Chapter 2. Enhancing the strategic role of the Centre of Government of Paraguay

This chapter assesses the capacity of Paraguay’s Centre of Government to sustain whole-of-government co-ordination across administrative silos, notably for multi-dimensional policy-setting and implementation; strategic planning; decision-making; and monitoring and evaluation. It notes that Paraguay has made substantial progress in recent years in developing strategic planning as an instrument for systematic whole-of-government co-ordination. Despite this progress, the chapter flags institutional challenges that affect Paraguay’s Centre of Government institutional leadership and co-ordination capacities: the fragmentation of the Executive branch, the numerous institutions at the Presidency and the existence of limited or non-functional co-ordination instruments for high-level policy discussion and decision-making.

    

Introduction

This chapter assesses the capacity of Paraguay’s Centre of Government (CoG) to manage the design and implementation of integrated strategic plans as well as its capacity to lead whole-of-government co-ordination efforts across administrative silos to promote multi-dimensional policy coherence. For that purpose, it analyses how the Centre of Government performs in the following areas:

  • Policy co-ordination across government;

  • Supporting decision-making by the Head of Government;

  • Strategic planning for the government as a whole; and

  • Monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of government policy.

The Centre of Government in OECD countries: from administrative support to whole-of-government co-ordination

Policy co-ordination is critical to addressing complex policy challenges successfully. Though it was always a preoccupation in the field of public administration, it has become particularly relevant in many OECD and non-OECD countries in recent decades. This change of prioritisation originates mainly in the increasing atomisation of administrative structures illustrated by the exponential growth of agencies and other autonomous bodies resulting from the processes of specialisation that took place at end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s under the paradigm of New Public Management (Beuselinck, 2008) and the emergence of increasingly cross-cutting policy challenges (Alessandro et al., 2013).

Traditionally, the mechanism for public-sector co-ordination was the national budget: ministries of finance or the treasury usually played a co-ordination role across the government to sustain a fiscal balance (Alessandro et al., 2013). However, given the increasing complexity of policy-making and the emergence of new multi-facetted policy challenges facing society, governments are increasingly taking whole-of-government approaches through improved co-ordination across administrative silos to design and implement multi-dimensional policy responses to these challenges (Box 2.1).

In order to design effective whole-of-government approaches, OECD countries are progressively strengthening the institutional and financial capacities of their Centres of Government (Figure 2.1). The Centre of Government (CoG) is the body or group bodies that provide direct support and advice to the Head of Government and the Council of Ministries. Usually named as the Chancellery, Cabinet Office, Office of the President, General Secretariat of the Presidency, in OECD countries the CoG has progressively moved from providing administrative support to the President or Prime Minister to becoming a key player in policy development with a mandate to ensure coherence in government decision-making and in policy design and implementation, and to provide evidence-based, strategic and timely advice to ensure that decisions – made by politicians, often non-specialists, often working under extreme pressure – are not ad hoc, imprudent or incoherent (OECD, 2014).

Box 2.1. What is “whole-of-government”?

The OECD associates the notion of whole-of-government with the aim to ensure horizontal and vertical co-ordination of government activity in order to improve policy coherence, better use of resources, promote and capitalise on synergies and innovation that arise from a multi-stakeholder perspective, and provide seamless service delivery to citizens and businesses. It requires government bodies, regardless of type or level, to work across portfolio boundaries to achieve shared goals and to provide integrated government responses to policy issues. Whole-of-Government co-ordination is thus not a narrow concept; it applies both to formal and informal practices and mechanisms, which can be clustered as follows:

  • Hierarchical, driven from the top to the bottom and based on the traditional conception of Weberian bureaucracy;

  • Market-based, characterised by a decentralised decision-making process and based on the idea of exchange and competition; or

  • Networked, which is characterised as a “multi-actor setting with relatively autonomous actors that face a situation of resource dependency and have relatively stable and structure horizontal relations in order to achieve public purposes”, based on the idea of co-operation and solidarity (Beuselinck 2008; OECD 2011).

Most public administrations have adopted hybrid co-ordination mechanisms which combine the three aforementioned models (OECD, 2011). The configuration and the shape that co-ordination mechanisms take depend on the nature and scope of the issue at hand, the country’s political system itself, the level of institutional decentralisation in the country and the existence of specific contextual and informal factors related to culture, history and political leadership.

Embedding a whole-of-government working culture is a long-term endeavour. It requires time to develop, implement and take root, and thus it must be “owned” by the full government and public administration rather than be seen as the initiative of any single political party (OECD, 2016).

Source: OECD (2016), Northern Ireland (United Kingdom): Implementing Joined-up Governance for a Common Purpose; OECD (2011) Estonia: Towards a Single Government Approach; Beuselinck E. (2008) Shifting public sector co-ordination and the underlying drivers of change: a neo-institutional perspective.

The CoG plays this role in different formal and informal ways, ranging from structuring and informing the process by which the Head of Government and the Council of Ministers take decisions and issues instructions, to maximising the effectiveness of line ministries’ machinery in implementing decisions.

Figure 2.1. Centre of Government – Change in terms of size (staff numbers) between 2012-2016
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Source: OECD (forthcoming) 2017 Survey on the Organisation and Functions of the Centre of Government, OECD, Paris.

The CoG concept does not make explicit reference to any particular organisational structure: the institutions that provide direct support and advice to the Head of Government/State vary from one country to another, depending on the constitutional order, the political system, the administrative structure of the country, as well as contextual and historical factors. Therefore, broad definitions of the CoG can include institutions which perform core cross-cutting governance functions, such as finance or planning ministries, even if they are not reporting directly to the Head of Government/Head of State and Council of Ministers (Alessandro et al, 2013).

Despite the heterogeneous range of institutional structures across OECD countries, the 2014 and 2017 OECD surveys on Centre of Government (OECD, 2014, forthcoming) show several commonalities (Figure 2.2). These can be clustered in four main areas:

  1. Policy co-ordination across government, which increasingly includes leading cross-departmental priority strategies;

  2. Supporting decision-making by the Head of Government;

  3. Strategic planning for the whole-of-government;

  4. Monitoring the implementation of government policy, which means developing new mechanisms that emphasises outcomes rather than just tracking expenditures.

Figure 2.2. Top responsibilities delegated to the centre of government across OECD countries
picture

Source: OECD (forthcoming) 2017 Survey on the Organisation and Functions of the Centre of Government, OECD, Paris.

The Centre of Government in Paraguay: institutional set-up

In Paraguay, the definition of the CoG not only refers to the Presidency; it also includes such key strategic partner-institutions as the Ministry of Finance, where policies are matched with resources, and the Technical Secretariat for Economic and Social Development Planning (STP), which plays a key role in developing and co-ordinating strategic planning. Additional ministries and secretariats play an important role in supporting cross-government policy co-ordination, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Secretariat of the Public Service (Secretaría de la Función Pública - SFP).

In Paraguay, the Centre of Government supports the President of the Republic and the Council of Ministers. The President of the Republic, as Head of State and Head of Government is responsible for the general direction of the administration of the country (Article 238 of the Constitution). The President has the authority to appoint and remove the ministers of the Executive Power, the Solicitor General and those civils servants whose designation and permanence in their positions are not ruled by Constitution or by law.

