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Sweden

Improved opportunities for dialogue and transparency in aid management and implementation (SE0011)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Sweden, Second Action Plan, 2014-16

Action Plan Cycle: 2014

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA)

Support Institution(s): Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)

Policy Areas

Aid, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Sweden End-of-Term Report 2014-2016

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation , Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

The commitment on improved opportunities for dialogue and transparency in aid management and implementation aims to increase mutual knowledge and participation. Greater knowledge and involvement of more actors create better possibilities for accountability and promote innovative thinking. Increased transparency also facilitates active involvement and public participation and may limit the scope for corruption and misuse of resources. The commitment will mainly be achieved through strengthening channels for dialogue and feedback on aid management and implementation with different parts of society.
Main activities
- Develop and implement an updated government strategy for aid information and communication activities.
11
- Negotiate and implement a compact between the Government and Swedish civil society organisations that enhances dialogue and outlines these organisations’ role in Swedish aid.
- Support initiatives related to ICT that create opportunities for increased participation from a broader spectrum of the population.
- Further develop procedures for management of reports by the public, organisations
and employees of misuse, suspected corruption and other complaints with an impact on Swedish aid funds.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 4. Improved Opportunities for Dialogue and Transparency in Aid Management and Implementation

Commitment Text:

The commitment on improved opportunities for dialogue and transparency in aid management and implementation aims to increase mutual knowledge and participation. Greater knowledge and involvement of more actors create better possibilities for accountability and promote innovative thinking. Increased transparency also facilitates active involvement and public participation and may limit the scope for corruption and misuse of resources. The commitment will mainly be achieved through strengthening channels for dialogue and feedback on aid management and implementation with different parts of society.

Main activities:

-Develop and implement an updated government strategy for aid information and communication activities.

-Negotiate and implement a compact between the Government and Swedish civil society organisations that enhances dialogue and outlines these organisations’ role in Swedish aid.

-Support initiatives related to ICT that create opportunities for increased participation from a broader spectrum of the population.

-Further develop procedures for management of reports by the public, organisations and employees of misuse, suspected corruption and other complaints with an impact on Swedish aid funds.

Milestones:

4.1. A government-established strategy for aid information and communication activities, including regular follow-up on results.

4.2. A government communication on Swedish Policy for Global Development (PGU), which also highlights potential conflicts of interest within one of the policy’s global challenges.

4.3. A negotiated CSO compact, including regular follow-up on implementation.

4.4. Arrangement of an aid dialogue event.

4.5. Creation of opportunities for increased participation as a result of supported initiatives.

4.6. Established procedures for suspected corruption and complaints handling for Swedish aid-funded activities, including active dialogue with multilateral development organisations

Editorial note: For ease of reading, the author combined milestones 4.3 and 4.4 for analysis (now 4.3 and 4.4 Negotiated CSO compact & aid dialogue).

Responsible institution(s): Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)

Supporting institution(s): Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)

Start date: 2014....................                                                             End date: 2017


Commitment Aim:

The commitment aims to improve opportunities and strengthen channels for dialogue and transparency in aid management. The underlying rationale of the government is that greater knowledge and citizen/stakeholder involvement create better possibilities for accountability and promote innovative thinking. Increased transparency also facilitates public participation and may limit the scope for corruption and misuse of resources. This commitment addresses the lack of involvement of CSOs in the development of aid policy, emphasized by various civil society stakeholders in recent years.[Note 48: UNICEF Sweden, “Lack of dialogue.”  See also, Civil Rights Defenders, “Opinion on the government's foreign aid policy platform,” letter 2013/14, 11 February 2014.]

The commitment set out to achieve the following:

       A strategy for aid information and communication, including regular follow-up on results (milestone 4.1);

       A communication on Swedish Policy for Global Development (PGU) (milestone 4.2);

       A negotiated CSO compact, including the organisation of an aid dialogue event and regular follow-up on implementation (milestones 4.3 and 4.4); and

       Procedures for suspected corruption and complaints handling for Swedish aid-funded activities, including dialogue with multilateral development organisations (milestone 4.6).

Status

Midterm: Limited

Most of the milestones under this commitment had either not started or had a limited completion rate at the time when the IRM midterm report was written. The only milestones that had achieved substantial completion were the ones related to the CSO compact (milestones 4.3 and 4.4).

