Role of centres of government in planning for the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic

Centres of government (CoGs) have an important role in managing the COVID-19 crisis, and they will continue to be crucial through the recovery period. Among OECD countries with data available, the prime minister’s or president’s office has been responsible for primary co-ordination of the strategic planning for COVID-19 recovery efforts in 15 of 26 (58%) countries. The ministry of finance has this responsibility in 3 of the 26 (12%), while another agency is responsible in 8 out of 26 countries (30%). These include the State Secretary for Economic Recovery and Strategic Investments in Belgium, the Ministry of Industry and Trade in the Czech Republic, the cabinet committee for sustainable recovery and growth in Finland, multiple bodies in Latvia, the council of ministers in Luxembourg, and the government offices in Sweden (Figure 4.3).

CoGs are responsible for some aspects of cross-government strategic planning to support recovery efforts in 19 out of 26 responding OECD countries (73%). In general, their responsibilities tend to be in strategic planning and oversight of implementation. CoGs are most frequently responsible for identifying priority areas for the recovery efforts, and selecting / shortlisting the priority policies / programmes to be implemented (16 out of 26, or 62%, in each case) and for co-ordinating the implementation of the recovery plans (14 of 26, 54%). It is less common for them to have a role in the more detailed aspects of implementing COVID-19 recovery plans: they are responsible for communicating the implementation of the recovery plans in only 13 out of the 26 responding countries (50%), establishing the main directives/guidelines for the design of the plans in 12 out of 26 (46%), evaluating the plans in 7 (27%), and providing ex ante reviews of the overall recovery plan in just 6 (23%) (Table 4.4).

Centres of government will require a wide range of evidence to help inform the design and delivery of their recovery policy priorities during 2021. While the specific types required vary substantially across countries, there is a strong demand for evidence, with all responding countries noting at least two different sources of evidence they will need to inform their priorities. Three evidence products are key. First, and most important, there is a clear desire to learn from the experience of peers during the recovery. Multi-country compendiums of best practices are the source of evidence in greatest demand, noted as a requirement by 20 out of 26 responding countries (77%). Analysis of the trade-offs between policy priorities, and global projections or forecasts are joint second (17 out of 26 in each case, 65%). Beyond these three core products, some CoGs will also seek to use in-depth country assessments and sets of recommendations (12 out of 26, 46%), checklists to support decision-making processes in the priority areas (11 of 26, 42%), analyses of policy coherence in support of sustainable development practices (9 of 26, 35%), and analyses of externalities (8 of 26, 31%) (Online Figure G.27).

Further reading

OECD (2018), Centre Stage 2: The Organisation and Functions of the Centre of Government in OECD Countries, OECD, www.oecd.org/gov/centre-stage-2.pdf.

OECD (2014), Centre Stage: Driving Better Policies from the Centre of Government, OECD, www.oecd.org/gov/Centre-Stage-Report.pdf.

Figure notes

Data for Australia, Greece, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States are not available.

Figure G.27. (Types of evidence or analyses needed to inform policy priorities, 2021) is available online in Annex G.

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