The Council of Ministers1 also has constitutional status (Article 243). Convened by the President of the Republic, the ministers must meet in Council in order to coordinate executive tasks, promote government policy and adopt collective decisions. The Council is responsible to deliberate on all matters of public interest that the President of the Republic submits for its consideration, acting as a consultative body. It also considers legislative initiatives.

To support the President and the Council of Ministers, the Paraguayan CoG units below exercises the following functions:

  • General Secretariat of the Presidency and Civil Cabinet. The technical-political advisory unit for the President of the Republic, it is in charge of co-ordinating the definition, official publication, communication and follow-up of Government and State policies. This houses:

    • The “Centro de Gobierno” unit, created by decree 1294/2014 and inspired by UK and Chile’s experiences, it is Paraguay's “delivery unit” (Box 2.2). It is headed by the General Secretary of the Presidency (who is also head of the Civil Cabinet) and its mission is to advise the president, ministers and secretaries concerning the government's agenda and to achieve an effective programmatic co-ordination of government actions. To this end, it interacts with line ministries and executive secretariats under direct order of the President and the chief of the Civil Cabinet. It also performs short, medium and long-term analyses for the President’s decision-making and monitors the progress of the governmental agenda. It is a relatively small organisation, made up of a co-ordinator and four units: administrative and legal affairs; co-ordination; political studies and relations and communication activities.

  • The Ministry of Finance. Regulated by Law No. 109/1991 and modified by Law 4394/2011, the Ministry of Finance has functions and competencies for the administration of state assets. It is in charge of the budget cycle and has responsibilities in tax policy, public expenditure, debt policy and the pension system. In addition, its responsibilities include the formulation and proposal of the national economic policy, in co-ordination with the Central Bank of Paraguay and other institutions which integrate the economic team.

  • The Technical Secretariat for Economic and Social Development Planning (STP). Created in 1962, and last reformed in 2014, the STP is the central planning body of the Government. The mission of the STP is to co-ordinate, promote, monitor and evaluate the design and implementation of national development strategies. Hence, it is the body in charge of co-ordinating the preparation and implementation of the National Development Plan Paraguay 2030 (NDP). Together with the Ministry of Finance, the STP is responsible for providing guidelines for the preparation of the Institutional Strategic Plans, the Annual Investment Plan, the Annual Operating Plan and the Public Budget. In addition, it is in charge of monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the NDP in co-ordination with the Ministry of Finance. It also is in charge of coordinating the implementation of the poverty reduction program Sewing Opportunities (Sembrando Oportunidades).

In addition, the following institutional units and instruments support co-ordination across government in Paraguay:

  • Social Cabinet. Created by decree 1799/2009, the Social Cabinet of the Presidency of the Republic is the body in charge of promoting, coordinating and directing the government's social policies. It is chaired by the President of the Republic and consists of six ministries, eight executive secretariats and includes the directors of Itaipu and Yacyreta hydroelectric dams. It includes an Executive Team (EE), which consists of three ministries and three executive secretariats, which executes, promotes and co-ordinates the cabinet’s activities. It also has a Technical Unit which is responsible for the administration, co-ordination and supervision of the activities of the Executive Team.

  • National Economic Team. Created by decree 162/2008 (and reformed most recently in 2013), it is the advisory body for the government’s economic policy. Its main responsibility is to advise on global and sectoral programmes of economic and social development. It is chaired by the Minister of Finance and includes the Ministers of Industry and Commerce; Agriculture and Livestock; Public Works and Communications; Foreign Affairs; the President of the Central Bank and the Minister-Executive Secretary of the STP. It also has an Executive Secretariat, headed by the Deputy-Minister of Economy of the Ministry of Finance.

  • Inter-institutional Co-ordination Commission for the Implementation and Monitoring of the Country’s International Commitments within the Framework of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Created by decree 5887/2016, it is co-ordinated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and includes the Social Cabinet, the Minister of Finance and the STP.

  • The National Development Plan Paraguay 2030 (NDP). Approved by Decree No. 2794 in December 2014, it is an instrument of orientation, co-ordination and articulation of the different policies implemented by the Government.

Box 2.2. Delivery units: Finding new ways to improve implementation

To improve policy implementation and achieve the government’s main goals, the United Kingdom developed an approach dubbed Deliverology. The initial approach had three key components: “establishing a small team focused on performance [the delivery unit], gathering performance data to set targets and trajectories, and having routines to drive and ensure a focus on performance” (Barber, Kihn and Moffit, 2011).

More than 15 countries have established delivery units at the national level, but there are also a few at state level (e.g. Maryland, United States) and at local level (Borough of Haringey, London and Buenos Aires). The World Bank, too, established a President’s Delivery Unit in 2014.

While delivery units can be a useful tool to increase implementation, they are no panacea. In fact, they need to be adapted most carefully to the institutional framework within a country in order to have a positive impact. Gold (2014) has identified both the main types of delivery units as well as conditions for their success: delivery units vary in their scope, mostly with regard to what kind of priorities are being tracked (few vs many; service delivery vs high-priority outcomes) and how problems are being solved (stocktakes with the head of government; policy/innovation labs; in-house consultancy work). In order for a delivery unit to be successful, it is important that its scope is well-defined and, ideally, quite narrow. Most crucially, however, the success of a delivery unit depends on the ability of the Centre of Government to co-ordinate the work of line ministries and on the unit’s own ability to establish good working relationships with the counterparts in other government bodies.

Examples of delivery units include:

  • United Kingdom: In 2001, then Prime Minister Blair set up the first Delivery Unit. The unit, which had about 40 members of staff, was first part of the Cabinet Office and later transferred to the Treasury (Ministry of Finance). The unit tracked progress on, and removed obstacles to, the delivery of a very limited number of policy priorities. It also worked with line ministries to identify and overcome implementation challenges. The Delivery Unit was abolished in 2010, following a change in government. In 2012, however, a new Implementation Unit was established in the Cabinet Office. The Implementation Unit adapted a more flexible approach, focusing more on departmental capability than on pure monitoring. Its scope has also been broadened.

  • Australia: The Cabinet Implementation Unit in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, established in 2003 as a fairly small unit of around ten staff, works with Australian government departments and agencies to ensure that the government’s decisions are implemented on time, budget and to expectations. The unit seeks to ensure that policy prepared for consideration by the Prime Minister and Cabinet has clear goals, a robust assessment of costs and benefits, and clarity about how it will be implemented. The unit helps departments and agencies to prepare their implementation plans and to identify, assess, and manage implementation risks. The unit also monitors the progress of the implementation of key government decisions and reports to the Prime Minister and Cabinet on the status of these decisions.