Both the development of a strategy for aid information and communication (milestone 4.1) and the government communication about the Swedish Policy for Global Development (PGU) (milestone 4.2) had a limited completion rate. The strategy was under development by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) when the IRM report was written,[Note 49: In May 2015, the government assigned the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to develop the basis for a new strategy for information and communication in international development cooperation, hereafter referred to as the “strategy,” by 1 October 2015. The Government Offices, “Assignment to develop a basis for information and communication activities in international development cooperation,” May 2015. (“Uppdrag att ta fram underlag för informations- och kommunikationsverksamheten inom internationellt utvecklingssamarbete”), http://www.regeringen.se/land--och-regionsstrategier/2015/05/uf201532103udustyr. ] and the communication was due in spring 2016.[Note 50: Public oversight over PGU implementation occurs through an official, public communication to Parliament every two years. ]  

The “compact,” renamed “Joint Commitments between Swedish CSOs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” (milestone 4.3) was concluded. The compact aims to enhance dialogue between the government and the CSOs and defines the role of CSOs in Swedish development aid. The government decided to launch the compact to improve relations with CSOs and to emphasise the important role they play in the development field. The related aid dialogue event (milestone 4.4), was scheduled to take place in autumn 2015.

Milestone 4.5, the “creation of opportunities for increased participation as a result of supported initiatives,” and milestone 4.6, “establish procedures for corruption and complaints handling,” were not formulated clearly, and despite attempts to get clarification from government points of contact, the IRM researcher did not manage to clarify what they aimed to achieve or what progress was made. The government self-assessment mentions that it has developed courses on anti-corruption, but it is unclear if these were public or internally focused. For more information, please see the 2013–2014 midterm IRM report.

End of term: Substantial

This commitment now has a substantial completion level with four of six completed milestones. The strategy for aid information and communication (milestone 4.1) was published on 2 June 2016.[Note 51: Government Offices, “Government approves strategies for strengthening civil society and debate on development cooperation,” 2 June 2016. (“Regeringen fattar beslut om strategier för ett stärkt civilsamhälle och debatt om utvecklingssamarbetet”), http://www.regeringen.se/pressmeddelanden/2016/06/regeringen-fattar-beslut-om-strategier-for-ett-starkt-civilsamhalle-och-debatt-om-utvecklingssamarbetet/. ] It covers the period 2016–2022 and has a budget of about SEK 100 million (approximately USD 12 million) per year. [Note 52: Ibid. ] The strategy aims at raising awareness about the importance of aid, strengthening citizen engagement in support of a fair and sustainable global development, and funding an independent assessment of aid.[Note 53: The Government Offices, “Assignment to develop a basis for information.”   ] Through the strategy, Swedish organisations will also receive support targeted at strengthening civil society organisations (CSOs) in partner countries that work on poverty alleviation, democracy, and human rights. A novelty with respect to the previous strategy is lower co-financing requirements from CSOs. According to the minister for international development cooperation, Isabella Lövin, this will allow more organisations, including smaller ones, to participate in the implementation of the strategy.[Note 54: “Now, our aid can be scrutinised better again,” Aftonbladet, 2 June 2016. (“Nu kan vårt bistånd granskas bättre igen”), http://www.aftonbladet.se/debatt/article22926855.ab. ]

The communication by the government to Parliament on the Policy for Global Development (PGU) (milestone 4.2) was released on 31 May 2016.[Note 55: “The Policy for Global Development (PGU) in the implementation of Agenda 2030,” Communication 2015/16: 182. (The Swedish government, submitted on 31 May 2016). (“Politiken för global utveckling i genomförandet av Agenda 2030”. Skrivelse 2015/16:182), https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/skrivelse/politiken-for-global-utveckling-i-genomforandet_h503182/html. ] The PGU stipulates that all government policies should contribute to an equal and sustainable global development.[Note 56: Ministry for Foreign Affairs, “Shared Responsibility: Sweden's Policy for Global Development,” 2002/03:122, http://www.government.se/legal-documents/2003/05/200203122/. ] The communication aims at relaunching the PGU by improving awareness about it among the government offices and its agencies and by raising their ambition to implement it. The government has now set concrete targets and clarified responsibilities for the implementation of the PGU. An interministerial working group with heads of unit from all ministries has been set up. All ministries have for the first time developed internal action plans for the implementation of the PGU. These plans are connected to the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals.[Note 57: “The Policy for Global Development (PGU) in the implementation of Agenda 2030.” Communication 2015/16: 182. (The Swedish government, submitted on 31 May 2016). (“Politiken för global utveckling i genomförandet av Agenda 2030”. Skrivelse 2015/16:182), https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/skrivelse/politiken-for-global-utveckling-i-genomforandet_h503182/html. ] During the elaboration of the ministerial action plans, the civil society network CONCORD Sweden organised informal meetings between civil society and eight government departments.[Note 58: Email from the OGP point of contact at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated 13 October 2016.]

