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Planned localisation of government activities – a survey of ten government agencies (2019:13)

On commission by the Government, the Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) has surveyed and compiled the plans of ten government agencies for their localisation.

The agencies included in the survey were the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen), the Swedish Board of Student Finance (CSN), the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan), the Swedish Prison and Probation Service, the Swedish Enforcement Authority, the Swedish Mapping, Cadastral and Land Registration Authority (Lantmäteriet), the Swedish Pensions Agency, the Swedish Police Authority, the Swedish Tax Agency, and the Swedish Transport Administration. We give an account of the agencies' plans and strategies up until 2022, as well as any localisation changes made in the period 2014–2018. We also report the number of offices per agency and how they are distributed over different counties and municipal groups in the years 2014, 2019, and 2022.

The localisation of most government agencies is stable

Most of the government agencies are not planning on making any major changes to their localisation. Nor have the government agencies implemented any extensive changes in their office structures between 2014 and 2018.

However, Arbetsförmedlingen and Lantmäteriet stand out from the general picture. Arbetsförmedlingen plans to close all its offices in approximately half of the municipalities where the agency is active today. Arbetsförmedlingen has also implemented extensive changes in the period 2014–2018, having closed all offices in 60 municipalities. Lantmäteriet closed all its activities in 19 municipalities between 2014 and 2018, but has no further plans to change its office structure.

Too small offices and problems with skills supply are common reasons for closing offices

The most important reasons for government agencies closing offices are that the operation is too small, there are issues of skills provision, that digitalisation reduces the need for a physical presence or that the working methods need to change. The general streamlining requirements placed on the government agencies is another reason for review and adaptation of their office structures.

Most government agencies have localisation strategies

The government agencies' localisation strategies often comprise a number of principles regarding where in the country they should be located.. The localisation is primarily a result of the agency's commission and needs. In general, long-term skills provision is also a central consideration for the agencies when deciding where they should be located. The opportunities afforded by digitalisation have led a number of agencies to conclude that the importance of a physical presence will decrease. These factors coincide with the results of Statskontoret's previous inquiry "Government agencies' localisation. Overall documentation" (2016).

Several agencies are planning on moving services from Stockholm to other parts of Sweden – but only within the existing office structure

Several government agencies are planning to move services from Stockholm to other parts of Sweden. They intend to implement these changes within their existing office structure. The Government's ambition to increase the number of government jobs outside of Stockholm is thereby implemented in several of the government agency strategies.

New establishments have mainly taken place in the form of service offices in rural municipalities
The government agencies have established new offices in 10 counties in the period 2014–2018. Most of the new establishments have been in rural municipalities, primarily through the new service offices established on the commission of the Government. For the period 2019–2022, only the Swedish Transport Administration is planning to establish an office in a municipality where they have not previously been present. Otherwise, no new establishments will be made in municipalities where the government agencies are not already operating.

Closings are most common in commuter municipalities

Government agencies have closed down offices in all counties except Gotland County. Most of them took place in the counties of Västra Götaland and Skåne, but these counties also have a large number of offices. We have also noted that offices are closed more often in commuter municipalities in the vicinity of smaller and greater cities, i.e. municipalities where at least 30 to 40 per cent of the population commute to another municipality for work. However, this will not cause any great change in how the ten government agencies' total number of offices are distributed between different counties and municipality types. The proportion of offices in commuter municipalities will be somewhat reduced, while the proportion of offices in smaller and greater cities will increase slightly.

The number of municipalities with at least one agency office will decrease in the period 2014–2022. In 2014, at least one of the municipalities included in our survey was represented by at least one office in nearly all municipalities (99 per cent). If these government agencies make the planned changes as intended, this proportion will be reduced to 91 per cent by 2022. The reduction is more noticeable when it comes to the number of municipalities with at least two offices. 89 per cent of the municipalities had at least two offices in 2014, as compared to 56 per cent in 2022.