  • Canada: The Privy Council Office of the Government of Canada created in 2016 a Delivery and Results Unit. The unit tracks and provides a status report on the 364 commitments found in the Prime Minister’s mandate letters to ministers, in different areas such as refugees, gender parity, budgeting and employment. Track on progress in publicly available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/privy-council/campaigns/mandate-tracker-results-canadians.html

Source: OECD (2015), Slovak Republic: Better Co-ordination for Better Policies, Services and Results, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264247635-en; adapted from Barber, M., P. Kihn and A. Moffit (2011), “Deliverology. From idea to implementation”, McKinsey & Company; Gold, J. (2014), “International delivery: Centres of government and the drive for better policy implementation”, Mowat Research Papers, No. 96, Mowat Centre, School of Public Policy & Governance, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Strengths and challenges of Paraguay’s Centre of Government

In only four years Paraguay has made substantial progress in setting a long-term vision for the country as well as in enhancing the CoG’s institutional and technical capacities for its pursuit. However, as the Paraguayan Government expressed in the different interviews carried out for the realisation of this review, this was the first step in a long process of changing institutional, cultural and political practices.

In this connection, this section will analyse Paraguay’s CoG performance with regard to the top four areas of work of OECD Centres of Government:

  • Policy co-ordination across government;

  • Supporting decision-making by the head of government/cabinet;

  • Strategic planning for the government as a whole; and

  • Monitoring the implementation of government policy.

All of these elements are affected by three cross-cutting challenges that will be stressed throughout this assessment:

  • Fragmentation of the Executive branch.

  • Numerous institutions at the Presidency.

  • Limited or non-functional co-ordination instruments for high-level policy discussion and decision-making.

Policy co-ordination: the institutional set-up of the Presidency as a barrier for effective co-ordination

Experiences in OECD countries have shown that the process of increasing co-ordination and strategic capacities across government is a long-term endeavour. Moreover it is fraught with certain challenges; notably the resistance of line ministries in aligning their own initiatives with high-level government priorities if this means modifying or delaying decision-making on issues falling under their responsibility (OECD, 2016). Paraguay’s reality does not escape from this situation: according to the Paraguayan Government, public co-ordination within the Executive Branch and with sub-national governments is one of their main governance challenges, especially in strategically key areas contributing to the country’s sustainable development such as health, education and security. Hence, one of the government’s short-term goals in public governance reform is to find agile, efficient and politically viable mechanisms and instruments to enhance systematic cross-government co-ordination (Government of Paraguay, 2017).

In this regard, Paraguay’s Centre of Government co-ordination capacity needs to be assessed in the context of the organisation of the country’s public administration, which combines a highly centralized Presidency with an atomized, fragmented administration:

  • The Presidency houses 22 executive secretariats with ministerial rank and entities that report directly to the President.

  • The State Public Administration is made up of a further 12 ministries, a Central Bank, 4 regulatory entities, 23 autonomous and autarchic entities, 5 public entities for social security matters, 5 public companies, 8 national universities, 2 binational entities, 4 companies partially owned by the state and 17 Departmental governments (where the governors, despite being elected by direct suffrage, are defined under the article 161 of the Constitution as representatives of the central government in their respective Departments – akin to the French or Japanese Prefects).

This is partly the outcome of two important factors:

  • First, a decades-long accumulation of public bodies and entities responding to emerging sectoral needs and/or to give effect to international commitments (Government of Paraguay, 2011). For example, over the last two decades, the fragmentation of the administration has increased considerably: the number of autonomous bodies has gone from 7 in 2000 to 23 in 2016 (7 in 2000, 13 in 2003, 19 in 2010, and 23 in 2016) (Government of Paraguay, 2011) and, according to the Government, there is no current plan to integrate them into the centralised public administration.

  • Second, Paraguay lacks a normative legal/regulatory framework that organises its public administration, which in Latin American countries is usually called “Ley de Ministerios”.

Since the return to democracy, no comprehensive public administration reform has been implemented. The absence of a normative framework that gives coherence to the entire body of institutions and administrative units within the Executive branch has created gaps, overlaps and contradictions in the responsibilities and competences of ministries and secretariats (Government of Paraguay, 2014) while significantly contributing to the institutional atomisation of the public administration.

The responsibilities of each ministry or executive secretariat created by law were discussed with the Congress on a case-by-case basis. The output of these multiples negotiations has affected the coherence between institutional mandates across the public administration and has led to a lack of clarity respecting mandates in several areas. Government officials highlighted during several meetings with the OECD an overlap concerning institutional responsibilities, for instance between the STP and the Minister of Finance on the responsibility of policy monitoring and evaluation across government. In several cases, institutional restructuring has been driven by Congressional initiative, such as in the case of the Ministry of Education and Sciences – formerly the Ministry of Education and Worship – restructured by law Nº 5.749/2017. This situation has also generated gaps in several critical areas such as decentralisation and multilevel governance.

The previous Administration attempted to restructure the Executive Branch without success. It had crafted a project establishing 14 Ministries and eliminating the Executive Secretariats. But it decided not to pursue the reform because of its high political costs. Indeed institutional reforms of this magnitude require a wide political consensus with the public-sector unions and across the different political parties in Congress.

This longstanding situation has led to the creation and accumulation of several Executive Secretariats within the Presidency, mainly due to the following factors:

  • Secretariats are relatively “easier” to create: they can be established by Decree, while Ministries have to be created by law.

  • Administratively, it is simpler to assign a budget to Secretariats, rather than to a Ministry.

  • Executives leading Secretariats also hold a “Minister” rank and equivalent salary and perks.

This state of affairs has led to significant fragmentation of the Executive, which by definition magnifies co-ordination challenges:

  • Only a tiny number of the Presidency’s 22 Executive Secretariats and entities formally performs cross-cutting tasks related to classic CoG responsibilities: the STP, the SFP and the Secretariat for Anti-Corruption;

  • Most of the remaining Secretariats are responsible for sector-based operational policy themes, such as sports, culture, science and technology, refugees and repatriations which, while multi-dimensional in nature in some cases, load the Presidency with a huge number of transactional mandates which could be assigned to line ministries;

  • Another disadvantage of this model is that financial administrators in the Secretariats have to negotiate their budgets internally first with the Presidency budget administrator, and then with the Ministry of the Finance.

Therefore, under current arrangements, the Presidency’s structure generates the need to expend substantive administrative energy on sector-specific activities, which detracts from its capacity to focus on high-level whole-of-government strategic co-ordination. In addition, as will be explained in chapter on Multi-level Governance, this dysfunctional structure limits the Presidency’s capacity (and the Government’s more generally) to co-ordinate across levels of government.

The Government of Paraguay could consider streamlining the Presidency in order to create an agile structure oriented to the performing centre-of-government functions more effectively and efficiently. In this regard, based on the criteria developed by Evans et al. (2010) to assess whether or not a unit should be attached to the CoG, the Government of Paraguay could consider transferring into the portfolio responsibilities of existing line ministries those agencies and Secretariats that do not fulfil the following criteria:

  • Secretariats, agencies and positions which play core CoG functions, particularly on policy co-ordination, strategic planning, monitoring or evaluation of policy priorities, or give high-level strategic advice to the President and Council of Ministers;

  • Secretariats, agencies and positions covering cross-cutting subjects that require, at an initial stage only, the direct engagement of the President, such as sensitive political issues or reform priorities, but that would eventually migrate to their corresponding line ministry;

  • Secretariats, agencies and positions that require independence from line ministers.

