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Guidance for better supervision. An evaluation of supervisory guidance within the field of the environment (2014:17)

In order to achieve appropriate supervision, all county administrative boards and 14 central authorities have been tasked with providing supervisory guidance to those authorities with operational supervisory responsibility within the field of the environment, particularly county administrative boards and municipalities. Supervisory guidance refers to support and advice for the operational supervisory authorities, and the coordination, monitoring and evaluation of operational supervision. The Enforcement and Regulations Council (ToFR) has been established within the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency in order to work for consultation and collaboration on environmental supervision issues. There is also voluntary collaboration in connection with supervision within the framework of national and regional collaborative bodies. These include the county administrative boards' collaborative body, Environmental Collaboration Sweden.

Statskontoret (The Swedish Agency for Public Management) has been tasked by the Swedish Government (the Ministry of the Environment) with evaluating supervisory guidance within the field of the environment.

A lack of uniformity and unclear limitations of responsibility

Statskontoret's evaluation shows that the quality of guidance varies between the supervisory guidance authorities and between different supervisory areas within the Swedish Environmental Code. The evaluation also shows dissatisfaction with the work carried out within ToFR, including because the participating authorities are not seen to spend enough time on this work. Statskontoret's findings are in line with the results of previous evaluations.

Statskontoret is of the opinion that one of the biggest problems within supervisory guidance is that there is a lack of guidance expertise within certain areas, which in turn risks resulting in deficiencies in the effectiveness, legal certainty and uniformity of supervision. At the same time, Statskontoret notes that, all in all, there is extensive expertise among the players involved. The supervisory expertise that was previously more concentrated at central level, particularly at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, is now more dispersed and decentralised.

Statskontoret also notes shortcomings in uniformity when it comes to monitoring, evaluating and reporting the results of supervision.

Another problem is that the limitations of responsibility between the supervisory guidance of the county administrative boards and the central authorities are, in certain cases, unclear. Statskontoret is of the opinion that this lack of clarity is largely due to the fact that the county administrative boards' responsibility for guidance is unclearly regulated.

Statskontoret's proposals

A developed Environmental Collaboration Sweden to strengthen collaboration and bring together expertise within supervisory guidance

Statskontoret is of the opinion that collaboration within supervisory guidance needs to be strengthened in order to make better use of the combined expertise within the field of supervision. This is partly a matter of creating a better overview of the supervisory guidance provided by central and regional authorities, and partly a matter of making use of the knowledge that exists within central and regional authorities, municipalities, and national and regional collaborative bodies.

Statskontoret therefore proposes that the voluntary collaboration that currently takes place within Environmental Collaboration Sweden should be developed with the aim of strengthening the collaboration between the authorities responsible for supervision within the field of the environment. Today, Environmental Collaboration Sweden is primarily a joint project between the country administrative boards. Statskontoret proposes that the organisation should be developed and expanded, so that the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, the Swedish Board of Agriculture, the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, the Swedish Chemicals Agency, the Public Health Agency of Sweden, the county administrative boards and the municipalities are also included.

According to Statskontoret's proposal, the main role of the new Environmental Collaboration Sweden should be to improve consensus between the operational and supervisory guidance authorities, so that supervisory issues can be dealt with in a more uniform manner. The collaborative body should act as a hub for the guidance knowledge spread throughout the country. This includes gathering and making materials such as central authorities' guidance, legal cases and brochures available online.

The collaborative body's commission should also include identifying the need for guidance in various areas and, based on this, taking the initiative to draw up instructions and guidelines for supervision, etc. The central authorities should be tasked with quality assuring the instructions, guidelines, etc. drawn up at the initiative of the new Environmental Collaboration Sweden.

One main reason for tasking a developed Environmental Collaboration Sweden with strengthening collaboration is to retain the upward perspective, the commitment and the close connection with operational supervision that characterises the current Environmental Collaboration Sweden.

Environmental Collaboration Sweden should become a specific collaborative body within Västra Götaland County Administrative Board

In order to provide the new Environmental Collaboration Sweden with a stable organisational foundation, Statskontoret proposes that is should be organised as a specific collaborative body within Västra Götaland County Administrative Board. The collaborative body should be regulated in the county administrative boards' joint terms of reference.

Statskontoret is of the opinion that it would be appropriate to position Environmental Collaboration Sweden within a county administrative board both in order to retain the close link with the operational supervision carried out by the county administrative boards and because the county administrative boards have the broadest guidance responsibility of all authorities. This assessment is also made against the background of the fact that Environmental Collaboration Sweden already has its organisational seat within the county administrative boards and has been seen to work well there.

The reason for positioning Environmental Collaboration Sweden within Västra Götaland County Administrative Board is that it already acts as an informal expert authority for supervisory guidance. Västra Götaland County Administrative Board also currently contributes a certain degree of administration to the present Environmental Collaboration Sweden.

In order to provide Environmental Collaboration Sweden with more robust financing, Statskontoret proposes that a specific allowance within the appropriation document for the country administrative boards should grant funding to Västra Götaland County Administrative Board for the collaborative body's operations.

The Enforcement and Regulations Council should be abolished

Statskontoret's proposal involves Environmental Collaboration Sweden taking over some of the current duties of the Enforcement and Regulations Council (ToFR). As a consequence of Environmental Collaboration Sweden's broader assignment, Statskontoret therefore proposes that the Enforcement and Regulations Council should be abolished.

The county administrative boards' responsibility for supervisory guidance should be limited

The county administrative boards currently have very extensive responsibility for supervisory guidance. They should provide guidance within all the Swedish Environmental Code's supervisory areas. Statskontoret is of the opinion that the county administrative boards' guidance role is not realistic. Statskontoret therefore proposes that the role of providing support and advice to the operational supervisory authorities should be limited to those supervisory areas in which the county administrative boards have their own operational supervision. Within other supervisory areas, Statskontoret proposes that the county administrative boards should continue to have a coordinating and monitoring role. This means, for example, that the county administrative boards should help the central authorities with supervisory guidance campaigns within the county, regardless of the field of guidance. However, the precise limitation of the areas within which the county administrative boards should provide support and advice needs to be investigated further.

By limiting the county administrative boards' responsibility for guidance in relation to support and advice to certain defined areas and tasks, Statskontoret is of the opinion that the limitations of responsibility between central authorities and the county administrative boards will be clearer and the authorities' opportunities for fulfilling their tasks will thereby be improved.

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency should have greater responsibility for monitoring and reporting on the results of supervision

Statskontoret notes that there is a lack of coordinated, uniform information about the supervision that is carried out. Such information is of great importance in order to be able to evaluate the results of this supervision.

Statskontoret therefore proposes that the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency should be tasked with compiling such information. Statskontoret is of the opinion that, by giving this responsibility to a single authority, there will be better opportunities for the information that is compiled being comparable, both nationally and over time.

In order for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency to be able to gather information about the operational supervision that is carried out, Statskontoret proposes that the operational supervisory authorities should be given a designated responsibility to submit such details of this supervision to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency as the authority deems necessary.

Statskontoret also proposes that the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency should be entitled to issue further instructions on which information the operational authorities should submit, as well as how and when this information should be submitted.

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency should currently report to the Swedish Government annually on how supervision can be developed. In accordance with recurring tasks in the authorities' appropriation documents, the county councils should also submit a report on this. Statskontoret is of the opinion that it is not appropriate for both the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the county administrative boards to have similar assignments. Statskontoret therefore proposes that the Government should task the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency with producing a joint report on how supervision can be developed. Statskontoret is of the opinion that this would provide better opportunities for presenting an overall picture of national needs in this report.