Search This Blog

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Agencies = a center for national expert competence?

The Swedish government yesterday announced the moving of seven agencies from Stockholm to smaller cities. The main reason for this is to reduce the focus on Stockholm and include all of Sweden in the state affairs. I don’t mind this ambition. However, for me, it seems obvious that the availability of competence should be the first principle of government agency location. It takes both relevant education and experience to understand an area of interest for a government agency, such as the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority. Therefore, the two criteria that must be fulfilled when moving an agency is that the new location has a university with an internationally renowned education in the area of focus and a large stock of professionals working within the area of focus.
For example, the Swedish Transport Agency has, among other departments, its Civil Aviation and Maritime Department located in Norrköping since many years. However, maritime knowledge is in Sweden mainly located in Gothenburg, Stockholm and Kalmar and aviation knowledge mainly in Stockholm and Linköping. The agency is the one defining the quality of the Swedish transport system and the Civil Aviation and Maritime Department among other things formulate regulations and analyze accidents and near-misses. This is, of course, important tasks and demands both method knowledge and knowledge about the aviation and maritime industry. A couple of years ago I applied for a job at the Civil Aviation and Maritime Department. A job I think is important and sounded like fun, but, to be honest, I wasn’t interested to move for it. However, I didn’t need to consider moving because I was “by far the most suitable applicant and therefore over qualified”. That said more about the agencies view on their competence needs than what it said about me (I’m no rock star safety expert, I’m only a regular safety interested guy).
Working with competence within the Swedish government system, I’ve also learned that very few agencies have a career path for experts, i.e., being an expert does not pay off.
I don’t like the notion that everybody can do everything, I like the idea of professions and matching competence (education and experience) with the task. I’ve had so many inspiring talks with real experts ranging from stainless steel welders to professors in philosophy. I would like that the Swedish government agencies were environments for experts in the respective fields. It’s a matter of quality.

No comments:

Post a Comment