The Civil Cabinet and its “Centro de Gobierno” play a pro-active role in policy co-ordination, yet its strategic role could be expanded

The Centro de Gobierno, reporting to the Presidency’s Secretary General, is an interesting institutional arrangement that has been developed thanks to the financial and technical support of international organisations and reflects the experiences of Chile’s and United Kingdom’s Delivery Units (DUs).

Given that the titular head of the Centro de Gobierno is the presidency’s Secretary General, it is an influential institution within the Executive, with the political power to exert pressure on the different ministries, secretariats and levels of government and to act as a co-ordination mechanism for specific purposes. That said the Centro de Gobierno does not have a budget assigned to it as such; nor can it endorse legal acts. This constrains its co-ordination capacity vis- à-vis other ministries and secretariats.

Despite the fact that the Centro de Gobierno performs policy analyses on strategic issues, it does not have a substantive role in strategy-setting linked to whole-of-government strategic planning, to ensure the formulation of the priorities projects that the country needs to reach in pursuit of the 2030 vision. Indeed it did not play a substantive role in the development of the NDP despite the fact that its priorities – mainly infrastructure and PPPs – contribute to the pursuit of the Plan’s implementation.

Hence the Centro de Gobierno and the Civil Cabinet -the Presidency’s Secretariat General in more general terms-, could play a more active role in medium-term strategic planning, working in close partnership with the STP, mainly through greater involvement in monitoring the implementation of the NDP. Moreover, together with the STP and the Ministry of Finance, they could explore engaging more actively in strategic foresight and horizon scanning exercises to inform medium-term planning.

The case of Finland (Box 2.3) could be of particular interest of Paraguay: strategic foresight is managed by the Centre of Government and includes a wide stakeholder engagement process across government, civil society, the academia and the private sector.

Box 2.3. Strategic Foresight in OECD countries

Long-term scanning and foresight provide governments with the information needed to achieve strategic insight, incorporating future concerns and contexts into medium-term strategic planning. From these efforts, governments can be in a better position to articulate a strategic vision for the country and for the government’s plans to implement such a strategic plan – based on available information and input from citizens, businesses and civil society, and aware of future opportunities and risks.

A strategic vision is the expression of a government’s desired or intended future for the country. In a context of less and less predictability and greater complexity in identifying future challenges and priorities properly, governments need to engage in long-term visioning with an increasing multiplicity of internal and external actors if medium-term strategic planning is to reflect emerging trends, challenges and opportunities effectively.

Strategic foresight helps governments look ahead to identify future risks and opportunities as a means of prioritising and focusing government policies over the medium term. Indeed, many OECD countries undertake strategic foresight activities.

Examples of strategic foresight include:

  • Australia: The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, has a dedicated team (CSIRO Futures) working on foresight in energy, transport and other fields. It produces “Our Future World” updates every two years on global megatrends. Multiple other departments do some foresight work. Every five years the Treasury department produces a report on long-term issues (40-year forecast) to help short-run decision making. The establishment of the Strategic Policy Network with representatives from every department, led by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, may impact foresight use for strategic policy.

  • Canada: Multiple government departments have used foresight, and this has increased in the last few years with the creation of Policy Horizons Canada (PHC), a centralised agency for doing foresight work and building foresight capacity in government. The PHC is directed by a high-level steering committee of deputy ministers and reports to the Privy Council.

  • Finland: Foresight is well-integrated into Finnish policy planning. The Government Foresight Report, prepared through wide consultation by the Prime Minister’s Office, is prepared at the start of the mandate for a new incoming government. During the mandate, the Government Foresight Network develops a report on the Finnish policy-making environment and each ministry has dedicated staff to develop Ministries Futures Reviews. The Finnish parliament’s also has a Committee for the Future to pursue and review foresight work.

  • France: France has, together with Finland, the longest-established foresight programme in Europe, with policy-focused foresight services in almost every department. The centre d’analyse stratégique works directly under the Prime Minister to advice on policy formulation and implementation.

  • United Kingdom: Government foresight in the United Kingdom is dominated by the UK Foresight Office, a central agency of government that reports directly to Cabinet, and is headed by the Chief Scientific Advisor. It was originally dedicated to technology and industry but now has a broader thematic mandate to look at challenges for the future, pursuing major foresight projects, horizon scanning and training activities across government.

Source: OECD (2016b), OECD Public Governance Reviews: Peru: Integrated Governance for Inclusive Growth, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264265172-en; adapted from Dreyer, I. and G. Stang (2014), “Foresight in governments: Practices and trends around the world”, www.iss.europa.eu/fileadmin/euiss/documents/Books/Yearbook/2.1_Foresight_in_governments.pdf

Decision-making led by the Centre of Government is also affected by the Executive’s institutional set-up

The absence of a normative framework organising the Executive Branch has also undermined the capacity of the Council of Ministers to act as the government’s main body in charge of co-ordinating, promoting and carrying out government policy. In today’s Council of Ministers, neither the Executive secretariats (whose heads hold ministerial rank) nor the decentralised bodies are represented despite the key functions that some of them play in the Government, as the Constitution only allows the participation of Ministers within the Council.

Consequently, the Council of Ministers does not meet on a regular basis, its power in practical terms is limited and, therefore, Paraguay does not have a formal decision-making and co-ordination instrument that unites all key governmental actors around a single table to discuss strategic policy issues and oversee the design and roll-out of whole-of-government policy responses to these issues. While several whole-of-government decision-making instruments co-exist, most are informal and focus on policy execution rather than decision-making and lack sufficient mandates and structures to be effective in defining and co-ordinating the implementation of high-level strategic policy. That said:

  • Two interesting institutional practices are the ones pursued by the Social Cabinet and the Economic Team. The Social Cabinet, in order to facilitate and sharpen decision-making, created an Executive team which prepares an agenda at the beginning of each year in co-ordination with the Ministry of Finance to ensure resource allocation to social policy issues. Moreover, it co-ordinates closely with the STP and the Centro de Gobierno to ensure that social priorities are monitored.

  • The Inter-institutional Commission for the Implementation and Monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals constitutes an unprecedented initiative in Paraguay to translate the UN Agenda 2030 global commitments into national strategy, achieving a close alignment of the NDP with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

  • In addition to these councils and commissions, several ad hoc co-ordination activities are pursued, especially between the STP, the Ministry of Finance and organisations involved in specific objectives of the NDP. However, these are mainly focused on policy execution and not on policy design and decision-making. In addition these activities are neither systematic nor based on administrative regulations or mandates.

Hence, Paraguay could consider restructuring and simplifying its institutional arrangements and decision-making instruments in order to improve strategic co-ordination:

  • First, the Government could consider strengthening the Council of Ministers, ensuring that it meets regularly, in order to allow for dynamic exchange of information and the adjudication of strategic policies priorities of importance to the government as a whole. Key Executive Secretariats should participate in the meetings of the Council, as is currently happening when it meets.

  • Second, in order simplify the decision-making process and to consider economic and social development policy in an integrated way and as an essential driver of medium-term strategic planning for the country’s growth and development, the government could consider consolidating the Economic Team and the Social Cabinet, transforming them into a National Economic and Social Development Cabinet.

