State job appointments shrouded in secrecy

The government has been accused of a lack of transparency when filling top state jobs. Despite a clear election promise to open up the system only one in three appointments have been advertised since the Alliance parties took office.

The Alliance government was very vocal in its criticism of Göran Persson’s Social Democrat-led government for a lack of transparency when making appointments to top positions within the state apparatus.

According to a survey by Dagens Nyheter the new government has advertised only one in three positions appointed during its tenure so far. A clear breach of an election pledge according to critics.

“It was exactly this type of appointment that the right-wingers criticised the Social Democrats for. Now they are doing the same thing,” said Bo Dockered on learning that he had been replaced as head of state-owned forestry concern Sveaskog by former prime minister, Göran Persson.

No official cross-examinations of potential candidates have been held since the Alliance government came to power. Minister for Local Government and Financial Markets, Mats Odell, questions whether it is desirable for parliament to take part in the appointments process.

“As many of the applicants are already concerned about their names being made public a parliamentary committee cross-examination would be no less a deterrent,” Odell said.

The Alliance government has appointed 29 state company chairpersons and civil service directors since coming to power in 2006. Of these, seven had a right-wing political background and two came from the Social Democrats. The remaining 20 had a business background, Dagens Nyheter’s survey shows.

While not meeting their own goals of transparency the Alliance government has a better record than their predecessors which did not advertise a single post before making an appointment.

Financial markets minister Mats Odell has defended the government’s record.

“We went to the polls with a pledge to change appointments policy. This we have done. We put together needs profiles for all the new civil service directorships that are up for appointment and the advertising of posts has since last autumn become the rule,” Odell told Dagens Nyheter.

The government confirms that there are no fixed criteria for deciding which posts should be advertised and which are reserved for direct appointments.

The appointment of former defence minster Mikael Odenberg as general-director of Svenska Kraftnät is set to highlight the government’s record when the case is considered by the parliamentary constitutional committee next year.