Expanding central government “a waste of money”

The number of civil servants employed at the Government Offices has risen by over 40% in the last eight years. The reason, according to Swedish Radio's Ekot programme, is increased centralisation of state-run organisations.

In 1997 there were 1,700 people employed on the central government staff. That has now risen to 2,400 officials.

But a political scientist who has been researching the central government told Swedish Radio that the massive expenditure associated with the rise is unjustified.

“Part of this increase in the central government staff can be explained by the fact that there are many civil servants sitting there spending time on reports and numbers which aren’t being used effectively,” said Göran Sundström.

“It’s a waste of money,” he added.

Many of those employed at the Government Offices are involved in international work, but Sundström said that the problem lies with those who work on setting targets, which then need to be tracked and reported upon.

Thousands of pieces of detailed information need to be gathered at a cost of millions of kronor every year – and often it is not even used.

“They are running more things and running things more precisely,” said Sundström.

“It’s not especially efficient – it’s hard to formulate targets, it’s hard to measure the result and the information doesn’t form the basis for decisions.”

Sundström laid the blame for the rise at the door of the prime minister, Göran Persson. But Gun Eriksson, a state secretary in the prime minister’s office, refuted the criticism.

“There are certainly failings in our processes but we are developing them the whole time and it’s exactly like all other operations,” said Eriksson to Swedish Radio.

He added that he believed it the extra cost of employing the new civil servants was worth it.

Sources: SR