Continued forms for governing the digitalisation policy area (2020:3)
Evaluation of Digitaliseringsrådet, the Swedish National Digitalisation Council, and survey of the Swedish Government's governance of the policy area.
The Swedish National Digitalisation Council (Digitaliseringsrådet) is the organisation that during the period 2017 - 2020 has been commissioned by the Swedish Government to promote the Government's implementation of the digitalisation strategy. This is done via, for example, analysis and follow-up of the goals of the digitalisation strategy.
The Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) has, at the request of the Swedish Government, evaluated the Swedish National Digitalisation Council's organisation and work, and investigated the need for and possible forms of a comprehensive and continuous responsibility for implementing, following up and analysing the digitalisation policy area. The assignment has also included the systematically mapping out of structures for analysing, following up and implementing the digitalisation policy that currently exists at the central government level.
The Swedish Government has structures in order to implement the digitalisation policy
Statskontoret is of the opinion that the Swedish Government has government structures for the carrying out of initiatives in most areas of the digitalisation strategy. There are few central government agencies and other central government organisation that have a direct and explicit responsibility to work towards achieving the goals of the digitalisation policy. However, many public authorities and other central government organisations are responsible for initiatives that indirectly contribute to the objectives of the digitalisation policy, despite the fact that the public authorities primarily operate in other areas. The Swedish Government often controls these initiatives via temporary government mandates or assignments. Several public authorities also contribute indirectly to the objectives of the digitalisation policy via the carrying out of tasks according to their instruction.
There is no comprehensive and long-term responsibility for monitoring and analysing the digitalisation policy
Statskontoret notes the lack of a comprehensive and long-term responsibility for monitoring and analysing the digitalisation policy area. The public authorities responsible for specific sectors and statistics monitor, and to some extent analyse, parts of the digitalisation policy area. However, when the work of the Swedish National Digitalisation Council concludes at the end of 2020, there will be no organisation responsible for the overall follow-up, analysis and evaluation of the implementation of the digitalisation policy area as a whole. This means that the Swedish Government will lack a basis for continuously assessing what changes or further initiatives are needed in order to achieve the objectives of the digitalisation strategy. This risks making the implementation of the policy area less effective.
The Swedish National Digitalisation Council has made a relevant contribution, however the organisation has some limitations
Statskontoret has made the assessment that the Swedish National Digitalisation Council, has contributed to improve the Swedish Government's preconditions for implementing and developing the digitalisation policy area. The actual impact of the Swedish National Digitalisation Council's proposal has however, so far, been limited. The Council's primary contribution has been the overall monitoring and analyses of the development of the digitalisation policy area that the Council has submitted to the Swedish Government. The advice and knowledge that the Council has assisted the Swedish Government with during the Council's meetings has also been of importance in order to increase the Swedish Government and the Government Offices understanding of a rapidly changing field such as digitalisation.
At the same time, Statskontoret notes that the Swedish National Digitalisation Council has had limited resources and mandates in relation to its broad assignment and responsibilities. It is also an organisation with a time limited assignment. Combined with unclear governance by the Swedish Government, this has impaired the impact of the Council's work.
Statskontoret is of the opinion that some of the tasks of the Swedish National Digitalisation Council can be dealt with more effectively by distributing responsibilities and tasks in a (partially) entirely new way. It is of particular importance that the Swedish Government ensures a long-term perspective and continuity when it comes to monitoring and analysing the digitalisation policy.
Therefore Statskontoret proposes that the Government should:
- provide the Agency for Digital Government (Myndigheten för digital förvaltning, DIGG) an instructional task to follow up and analyse the society's digitalisation based on the objectives of the digitalisation policy,
- streamline the tasks of the Swedish National Digitalisation Council to assist the Swedish Government with advice and knowledge in the field of digitalisation, and thus shutting down the Swedish National Digitalisation Council's offices.
We are of the opinion that some of the tasks of the Swedish National Digitalisation Council are best dealt with within the existing government structures. The evaluation of initiatives within the digitalisation policy area and of the development of the policy area in relation to the objectives should be dealt with by the public authorities concerned with analysis and evaluation or through the committee system. The coordination of the Government of Sweden's work with the digitalisation policy should be dealt with within the Government Offices.
We also hold the opinion that the public authorities' efforts to coordinate and promote the implementation of the digitalisation policy area is most effectively dealt with in the existing forms of cooperation and collaboration between the public authorities and other stakeholders.