In this regard, Colombia’s experience with its Superior Councils of the administration (Box 2.4) represents an initiative that might be of interest to Paraguay, especially with regard to Colombia’s National Council on Economic and Social Policy (CONPES), which co-ordinates economic development and strategic planning for development. Its membership extends beyond ministries, and it has a clear institutional structure where the National Planning Department acts as its Executive Secretariat. This is an institutional arrangement that Colombia has been using for some time now to support whole-of-government decision-making regarding strategic policy design and implementation for the country’s development.

Box 2.4. Colombia’s superior councils: Institutional arrangements to assist integrated decision making

The superior councils of the administration in Colombia manage the policy-setting, co-ordination and implementation activities of the national executive branch. These councils are analogous in their make-up to Cabinet committees in OECD countries; however, an important difference in Colombia is that their membership extends beyond ministers to include directors of key administrative departments, the entities that perform the centre of government-like functions of co-ordinating horizontal multi-sector policy development, implementation and evaluation across the government.

The role of these councils is to support the President and the government in formulating, implementing and evaluating policy. The most important superior councils are the Council of Ministers (Consejo de Ministros), the National Council on Economic and Social Policy (Consejo Nacional de Política Económica y Social, CONPES) and the Superior Council on Fiscal Policy (Consejo Superior de Política Fiscal, CONFIS).

The Council of Ministers is composed by the President and the Ministers, and advice the President on planning strategies or on crucial/circumstantial topics. Although, the President or Ministers are not constraint by law to the conclusions or decisions made during the sessions. It depends then on the President and his Cabinet to enforce the guidelines resulting from the Council sessions.

CONPES is chaired by the President and composed of the Vice-President, the Ministers of each one of the 13 Ministries, the directors from the Presidency’s Management Department (Departamento Administrativo de la Presidencia de la República), the National Planning Department (Departamento Nacional de Planeación, DNP), a CoG institution that acts as the technical secretariat of CONPES. The Judiciary Secretary of the Presidency and the Advisor Minister of the Presidency are also present and vote as permanent members. Its relevance originates from the inclusion on the sessions – without voting rights - of directors of other central government’s departments, regional governors and mayors, depending on topic discussed.

The subdirector of the DNP acts as Executive Secretary of the CONPES being responsible for presenting the planning documents to be discussed. These documents can come from sources such as research documents made by the public and private sector, quadrennial public investments programmes and planning documents.

The members of the CONPES in session will evaluate and discuss the documents proposed by the Executive Secretary and then, the members with vote rights will vote its approval or not. After approval, the document becomes a “Documento CONPES”, which provides guidelines and planning policy across government. A “Documento CONPES” is not legally binding, but public entities have to make a case when deviating from the guidelines established by it.

When it comes to planning on fiscal and budgetary actions, the government counts with the CONFIS, which is headed by the Minister of the Treasury Department (Ministerio de Hacienda y Crédito Público) and is composed by the Director of the DNP, the Economic Advisor of the Presidency, the Vice-Ministers of Treasury, the General Directors of National Budget, Credit, Taxes and Loyalties and of the Treasury. CONFIS manages the industrial and commercial firms of the State, approves the Financial Plan of the Public Sector (Plan Financiero del Sector Público) and the Investments Annual Operational Plan (Plan Operativo Anual de Inversiones), after presenting them to the CONPES.

Source: OECD (2013a), Colombia: Implementing Good Governance, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264202177-en.; República de Colombia, Decretos 2148 (2009) and Law 179 (1994)

Strategic Planning: the National Development Plan as a significant step forward

OECD work shows that since the past decade the Centre of Government plays an expanded and more outward-looking role, including in the area of whole-of-government strategic planning (OECD, 2014). This is mainly due to the increasing complexity of policy making: policy challenges are become increasingly multi-dimensional (for instance those relating to development or to climate change), and therefore, require more integrated, coherent policy responses.

Anchored in a broad, compelling vision statement, whole-of-government planning can help align government structures to deliver results. A solid whole-of government planning framework can provide governments with a powerful tool to:

  • Articulate its short, medium and long term priorities.

  • Cluster policy initiatives around a small number of integrated policy priorities.

  • Steer their implementation across administrative units and departments, promoting collaboration.

  • Communicate effectively on progress, internally and externally (OECD, 2016).

In this connection, multi-year, whole-of-government strategic planning constitutes a key achievement of Paraguay’s current Executive. The “National Development Plan Paraguay 2030” is a remarkable step toward the development of an instrument for systematic whole-of-government co-ordination and its pursuit constitutes a government-wide priority that is illustrated by the gradual increase in institutional capacity and resources assigned for its execution.

The design of the NDP: the importance of stakeholder engagement

The preparation of the current NDP started in November 2013 and was completed in December 2014. It was prepared under the co-ordination of the STP and was approved by the Economic Team and the Executive Team of the Social Cabinet. It is structured around three main strategic axes:

  • Poverty reduction and social development;

  • Inclusive economic growth; and

  • Paraguay's integration in the world.

Each strategic axis incorporates four transversal lines:

  • Equal opportunities;

  • Efficient and transparent public management;

  • Territorial planning and development; and

  • Environmental sustainability.

The interaction of the 3 strategic axes with the 4 transversal lines results in 12 strategies and subsequently sectorial and specific objectives that guide public policies toward the 2030 vision.

Recent experiences in OECD countries show that when the planning process is open and includes stakeholder engagement, such as citizen-driven approaches through citizen participation mechanisms, strategic planning can legitimate policymaking as well as constitute an effective tool for the sustainability of policies beyond the electoral cycle (OECD, 2016). In this connection the elaboration of the NDP began with a wide process of consultations in meetings and workshops, carried out in 10 departments, which included the participation of more than 2000 representatives from different sectors: central government, subnational government, civil society, private sector and the academia.

After this consultation process, the main objectives and policy guidelines were identified; the drafting process began based on several sector reports already published by line ministries. Once drafted, it was circulated and discussed across the government. In addition, international consultants assessed the relevance of the proposals made in the workshops, as well as the different proposals made by public institutions. Finally, the NPD was approved by Decree.

This process included interesting initiatives for citizen engagement, in particular at the department and district levels, through the creation of more than 250 Department and Municipal Developments Plans co-created with civil society (see chapters 4 on Multi-level Governance and 6 on Open Government).

The government created the Country National Strategy Team (Equipo Nacional de Estrategia País - ENEP) with the purpose of developing a space for dialogue with citizens on strategic issues. The ENEP is made up of representatives from the government and key stakeholders from Paraguay’s civil society: entrepreneurs, indigenous people, farmers, industrialists, social activists and academics, among others. Chaired by the President of the Republic, its function is to provide advice on issues that are submitted from the Executive Branch (such as the NDP) and to propose topics that it considers relevant for the construction of public policies, particularly those linked to poverty. In this regard, it acts as the NDP’s “guardian”, aiming to ensure the implementation and sustainability of the plan.