The aid dialogue event (milestone 4.4) took the shape of a Civil Society Week held on 12–16 October 2015 in Stockholm.[Note 59: Link to the programme of the Civil Society Week: http://www.sida.se/contentassets/2fedce9ca687478b871a3f29f4ef63b1/stockholm_civil_society_week_program.pdf. ] The Civil Society Week included open seminars on civic space and civil society support, as well as workshops dedicated to the recently agreed Joint Commitments between Swedish CSOs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (milestone 4.3). The theme was the “shrinking space,” and the participants discussed how to counteract the negative trend of increasingly limited freedom of action for civil society worldwide. The event had around 200 participants, the majority from Sida and from CSOs and a small share from public authorities, academia, and the private sector.[Note 60: “Stockholm Civil Society Week,” Mission Council, 25 October 2015, http://www.missioncouncil.se/2015/10/25/stockholm-civil-society-week/. ] The event also involved high-level representatives, such as Maina Kiai, United Nations’ special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and the Swedish minister for international development cooperation, Isabella Lövin. [Note 61: Ibid. ]

Regarding the two incomplete milestones (4.5 and 4.6), the IRM researcher could not find evidence of any further attempts by the government to make progress.[Note 62: Regarding milestone 4.6, the government’s self-assessment states that “anti-corruption is also an integrated part of the Swedish strategies for multilateral organisations. This includes yearly work plans for delivery and follow-up.” The OGP contact points further clarified this by stating that internal work plans are drawn up in order to implement the strategies for multilateral organisations. Some of these work plans include measures to reduce corruption. The work plans are followed up regularly in consultation with multilateral organisations. If Sweden suspects instances of corruption, these are dealt with in another way than through work plans. (Source: Email from the OGP point of contact at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated 13 October 2016.) According to the IRM researcher, these clarifications of milestone 4.6 do not point to any concrete output or progress on delivering results within commitment 4.]

Did it open government?

Access to information: Marginal

Public accountability: Marginal

The commitment’s overarching goal was to improve opportunities for dialogue and transparency in aid management. This goal was reached. However, considering that most of the outputs (milestones 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3) are relatively recent, it is too early to say whether this had any major effect on government openness in Sweden.

The new strategy for aid information and communication (milestone 4.1) has a substantial yearly budget (USD 12 million) and is expected to enable more Swedish CSOs to participate in the implementation of the strategy, as well as to improve the opportunities of the CSOs in partner countries to inform decisions on Swedish aid.[Note 63: “Now, our aid can be scrutinised better again,” Aftonbladet, 2 June 2016. (“Nu kan vårt bistånd granskas bättre igen”), http://www.aftonbladet.se/debatt/article22926855.ab. ] The strategy will also fund independent evaluations, which should improve access to information about aid.

The released communication (milestone 4.2) has raised the priority of the Policy for Global Development (PGU). It includes concrete targets and assigns the responsibility for the implementation of the PGU to senior officials in each ministry. This has received praise from civil society[Note 64: “Sharp criticism of the government's policy for global development,” DN, 2 May 2016. (“Skarp kritik mot regeringens politik för global utveckling”), http://www.dn.se/ekonomi/global-utveckling/skarp-kritik-mot-regeringens-politik-for-global-utveckling/.%5D and is in line with the recommendations of the midterm IRM report. The communication is expected to create opportunities to hold officials answerable for their actions.

The Joint Commitments between Swedish CSOs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (milestone 4.3) was an important step forward in terms of opening up government practice and is expected to have a positive impact on the cooperation between government and civil society. The importance of the commitments lies in the process through which CSOs and government regained mutual trust and managed to produce an output satisfactory to both parties. The dialogue process was open and interactive, and the MFA showed serious commitment through the presence of high-level officials in some of the meetings. Receiving positive feedback from civil society,[Note 65: “Stockholm Civil Society Week,” Mission Council, 25 October 2015, http://www.missioncouncil.se/2015/10/25/stockholm-civil-society-week/. ] the Civil Society Week (milestone 4.4) was probably the largest event of this kind and was organised by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).[Note 66: “The civil society operates under increasing threat,” Omvarlden, 16 October 2015, (“Civilsamhället arbetar under ökat hot”), http://www.omvarlden.se/Branschnytt/2015/civilsamhallet-arbetar-under-okat-hot/. ] It remains to be seen whether there will be continued dialogue on the management of development aid, but the development of the Joint Commitments and the success of the Civil Society Week demonstrate a positive, but incremental, step forward in terms of opening government practice to more civic participation.

