How the Government and Government Offices function
The duty of the Government Offices is to assist the Government in its task of governing the realm and achieving its policy objectives.
The Government Offices are led by the Government and thus form a politically controlled body where the Government directs the work and sets priorities. Public officials in the Government Offices assist the Government by supplying background material and proposals for use as a basis for decisions and conducting inquiries into matters of both a national and international nature. Of the approximately 4 700 members of staff employed at the Government Offices, around 200 are political appointees. All the other members of staff retain their posts regardless of the political orientation of the government that is in power.
The duties of the officials may be divided into seven main categories applying to all the ministries alike:
- The budget process and the administration of government agencies
- Administrative business
- International cooperation
- External communication
- Special projects and programmes
- The ministry's internal support and development work.
One of the officials' tasks is to administer the government agencies that answer to the respective ministry by supplying background material for the annual appropriation directives and monitoring the agencies' operations. Their work may also include international negotiations, for example in the EU. By international comparison, Sweden has small ministries and large government agencies.
At their weekly cabinet meetings the members of the Cabinet take joint and collective decisions on all government business. Consequently, all the ministers have a say in government decisions and the Cabinet as a whole is collectively responsible for them.
When the Government takes a decision on an item of government business, it is the final stage in a long and careful preparation process in the Government Offices.
- An item of business is initiated A document arrives at the Government Offices by post, email or is submitted orally.
- Registration All matters are registered by the receiving ministry's senior registry clerk
- Processing an item of business The official dealing with the matter collects the additional data needed, agencies and organisations affected by the matter submit their views, the person or organisation that initiated the matter may submit a statement, the official responsible draws up a proposal for a decision, the proposal is discussed jointly with other ministers affected and their ministries and the proposal is finally reviewed by the relevant ministry's Director-General for Administrative Affairs.
- Decision The matter is reported to the minister responsible, the Government takes a joint decision and the person or organisation that initiated the matter and others affected by it are notified of the decision before it is filed in the ministry archives.