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OECD: Collective commitment, strategic insight and resource flexibility needed in Finnish public governance

31.05.2010  |  Press release 67/2010

Finland has a strong track record in responding to difficult economic situations. Finland´s recovery from the 1990s recession demonstrates the ability of public governance to be a key player in promoting economic development and service provision. Finland may now be facing its biggest challenge, however. This means strategic agility in public administration must be further improved, and calls for far clearer collective commitment in the whole of government.

These are the observations made by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) in its peer review, which examines Finland´s public governance and its ability to deliver government objectives and its capacity to respond to existing and future challenges. The report covers the whole of Finnish public administration and its operational plans. 

The review shows that current public administration reforms are comprehensive and ambitious. By international standards, the level of Finland´s public administration is high. The current reforms mainly seek to strengthen and enhance the existing system rather than fundamentally change it. The OECD observes that to sustain the current structure for public services, Finland will need to take bolder steps to respond to the service needs of the people.

In the OECD´s view, to strengthen its strategic insight, Finland needs stronger horizontal linkages across central government and improved planning and foresight capacity from a whole-of-government perspective. Reinforced leadership at all levels of government is required in order to be able to communicate and implement a common vision and collective commitment. Coordination and steering of overall government objectives and solutions need to be fostered. In addition, Finland´s budget system should be revised to allow resources to be allocated more flexibly according to changing demands and priorities.    

Mari Kiviniemi, Minister of Public Administration and Local Government, on receiving the review, thanked the OECD for an expert evaluation, observing that it offers a comprehensive overview of Finland´s present public administration and provides initiatives for future planning. The Minister pointed out that new measures are necessary in order to respond to the challenges of the information society and to better meet the public service expectations of the citizens.

The Minister stressed the importance of a comprehensive perspective in public governance developments. It is the only way to ensure that government objectives can be translated into goals and action to achieve the desired social impact. It is necessary to let go of thinking in terms of administrative sectors and levels. The Minister also referred to the government strategy document drawn up in connection with the implementation of the Government Programme, and the need for greater consolidation of budgeting and performance steering processes.

In terms of the whole-of-government administration, as well as leadership and government steering, the Minister shed light on the development measures in progress related to the consolidation of public governance, especially in terms of information management. The eServices and democracy project (SADe) launched by the Minister a year ago aims to address many of the issues mentioned in the OECD review. Likewise, one of the goals in the reform project for regional state administration (ALKU) completed at the end of last year was to improve inter-administrative cooperation across regional levels, and similar obstacles must be challenged at other levels of public administration.

The Ministry of Finance commissioned a country review on Finland´s public governance from the OECD in 2009. This review and recommendations were published in Helsinki on 31 May 2010.

Inquiries: Mr Juhani Turunen, Under-Secretary of State, tel. 358 9 160 33007, Ms Silja Hiironniemi, Director General, tel. 358 9 160 33250 and Ms Katju Holkeri, Financial Counsellor, tel. 358 40 764 9880.

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