed operating out of temporary premises for several years. The agency has also spent a lot of resources on the reopening. At the same time, the agency's commission has partially changed, with an increased focus on accessibility, the public assignment and striving to attain new target groups who are not familiar with the museum. The activities have also expanded through the larger areas in the main building and through the agency opening a new branch in Östersund and taking over the operation of the Gustavsberg Porcelain Museum. While the museum was closed, the free-entrance reform has also been implemented, which has had consequences for the agency's possibilities of financing the activities with fee revenue.

We assess that all of these circumstances, in combination with the shortcoming in management, steering and follow-up that we have identified in our analysis, have jointly contributed to the present financial situation.

Nationalmuseum has initiated a much needed development project

During 2018 and 2019, Nationalmuseum has initiated a project to develop its management, steering and follow-up. We view this as a positive development and believe it is necessary for the agency to manage current problems and future challenges.

But we also assess there to be certain risks involved in the development project. These relate, for example, to the project not being sufficiently established among employees and managers and the need for stamina in order to achieve any real change. We also make the assessment that issues relating to financial management have been too obscured in the agency's development efforts.