Building on the Administration’s efforts to create broad internal and stakeholder consensus on the NDP, ownership of the Plan could be broadened, in particular across the Executive branch, where, during the fact finding mission several institutions expressed a lack of awareness/ownership. Bringing the NDP under the purview of the Council of Ministers, the proposed National Economic and Social Development Cabinet (the proposed merger of the Social Cabinet and Economic Team) and the NPD Coordination Roundtable could significantly enhance whole-of-government awareness and ownership of the NDP.

The Implementation of the NDP

In accordance with this Plan, the Government has been implementing various programmes and actions. Through the process of national planning, ancillary co-ordination tools have been developed, such as committees and inter-institutional working groups, co-ordinated by the STP and the Ministry of Finance. Moreover, those institutions have issued specific guidelines for planning, programming, budgeting, execution and monitoring of public policies, and for the development of management instruments, such as strategic institutional plans, annual plan for investment, annual operating plans, procurement plans and budgeting.

To implement the NDP, the Government of Paraguay has developed an integrated framework structured around five fundamental steps:

  1. Translate Paraguayan society’s shared vision into legal instruments.

  2. Prioritize the implementation of the 12 strategic goals, with their key objectives, monitor them systematically and evaluate their progress periodically.

  3. Ensure effective horizontal and vertical co-ordination in the design and implementation of key public policies.

  4. Improve human resources management.

  5. Establish a sustainable financing mechanism for key initiatives, mainly through better efficiency in public spending.

As will be explained in Chapter 3, the NDP must be linked with the budget process through Annual Operation Plans (AOPs), which are the basis for the preparation of institutional budgets. This process is carried out by the Ministry of Finance, which together with the STP, prepares the guidelines for the national budget in the first months of every year. Subsequently, the different government’s entities are presented with the priorities for the fiscal year and the general guidelines for the preparation of the AOPs and the budget according to the objectives of the fiscal policy. Based on these guidelines, the institutions prepare their respective AOPs and budgets, which have to translate the NDP’s strategic objectives into annual goals and specific actions to be executed in each fiscal period. In the national budget, the goals, the levels of responsibility and the resources that are necessary to reach those goals should be set. However, as is explained in Chapter 3, linking strategic planning with budgeting is a complex process that Paraguay has recently undertook, hence the country stills faces several challenges in this regard.

Moreover, the implementation of the NDP foresees the creation of an inter-institutional co-ordination structure, headed by the Council of Ministers and includes the Social Cabinet and the Economic Team. It also establishes the creation of national councils in areas such as Science and Technology, Defence, Environment and Integrity. Moreover, sectoral entities, such as the ministries and secretaries are to be integrated into this co-ordination structure through its sectoral plans. The entities responsible for cross-sectoral themes, such as Environment, Territorial Development, Justice, Gender and Indigenous Peoples, are to play a leading co-ordinating role in these areas. In addition, each ministry, secretariat and decentralised body has to develop an Institutional Strategic Plan, which is a management tool to set department’s short, medium and long term goals.

To date, this inter-institutional co-ordination structure has not been completely put in place, which has limited the NDP’s utility as an effective co-ordination instrument. Therefore, both the Council of Ministers and the National Economic and Social Development Cabinet (whose creation is recommended in this chapter), could play a more active role in overseeing the implementation of the Plan. In addition, the STP, as body in charge of co-ordinating the NDP across government, should have the necessary capacities to ensure, in coordination with the Ministry of Finance and the other CoG entities, the coherence between the NDP, ministry Institutional Strategic Plans, and the budget (see Chapter 3).

On vertical co-ordination similar challenges remain. As will be described in Chapter 4, the STP is in charge of co-ordinating the NDP across the different levels of government (Departments and Districts), through providing guidance and technical assistance for the development of Department Development Plans and Municipal Development Plans.

Monitoring and evaluating the performance of government policy: the example of “Sowing Opportunities”

Sound monitoring and evaluation of the performance and progress of public interventions allow governments to gain a better understanding on why some policies and programmes work and others do not. It also provides the basis to feed strategic information into the decision-making process in order to improve future policy initiatives. Sound policy monitoring and evaluation can foster transparency, accountability and therefore legitimate the use of public resources, providing stakeholders with information regarding progress in the accomplishment of the government’s goals and commitments (OECD, 2015).

In this connection, the monitoring of the performance of strategic priorities has become one of the CoG major responsibilities to ensure that government policies are being implemented effectively and in a co-ordinated manner (OECD, forthcoming). Moreover, CoGs are progressively putting monitoring efforts on policy alignment and impact rather than on tracking expenditures, mainly to ensure good co-ordination in regard to the increasing number of cross-sectorial policy initiatives and to communicate progress and achievements to internal and external stakeholder. According to the latest OECD survey on CoG (forthcoming), these monitoring functions are carried out, increasingly, by dedicated monitoring units, such as results and delivery unit, government projects unit, government co-ordination unit, each of them with different capacities.

In this line, Paraguay’s Centro de Gobierno represents a clear illustration of this international tendency of enhancing capacities at the CoG level to monitor policy priorities. Created in 2014, it monitors the implementation of the 17 main government’s objectives. These objectives, mainly focusing on infrastructure projects, are monitored through a presidential dashboard, called “Tablero de Control Presidencial” which was developed with the technical assistance of the STP. Nevertheless, the monitor capacities of the Centro de Gobierno are not linked with the implementation of medium- and long-term strategic goals such as the ones reflected in the NDP. Moreover, as aforementioned, the Centro de Gobierno cannot endorse legal acts.

From an institutional perspective, the STP is the governing body for national planning, monitoring and evaluation systems (decree 4070/2004). In this connection, it is mandated to ensure the monitoring and evaluation of the NDP in co-ordination with the Ministry of Finance (Government of Paraguay, 2017). However, according to information gathered during the fact finding mission, the STP appears not to have enough human and financial resources to monitor its implementation. Even though the plan was launched almost four years ago, the STP only has the capacity to focus on monitoring the “Sowing Opportunities” social-policy project (Sembrando Oportunidades).

Sowing Opportunities is a central government project, part of the NDP’s axis on poverty reduction, and can be seen as an example of whole-of-government co-ordination efforts to achieve integrated strategic outcomes. With Decree No. 291/2013, the Executive Branch declared poverty reduction as a national priority and entrusted the STP with the preparation and management of this national program. Hence, over the past four years, the STP has been strengthened through the allocation of budgetary resources and the incorporation of qualified human resources to its implementation.

Sowing Opportunities aims to increase income and access to basic social services for families living in extreme poverty. It is structured around two complementary axes.

  • The first one consists of providing comprehensive assistance to rural families on agricultural issues: they receive technical, financial and organizational assistance to produce goods for self-consumption and income. Since it was launched, more than 150,000 families have received seeds to grow their own food; and more than 116,000 families have benefited from productive and marketing technical assistance.

  • The second axis focuses on the promotion of non-agricultural employment. It consists of activities aiming to generate jobs in social infrastructure and focuses on training for technical careers. Social infrastructure includes maintenance of rural roads, schools, health posts, and water and sanitation systems, among others.