Carried forward?

In line with the recommendations put forward by the consulted CSOs,[Note 67: See the 2014–2015 midterm IRM report for more information.] the IRM researcher recommends that the MFA makes the process for monitoring PGU implementation[Note 68: According to an email from the OGP contact point at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated 13 October 2016, the follow-up of action plans is the responsibility of each department. The MFA coordinates the work and serves as support in the process.] more transparent and participatory, more specifically that the MFA:

       Provides access to the departmental action plans so civil society can consult, monitor, and influence their implementation;[Note 69: According to an email from the OGP contact point at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated 13 October 2016, the action plans are internal working documents. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be publishing a summary document of the action plans on regeringen.se.]

       Includes civil society representatives in the monitoring of the action plans; and

       Clarifies if the MFA will have the mandate to follow up on these plans.[Note 70: These views were expressed during the consultation with civil society members held by the IRM researcher in Stockholm in August 2015. See Section VIII: Methodology and Sources for more details. ]  

Moreover, based on a report by the Swedish Agency for Public Management,[Note 71: The Swedish Agency for Public Management’s summary of the publication “Sweden’s Policy for Global Development: the Government's joint responsibility?” (2014:1), http://www.statskontoret.se/In-English/publications/2014---summaries-of-publications/swedens-policy-for-global-development.-the-governments-joint-responsibility-20141/. ] the IRM researcher recommends the government:

       Mandates a specific entity with the responsibility for managing and monitoring the overall application of the PGU; and

       Allocates adequate funds and human resources for the implementation of the PGU.[Note 72: According to an email from the OGP contact point at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated 13 October 2016, a specific job position was funded at the relaunch of the PGU (duration: May 2015 to June 2016). The person on this position has contributed to the development of PGU communication (presented in May 2016) and to the development of PGU action plans. However, the IRM researcher notes that this does not represent sufficient funding and personnel to implement PGU across all government departments. ]

The consulted CSOs[Note 73: See the 2014–2015 midterm IRM report for more information.] recommend that the government assigns a clear status to the Joint Commitments between Swedish CSOs and the MFA (milestone 4.3), allocate appropriate resources for its implementation, and integrate it into its working procedures and processes. It is also very important that adequate resources are provided for an evaluation on the progress of the Joint Commitments.

Finally, the government should clarify milestone 4.5, the “creation of opportunities for increased participation as a result of supported initiatives,” and milestone 4.6, “establish procedures for corruption and complaints handling,” or drop them from future commitments. For more information, please see the 2013–2014 midterm IRM report.


Sweden's Commitments

  1. Starred commitment citizen-centered e-government

    SE0013, 2016, Environment and Climate

  2. Re-use of public administration documents and open data

    SE0014, 2016, Land & Spatial Planning

  3. transparency in aid management

    SE0015, 2016, Aid

  4. Developing a new format for dialogue with CSOs

    SE0016, 2016, Public Participation

  5. Putting citizens at the centre (eGovernment) of government administration reforms

    SE0008, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  6. A step further on the re-use of public administration documents

    SE0009, 2014, Capacity Building

  7. Increased access to Swedish aid information

    SE0010, 2014, Aid

  8. Improved opportunities for dialogue and transparency in aid management and implementation

    SE0011, 2014, Aid

  9. Increased aid transparency at global level

    SE0012, 2014, Aid

  10. Continuing the development of the Openaid.se platform

    SE0001, 2012, Aid

  11. Ensuring full implementation of the IATI standard by 2015

    SE0002, 2012, Aid

  12. Implementing the commitments in the Busan Partnership document

    SE0003, 2012, Aid

  13. Playing a leading role in the Building Block on Transparency

    SE0004, 2012, Capacity Building

  14. Contributing to further define the work towards an EU Transparency Guarantee

    SE0005, 2012, Capacity Building

  15. Engaging in the Open Aid Partnership and promoting ICT4D

    SE0006, 2012, Aid

  16. Broadening open government commitments

    SE0007, 2012, OGP