Crisis Management in the Swedish Government Offices

In Sweden it is fundamental to crisis management that:

  • the person responsible for a service in normal circumstances is also responsible for it in an emergency (the principle of responsibility)
  • in an emergency, public services function as far as possible in the same way as under normal circumstances
  • an emergency is handled where it occurs, by those immediately affected and those responsible.

The Government is responsible for crisis management at national level. In this respect the Government Offices is the Government's body of staff. The Government's responsibility for crisis management applies primarily to strategic matters, while responsibility for management and coordination of the purely practical work lies with the agencies concerned.

Within the Government Offices the principle of responsibility is the basis for work during crises. The Government's crisis management is based on:

  • a Director-General for Crisis Management,
  • a Crisis Management Coordination Secretariat,
  • the ministries' crisis management organisations and
  • a Strategic Coordination Group

The ministries

The expert knowledge of the ministries is necessary for handling emergencies. The ministries are responsible in emergencies for their own policy areas, while the Crisis Management Coordination Secretariat is responsible for coordination and support, an overall picture of the situation and a joint overall analysis.

Each ministry must have an crisis management plan and an crisis management organisation. There must be an appointed crisis management group that has undergone exercises and there must be a high level of accessibility at the ministries. Each ministry must therefore have an official on standby.

In an emergency the ministries must be able to:

  • receive and pass on alarms,
  • alarm those concerned within the ministry's own organisation,
  • call in staff for service,
  • contact and coordinate with agencies within the ministry's area of responsibility.

Strategic Coordination Group

There is a Strategic Coordination Group for crisis management in the Government Offices. The Group consists of the State Secretary of the ministry affected by a serious incident. The Group is led by the Prime Minister's State Secretary or the State Secretary that he or she appoints. The Group's task in an emergency is to:

  • determine the strategic focus of Government Offices,
  • prepare matters rapidly and
  • resolve disagreements.

Director-General for Crisis Management

The Director-General for Crisis Management is based in the Prime Minister's Office and leads the Crisis Management Coordination Secretariat. His or her immediate manager is the Prime Minister's State Secretary. The task of the Director-General for Crisis Management is to:

  • develop,
  • coordinate and
  • follow up crisis management activities.

To develop crisis management capacity in the Government Offices the Director-General for Crisis Management can issue guidelines on the basic level each ministry should have for crisis management, on training and exercises etc. Coordination means synchronising the work when several ministries are concerned, having a holistic approach and facilitating inter-ministry work within the Government Offices. Follow-up refers to monitoring capacity for crisis management within the Government Offices.

In an emergency, the Director-General for Crisis Management shall ensure that work is started up and coordinate and support the work within the Government Offices.

Crisis Management Coordination Secretariat

The Director-General for Crisis Management has the assistance of a Crisis Management Coordination Secretariat. The responsibilities of the Secretariat are:

  • policy intelligence and situation reporting,
  • crisis management and crisis communications,
  • analysis and
  • being a central contact point at the Government.

The Secretariat shall conduct continual policy intelligence activities. The Secretariat follows events both inside and outside Sweden round the clock. The Secretariat also fulfils an important function by supporting the ministries in their development of crisis management and crisis communication, by arranging training and exercises and producing analyses of threats and risks that could affect Sweden.

In an emergency the Secretariat shall support the Government Offices in managing the emergency. Tasks included in crisis management are raising the alarm, obtaining an overall picture of the situation and a view of the joint impact on society of all the individual events. The Head of the Secretariat shall also, if necessary, be able to start crisis management measures in the Government Offices. After the emergency has been dealt with the Secretariat must be able to follow up and evaluate the measures taken.