The National Audit Office of Finland (NAOF) has reviewed inter-authority cooperation in central government, in the administrative sector of the Ministry of the Interior, in particular. Based on the results, a key prerequisite for successful inter-authority cooperation is a clear goal. A problem detected during the review was that resources required for and the benefits offered by inter-authority cooperation are not currently being commonly assessed.
Adaptation to more meagre resources and resolving problems across administrative sectors require functional inter-authority cooperation. The silo structure of the administration does not promote the success of inter-authority cooperation. The coordination system in the preparation of EU matters at the national level could be applied to cooperation across administrative sectors.
According to the results, cooperation between parties in the security sector is functional and practised. Due to its flexibility and efficiency, networked, informal and agile cooperation has become the practice in the security sector and also more extensively in central government.
The content and operating methods in inter-authority cooperation vary, which makes measuring the results very difficult. Measuring would be important in order to assess the benefits, however. The development and monitoring of cooperation could be started with a pilot project where the resources used in cooperation and the benefits achieved were assessed in the case of specific cooperation projects.
The review investigated factors that promote and hamper inter-authority cooperation. The setting of goals, good coordination and a confidential atmosphere that enables open communication are important prerequisites for successful cooperation, while factors that hamper inter-authority cooperation include unclear goals, the silo structure of central government and uncoordinated work.
The review is the first part of the NAOF’s audit theme “Citizen security in the changing operating environment”. At the turn of the year, three audits focusing on this theme will be published: traffic control by the police, inter-authority cooperation in security services in sparsely populated areas and critical pathways in first-aid.