The sector responsibility of governmental bodies - liability system or semantics?


  • Ann-Sofie Stenerus
  • Per Larsson
  • Carl Denward

Publish date: 2017-12-19

Report number: FOI-R--4542--SE

Pages: 76

Written in: Swedish


  • sector responsibility
  • sector
  • governmental bodies
  • governmental authorities
  • preparedness
  • crisis preparedness
  • civil defense
  • governmental responsibilities
  • governing processes


This paper contains an investigative study, focusing on the so called sector responsibility of the Swedish governmental bodies within the preparedness and civil defense areas. The investigation's purpose is to identify shortcomings and to suggest improvements to the liability system regarding preparedness and civil defense. The result is based on two inquisitive actions, the first involving a literature study, targeting official documents, studies, reports and governmental propositions. The study is also based on a semi-structured interview study, encompassing respondents deriving from a selection of governmental bodies, the Government Offices and preparedness experts. The study concludes that the sector responsibility can be explained through two primary perspectives. First, sector responsibility can be explained as pure semantics - a term used in the Swedish public administrative discourse in order to emphasize the fact that an authority has some kind of intuitive but unspecified responsibility for a vaguely defined societal domain. Second, sector responsibility is also seen as a vital liability system which ensures the Swedish governmental bodies' commitment regarding preparedness and civil defense issues. In a context of policymaking, the study argues that the Swedish preparedness and civil defense system is in need of a comprehensive, systematic and pronounced distribution of responsibility for the relevant governmental bodies. Responsibility should in turn be distributed in respective authority's formal instructions instead of being dispersed in generic regulations targeting preparedness authorities in general. This policy action could be vital in securing coordination effects between authorities which for instance operate in related areas, or conduct interdependent activities. Additionally, a more pronounced and systematic distribution of responsibility might also be important as Swedish governmental policy stipulates that the emerging new civil defense system is to be mounted on the structures and activities of the peacetime preparedness system.