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Foreign ministry suffers from 'culture of silence'

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09:38 CEST+02:00
Undeservedly high pay packages, conflicts of interest, and a demoralized workforce are just a few of the problems found at Sweden's Ministry of Foreign Affairs by a consultancy hired to review the agency's operations.

The ministry had asked Capgemini to examine five areas related to foreign affairs administration.

The consultants found that “the operation has large inadequacies in its ability to administer and secure the observance of existing rules”.

Of particular note is the fact that foreign placed personnel receive, whether consciously or unconsciously, perks to which they are not entitled.

And when high compensation packages are handed out for the wrong reasons, other staff members become demoralized, according to the study, parts of which were reviewed by the TT news agency.

There is also a palpable unwillingness to send reports about problems upward within the organization, and the corresponding culture of silence appears to be growing.

In many smaller foreign missions there is a prevailing culture of dependency amongst personnel.

“In order to function at all on a day-to-day basis, there is a need for people to stick together and help one another, both professionally and privately,” said Capgemini after having interviewed employees at the ministry.

For example, staff members are dependent on positive recommendations from their supervisors in order get promoted, which leads to an obvious risk for conflicts of interest.

In addition, incidents are often reported verbally, rather than written down, which can lead to the spreading of rumours and “little opportunity to react appropriately at the local or central level”.

Capgemini also reports that the foreign ministry has plenty of governing documents but that they are not coordinated. While information is disseminated widely, it remains hard to come by.

Internal controls function reasonably well, but the handling of problems is unsatisfactory and the documentation of incidents is “extremely inadequate”.

Because Capgemini has only examined five areas, the company believes that there are several more unreported issues and that “a sizeable sum” could be saved by simply following existing rules, writes the Riksdag & Departement newspaper.

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