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Working party proposes a new approach to Government policy:
A strategic Government programme supplemented by a more detailed action plan

Government Communications Department
Publication date 9.1.2015 10.30
Press release 8/2015

When the Government’s key objectives are clearly defined and the processes redirected to contribute to the attainment of these objectives, it is possible to secure resources and momentum for achieving real change. To succeed in this, the Government needs a strategic process that consistently draws upon facts and figures for support. This is the proposal put forward by the joint project (‘OHRA’) launched by the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister’s Office to look into the potential for developing the state governance framework. Accordingly, the Government’s agenda would only list three to five major issues that political efforts and resources would focus on.

The proposals presented in the report are intended for the following Government term. A key proposal developed in the course of the project is a new type of strategic coherence to be pursued by the Government. As a result, the Government’s strategy would be formulated in two stages: when the Government programme is prepared and immediately after when the Government’s action plan is drafted.

The final report of the OHRA Project was released today Friday 9 January. The report was handed over to Prime Minister Alexander Stubb by State Secretary Olli-Pekka Heinonen of the Prime Minister’s Office and State Secretary Martti Hetemäki of the Ministry of Finance.

Broad-based policies to be outlined in the Government programme and the measures to be taken detailed in an action plan

The OHRA Project proposes that Government programmes should be formulated in more general terms instead of defining detailed measures that will tie the hands of the Government for its entire term. The programme would clearly identify the Government’s key policy objectives, of which there would be three to five in number. When the time comes to prepare the action plan, the parties involved would agree on concrete measures – ‘policy packages’ – that the Government as whole would then pursue. At the same time, the Government action plan and the General Government Fiscal Plan would be harmonised and coordinated.

Additionally, the number of various ‘strategic’ guidance documents separate from the Government’s action plan would be drastically reduced during the next Government term.

An action plan to be presented to Parliament in the form of a report subject to annual review

The Government’s action plan would be completed in August 2015 – at the same time as the 2016 draft budget – and presented to Parliament as a report. The Government would review both the action plan and the General Government Fiscal Plan annually in the spring.

Essentially, the reform aims at a better coordination of policies and resources. This calls for close cooperation between the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Finance as well as between other ministries. A ministerial group would be appointed for each policy package, in addition to which there would be no other fora for preparation at the ministerial level barring exceptional circumstances. At the public servant level, the action plan process would be owned by a general secretariat in charge of coordinating the preparations led by the State Secretary to the Prime Minister in collaboration with the State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance. As a result, the role of the meeting of Permanent Secretaries as a coordinator of inter-ministerial issues would be reinforced. In the future, the meetings would be co-chaired by the State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance serving a the Deputy Chair along with the Chair, the State Secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Other proposals

The provision of structured and systematic data to serve as basis for decision making is one of cornerstones of the strategic model outlined in the OHRA Project. To this end, it is proposed that an expert unit be set up in the Government to assess the impact of regulations and other policy measures. To be initially established for a fixed-term, the unit would assist the ministries and the Government in providing competent impact assessments in support of decision making.

Background of the project and further action

The OHRA Project was launched by Henna Virkkunen, Minister of Public Administration and Local Government, in November 2013 as part of the central government reform project. The project aimed at reinforcing strategic guidance by the Government; coordinating the direction of policies, the legislative process and allocation of resources; and consolidating the factual basis for support and capacity for action by these functions.

The proposals for action were prepared by a working group composed of the officials involved in the project. The group was chaired by Head of Unit Sirpa Kekkonen from the Prime Minister’s Office. The project was assisted by a monitoring and support group chaired by State Secretary Olli-Pekka Heinonen from the Prime Minister’s Office and co-chaired by State Secretary Martti Hetemäki from the Ministry of Finance.

To translate the proposals put forward by the OHRA Project into concrete actions, Paula Risikko, the Minister of Transport and Communications and Local Government, has established an implementation committee whose mandate extends beyond the change of Government up until the end of June 2015.

Inquiries: State Secretary Olli-Pekka Heinonen, Prime Minister’s Office, tel. +358 295 160 280; and State Secretary Martti Hetemäki, Ministry of Finance, tel. +358 295 530 292

Alexander Stubb Paula Risikko government
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