The programme involves 18 institutions from the central government and numerous departments and municipalities, being the program demanding the greater cross-cutting co-ordination of the Government of Paraguay. The STP is responsible for its preparation, implementation and management, while the Social Cabinet is responsible for the co-ordination and articulation with institutions, which includes municipalities and departments, as well as civil society organisations and private companies that participate in various initiatives. The programme’s monitoring is carried out through the presidential and citizen dashboard, which 200 users in the 18 participating institutions use to upload and update information on the progress of their projects.

As with the NDP itself, however, the project faces serious challenges in terms of sustainability. It does not have its own budget and several of its activities - especially in relation to logistics and monitoring - are financed by international donors. In addition, there are co-ordination problems due to the co-existence of multiple interlocutors on social issues (Social Cabinet, Secretary of Social Action, STP, etc) which sometimes compete for the leadership of the project. Moreover, there is a lack of capacity at the ministry level to implement the project.

These issues reflect the long term challenges that the Paraguayan administration as a whole has been facing over the past few decades, which it is actively tackling. Sowing Opportunities certainly represents a tangible example of the CoG potential to co-ordinate strategic initiatives across government, and shows the potential of institutionalising robust strategic government-wide monitoring and evaluation. In fact:

  • The PND foresees a Public Management National Council for Evaluation (CNE) and establishes guidelines for the development a biannual evaluation agenda to define the priority programmes and institutions to be evaluated, the type of evaluations to be applied, as well as the resources to be assigned to carry them out.

  • Within the framework of the CNE’s actions, specific revisions of budgetary programmes of various types are planned (see Chapter 3), as are process evaluations, to determine bottlenecks and impact, and to assess changes in the welfare conditions served by the programme. The NDP also foresees evaluations of implementing results-based management across government and lays down that key stakeholders such as the executive, the congress and the civil society must be informed of monitoring and evaluation results in a timely manner so they can be used in budgeting discussions (see Chapter 3).

However, despite the fact that the NPD was launched almost four years ago, the National Evaluation Council has not yet been created. This situation can be partly explained by a lack of co-ordination and agreement between the STP and the Ministry of Finance regarding which institution should lead evaluation across government. On the one hand, as mentioned, the STP is the governing body for national evaluation systems, while on the other hand the Ministry of Finance has been performing impact evaluations since 2001, including in a broad range of areas such as childhood, industry, education, agriculture and health (Ministry of Finance of Paraguay, 2016). The Government of Paraguay could therefore move to institutionalise evaluation across government, to ensure the quality and independence of evaluation and to ensure that the results of evaluation inform future policy design through effective feedback loops. In this context, the Colombian experience with its SINERGIA evaluation framework could provide useful lessons for Paraguay (Box 2.5).

Box 2.5. Colombia’s SINERGIA

The Colombian Constitution requires that all public policies shall be monitored and evaluated and SINERGIA is the national system responsible for doing so. SINERGIA is led by the Direction of Public Policy Evaluation within the National Planning Department and the Presidency of the Republic. It must be implemented by all subnational governments, with the aim of aligning municipal and departmental policy interventions and investment agendas with those of the National Development Plan (this monitoring component is called SINERGIA TERRITORIAL). SINERGIA measures the progress and goals of the projects included in the National Development Plan through three main tools:

  • SISMEG (monitoring): a set of performance indicators which measures policy outputs and outcomes as identified by the National Development Plan. It is built following a pyramidal structure with three main levels: strategic, sector and management. Strategic indicators are at the top and are related to the main government pillars as stated in the National Development Plan. These are followed up by the President and the Council of Ministers. Sector indicators describe sector-specific goals and are monitored by the President and each minister in bilateral meetings and within each ministry. Finally, management indicators are standard indicators that are measured for all of the entities to track institutional efficiency.

  • SISDEVAL (Sistema Nacional de Evaluaciones) is a system to evaluate the outcomes of the main public policies and programmes implemented within the framework of the National Development Plan. Every year, the policies that will be evaluated are elected by a committee of the National Planning Department and approved by the National Council on Economic and Social Policies. Policies are evaluated by a recognised, experienced third party (consultancy) so as to guarantee objectivity and transparency in the process. Since the creation of SISDEVAL, the number of evaluations has increased significantly, from one in 2003 to 32 in 2011.

  • Polls: nationwide polls are carried out periodically so as to compare public perception and government results. The results of the polls are public and can be found on SISDEVAL's website. Surveys measure perception of the way the government is achieving the goals that it set.

In the beginning, SINERGIA focused on central government management only. In 2004, its scope was broadened to include the monitoring of territorial management and decentralised entities. Today, it provides information on the overall performance of public policies across all levels of government in Colombia.

Through SINERGIA, follow-up is readily available. The Presidency, the government and citizens can follow up on the government’s performance. It is an essential tool for building trust in government and has been recognised by the OECD as already being one of the strongest in Latin America.

For more information see: https://sinergia.dnp.gov.co/Paginas/inicio.aspx.

Source: OECD (2013), Colombia: Implementing Good Governance, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264202177-en

Recommendations

Paraguay has made substantive progress in setting a medium-term vision for the country and in aligning the public sector against achieving these goals. The recent multi-year National Development Plan constitutes a key whole-of-government coordination instrument, which has improved the Centre of Government’s efficiency for policy making.

OECD lessons learned in Public Governance Reviews have shown that Governments tend to coordinate better when the presidency/prime minister’s office plays a strategically agile whole-of-government role, focusing on strategic issues rather than on transactional policy implementation. In this regard, to enhance the capacities of its CoG to lead and co-ordinate multi-dimensional, government-wide strategic policy design, planning, implementation and the monitoring and evaluation of policy performance, the Government of Paraguay could consider the following:

  • Consolidate the Presidency’s whole-of-Government co-ordination mandate and capacity by transferring into the portfolio responsibilities of existing line ministries all units that do not contribute to its core mandate so that it can concentrate its responsibilities, resources, and efforts in sustaining effective whole-of-government coordination and integrated strategic planning and performance-monitoring. Paraguay currently counts 34 institutions reporting directly to the Presidency (12 Ministries and 22 executive secretariats and entities). This aggravates the fragmentation of the public sector and the workload of the Presidency, diminishing its capacity to focus its efforts on the co-ordination of whole-of-government strategic priorities. Therefore, Paraguay could consider moving into the portfolio responsibilities of relevant line ministries those agencies and Secretariats that do not fulfil the following criteria:

    • Institutions which execute core functions relating to whole-of-government policy co-ordination, strategic planning, monitoring or evaluation of policy performance, or give high level-advice to the President and Council of Ministers, such as the Centro de Gobierno and the STP.

    • Units addressing high-priority cross-cutting strategically sensitive subjects that require, at an initial stage only, the direct engagement of the President, such as new cross-cutting political issues or sensitive reform priorities, but which would eventually migrate to their relevant line ministry. While this is a relatively infrequent phenomenon it is not uncommon. For example:

      • In Canada, following the 2006 federal election, the incoming Federal Government created a Cities Secretariat to design and lead the implementation of a national strategy to support the sustainable development of Canada’s cities and communities, one of the incoming Prime Minister’s key election commitments. This was a new policy area for the Federal Government: the Canadian Constitution assigns responsibility for municipalities to the Provincial (constituent) level of government. Given the newness of the policy area and its obvious multidimensionality, the new Prime Minister located the Secretariat within the Privy Council Office (the CoG unit reporting to the PM as Head of Government, equivalent to Paraguay’s Presidency). By 2008, however, as the key players in this policy area across the government and in the provincial administrations became more aware of, and comfortable with, the policy initiative and its strategic framework, this Secretariat was moved from the PCO into the ministry responsible for Infrastructure, located within the portfolio of the Federal Department of Transport.

