OHRA Project: New strategic decision-making model proposed to the Government
In January 2015, OHRA – the project to reform the Government’s steering framework – put forward a number of proposals for the following parliamentary term aimed at improving the impact and effectiveness of Government actions. The new approach is designed to ensure that core policies pursued by the Government can be effectively implemented. It will be up to the next Government, to be formed after the spring 2015 parliamentary elections, to determine whether these recommendations will be adopted.
The OHRA Project comprehensively reviewed the Government’s steering framework and developed a model that coordinates content and resource management more effectively and promotes closer interaction between political leaders and senior civil servants. The four largest parties were involved in the preparations, and the proposal has been reviewed in consultation with all the parties represented in Parliament. State Secretary Olli-Pekka Heinonen of the Prime Minister’s Office, who is in charge of the reform, has noted that a broad consensus exists in terms of the objectives to be achieved.
One of the key issues addressed is the proposal to prepare the Government Programme following the 2015 spring elections on a completely new basis. Accordingly, Government strategy would in the future consist of the Government Programme, outlining broad policy objectives, and a Government Action Plan, providing a more detailed description of the means and tools to be employed to this end.
To translate the OHRA Project recommendations into concrete actions, Paula Risikko, the Minister of Transport and Local Government, has established an implementation committee whose mandate extends beyond the change of Government, until the end of 2015.
Recommendations of the OHRA Project
The final report of the OHRA Project, tasked to reform the Government’s steering framework, was presented to Prime Minister Alexander Stubb on 9 January 2015 by State Secretary Olli-Pekka Heinonen, Chair of the project steering group, and State Secretary Martti Hetemäki of the Ministry of Finance, who served as Deputy Chair of the project.
The 17 proposals presented in the report are intended for the next parliamentary term.
The Government Programme following the 2015 spring elections will be prepared on a completely new basis.
- The Government Programme will outline the key objectives without specifying in great detail the actions to be taken.
- The Government Programme will be strategic in nature, setting out three to five key policy objectives.
- Once the Government is formed, prompt steps will be taken to launch the preparation of a Government Action Plan under political control, to be completed within three months. The efforts will be coordinated with the preparation of the General Government Fiscal Plan.
For each of the three to five key policy objectives or ‘policy packages’ selected by the Government, the current situation, allocation of resources, measures to be taken, timeframes and responsibilities as well as related indicators and information needs will be defined.
For each policy package, a ministerial working group will be appointed to oversee implementation. Other ministerial working groups would subsequently be established only in exceptional cases.
The Government Action Plan will be finalised in the budget session held in the early autumn along with the General Government Fiscal Plan and the Government’s Draft Budget.
The Government Action Plan will be presented to Parliament as a report in autumn 2016 at the same time as the 2016 Draft Budget.
The Government will review both the Government Action Plan and the General Government Fiscal Plan annually in the spring. The review will be presented to Parliament in the form of a report.
It is proposed that an expert unit be set up in the Government to assess the impact of statutes and other policy measures. The unit’s main mission will be to ensure that sound and adequate information is available to the Government and Parliament when decisions on key structural and other changes are made.
Additionally, the number of strategic guidance documents separate from the Government Action Plan will be drastically reduced during the next parliamentary term. With the change of Government in 2015, existing strategic guidance documents will cease to apply, unless otherwise decided.
Publication of the OHRA Project report and recommendations on 9 January 2015
Implementation of the OHRA Project proposals
The Ministry of Finance has established a project to prepare the implementation of the proposals made by the OHRA Project, with a mandate up to the end of June 2015.
The project’s mission is to translate the OHRA Project recommendations into concrete actions so that they can be adopted when the next Government takes office. The pacing of the Government’s new action plan process, the necessary documents, and coordination with the general government fiscal planning process particularly call for the specification of details and the preparation of any regulatory amendments.
The task of the implementation project is:
- to determine the exact phases, timetables and document templates required for the practical preparation and annual update of the Government Action Plan and to prepare the necessary regulatory amendments;
- to draw up a research and evaluation plan for the Government with due regard to the electoral cycle; and
- to prepare a plan for organising the provision of expert support for impact assessment.
The project is led by State Secretary Olli-Pekka Heinonen of the Prime Minister’s Office (Chair) and State Secretary Martti Hetemäki of the Ministry of Finance. Preparation and coordination is carried out by a working group, which also serves as the steering group’s secretariat. The members of the working group are:
Sirpa Kekkonen, Head of Unit, Prime Minister’s Office, Chair
Katju Holkeri, Senior Adviser for Finance, Ministry of Finance
Johanna Nurmi, Ministerial Adviser, Minister of Finance
Jouni Varanka, Senior Specialist, Prime Minister’s Office
Tanja Rantanen, Senior Adviser for Finance, Ministry of Finance
Päivi Paasikoski, Head of Communications, Prime Minister’s Office
Other working groups appointed for preparation
A working group to coordinate preparation of the Government Action Plan and the General Government Fiscal Plan. Chaired by Undersecretary of State Timo Viherkenttä, Ministry of Finance. Appointed on 4 February 2015; deadline: a proposal for the procedures to be followed in coordinating the preparation of the Government Action Plan and the General Government Fiscal Plan, by 31 March 2015. The working group will continue its coordination work until the completion of the Government Action Plan and the General Government Fiscal Plan for 2016–2019.
A working group to prepare the establishment of the impact assessment expert unit. Chaired by Permanent Secretary Tiina Astola, Ministry of Justice. Appointed 2 February 2015, deadline 17 April 2015.