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The Swedish Transport Administration's four-monthly reports. Financial reporting and internal efforts to improve efficiency (2013:5)

The Swedish Transport Administration was formed on 1 April 2010 through the merger of agencies such as the Swedish Rail Administration and the Swedish Road Administration. The agency conducts extensive work, with 6,500 employees and a volume of business of approximately SEK 51 billion. One important purpose in establishing the agency was to create a more efficient administration and organisation.

In December 2010, the Swedish Transport Administration submitted a plan of action to the government detailing its efforts to increase efficiency. In this plan, the Transport Administration identified a potential annual gross saving of SEK 2-3 billion from 2014 as the target for its efforts to improve its internal efficiency. The agency's efforts to improve internal efficiency have been carried out based on a broad approach comprising, in principle, all parts of the agency.

Statskontoret (The Swedish Agency for Public Management) has been commissioned by the government to support the government in tracking the Swedish Transport Administration's financial results and internal efficiency. This assignment has focused on the Swedish Transport Administration's four-monthly reports to the government. The role of Statskontoret in this assignment has been to critically examine the reporting and to support the Swedish Transport Administration in developing the reports.

An important conclusion is that the government's management of the Swedish Transport Administration's four-monthly reports and internal efforts to improve efficiency have been insufficient. The task of assessing the scope of the potential efficiency savings and the task of deciding how these should be followed-up and reported back to the government have largely been left to the agency by the government. Another important conclusion is that the Swedish Transport Administration should produce more detailed financial reports covering its activities, as well as to conduct more in-depth dialogue with the Government Offices regarding the purpose of the reports.

Statskontoret's assessment of the Swedish Transport Administration's financial reporting

According to Statskontoret's assessment the financial reporting from the Swedish Transport Administration to the government has been insufficient. There is a risk that forecasting errors will be repeated if the Swedish Transport Administration does not integrate the discrepancy analyses into its activities or if the lessons learned are not utilised within the agency. Furthermore, all the areas of activity within the Swedish Transport Administration are not on the same level with regard to the internal financial reporting. For example, certain areas of activity require more support than others in the development of their forecasting activities. The Swedish Transport Administration should develop a more detailed knowledge transfer system regarding external causes of large discrepancies between forecasts and outcomes, and also further develop the ways in which these discrepancies are to be dealt with and reported.

Statskontoret's assessment of the Swedish Transport Administration's internal efforts to improve efficiency

Statskontoret finds that the Swedish Transport Administration should provide more details on its internal efforts to improve efficiency in the four-monthly reports. The current reporting is presented on a relatively general level. To provide a more balanced picture of its efforts to improve internal efficiency there is a need for a greater openness from the Swedish Transport Administration with regard to external information on these efforts in the four-monthly reports. In the latest four-monthly reports, the Swedish Transport Administration has begun a more transparent reporting of these efforts. Statskontoret finds that the financial flow and the risks involved in the efforts to improve internal efficiency should be more clearly highlighted. The Swedish Transport Administration should also indicate how these risks can be handled.

Statskontoret's recommendations

The government should quantify efficiency demands they place on agencies, and also clarify how efforts to improve efficiency are to be continuously monitored. The government should also clarify the aim of four-monthly reports, as well as more actively manage the written reports and the accompanying dialogue.

The Swedish Transport Administration should further develop and deepen the extent of their work with forecasts, financial outcomes and discrepancy analyses in order to e.g. increase accuracy when forecasting its expenses. The agency should therefore develop more structured and systematic processes for transferring lessons learned and knowledge building. It should also develop the reporting of discrepancies between forecasts and outcomes in the four-monthly reports. In addition, the Swedish Transport Administration should also develop and deepen its reporting of efforts to improve internal efficiency in the four-monthly reports and increase the transparency with the aim of increasing the understanding of and insight into its activities.