      • In order for Paraguay to avoid the accumulation of bodies within the Presidency, the guiding criterion should be that direct reporting to the President should be used sparingly, and should only occur during the initial strategic policy-development stage. Once mature, these units should move to their relevant line ministry. Existing units currently falling within this category (i.e. the Executive Secretariats addressing the operational policy themes highlighted in this Chapter) would not be covered by this criterion and should be moved to their relevant line ministry.

    • Institutions or Agencies that require independence from line Ministers, such as the General Directorate of Statistics Surveys and Censuses (Dirección General de Estadísiticas Encuestas y Censos) and the National Anti-Corruption Secretariat (Secretaría Nacional Anticorrupción).

  • Strengthen capacity for high-level policy discussion and decision-making, in particular by:

    • Strengthening the Council of Ministers. The Council should meet regularly, in order to allow for dynamic exchange of information and the adjudication of strategic policies priorities of importance to the government as a whole. Key Executive Secretariats should participate in the meetings of the Council, as is currently happening when it meets.

    • Merging the Social Cabinet and Economic Team into a National Economic and Social Development Cabinet, and mandating this merged committee of Ministers to serve as the key strategic policy committee of the Council of Ministers, perhaps chaired by the President, so that the Government can pursue integrated economic and social development policy design and implementation in a way that reflects the strategic medium-term development objectives identified for the country in the NDP. Paraguay could consider providing this new policy committee of the Council of Ministers with the mandate and tools to consolidate it as the highest strategic policy co-ordination and planning authority in the country reporting to the Council of Ministers and the President. Sub-committees could be created to discuss more technical issues.

      • Colombia’s Council of Ministers and CONPES practices could be instructive in this regard – CONPES, Colombia’s most important integrated social and economic policy committee, is in fact a committee of the Council of Ministers and is chaired by the President; Colombia’s Department of National Planning, one of Colombia’s key CoG institutions along with the Presidency and the Ministry of Finance, acts as the CONPES’ technical secretariat.

  • Strengthen inter-institutional co-ordination between CoG units to reinforce whole-of-government, integrated policy design, medium-term strategic planning and strategic performance-monitoring capacity, in particular by:

    • Giving to the Centro de Gobierno a budget line, the capacity to endorse legal acts and strengthening the Civil Cabinet/Centro de Gobierno mandate/competencies in policy co-ordination, government communication and strategic affairs. For instance, some countries have operationalised this measure through the creation of a Ministry of the Presidency, such as the cases of Chile and Spain.

    • Engaging the Presidency/“Centro de Gobierno” more actively in coordinating the design and implementation of the National Development Plan and of national development strategies more generally, for instance by creating a NDP Co-ordination Technical Roundtable to sustain greater ongoing cooperation between the Presidency, the Centro de Gobierno, the Ministry of Finance, the STP and the CoG technical/policy support units/secretariats currently serving the Social Cabinet and the Economic Team. This could encourage all these CoG entities to work together as a single team to support the President, the Council of Ministers and eventually this merged National Economic and Social Development Cabinet in pursuing integrated economic and social development in a way that reflects the strategic medium-term development objectives identified for the country in the NDP.

  • Continue improving the strategic planning capacity of the CoG and the monitoring and evaluation capacity for impact and sustainability of the NDP, in particular by:

    • Developing strategic foresight and horizon scanning capacity to inform medium-term planning. In this regard, the government could consider the creation of a Strategic Foresight unit within the Centro de Gobierno or the STP, which would incorporate future trends and concerns into medium-term strategic planning and the NDP, through high quality reports based on available information and input across government, from citizens, business, civil society and international organisations.

    • Strengthening monitoring and evaluation capacities across government and in particular of the NDP by:

      • Creating the national evaluation council, while ensuring the implementation of mechanisms to ensure stakeholder engagement in the evaluation process, the quality of evaluations and that the results of evaluations actually inform policy-making.

      • Conducting an in-depth independent evaluation of the National Development Plan for the period 2014-2018, to assess what worked and what did not work on its implementation, and make corrections if necessary. This could include conducting NDP perception surveys, to compare public perception and government results the results of polls.

    • Articulating the next phases of a State Modernisation Agenda, aligned with the State Modernisation goals of the National Development Plan, to guide and link the respective government strategies in public sector reform, budget reform and open government, and other governance areas, both at the national and subnational level (see recommendations on chapter 4). The rationale of this modernisation agenda is to establish the public governance reform process as a means to achieve Paraguay’s strategic development vision and objectives as laid out in the NDP more efficiently and effectively. Paraguay could consider making this modernisation agenda the subject of an effective stakeholder engagement process as an integral element in an eventual update of the National Development Plan.

References

Alessandro, M, M. Lafuente and C. Santiso (2013) The Role of the Center of Government: a Literature Review, Institutions for Development, Technical Note, IDB-TN-581, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC, https://publications.iadb.org/handle/11319/5988

Beuselinck E. (2008) Shifting public sector co-ordination and the underlying drivers of change: a neo-institutional perspective, KU Leuven, Leuven.

Evans, G., et al. 2010. “Romania – Functional Review – Center of Government.” Washington, DC: World Bank

Government of Paraguay (2017), “Background report to the questionnaire from the OECD”, unpublished working paper.

Government of Paraguay (2014), “Plan Nacional de Desarrollo 2030”. www.stp.gov.py/pnd/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/pnd2030.pdf

Government of Paraguay (2011) Proyecto de Innovación Estructural del Poder Ejecutivo de la República del Paraguay: Diagnóstico Preliminarde la Estructura Actual del Poder Ejecutivo.

Ministry of Finance of Paraguay (2016), Budgeting for Results Progress 2015, http://www.hacienda.gov.py/web-presupuesto/index.php?c=264

OECD (forthcoming) 2017 Survey on the Organisation and Functions of the Centre of Government, OECD, Paris.

OECD (2016), Northern Ireland (United Kingdom): Implementing Joined-up Governance for a Common Purpose, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264260016-en

OECD (2016b) OECD Public Governance Reviews: Peru: Integrated Governance for Inclusive Growth, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264265172-en;

OECD (2015), Slovak Republic: Better Co-ordination for Better Policies, Services and Results, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264247635-en

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

OECD (2013), Colombia: Implementing Good Governance, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264202177-en.

OECD (2011) Estonia: Towards a Single Government Approach, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264104860-en

Peters, G. R. Rhodes, and V. Wright (2000). Administering the Summit. Administration of the Core Executive in Developed Countries. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Note

← 1. Composed by the Ministries of Agriculture and Livestock; National Defence; Education and Sciences; Finance; Interior; Industry and Commerce; Justice; Women; Public Works and Communications; Foreign Affairs; Public Health and Social Welfare; Labour, Employment and Social Security.