Supply of food and medicinal products Read full text in English
1 Unclear governance and division of responsibilities
Lower emergency preparedness
The first audit question concerns whether the Government has been sufficiently clear in its governance concerning objectives, requirements and divisions of responsibility in supply of food and medicinal products.
In its audit, the Swedish NAO made the assumption that the Government's governance should include explicit objectives, or formulations, on which the actors can base their work. These objectives/formulations should be clear enough to provide a sound basis for action. The governance should also be reasonably clear and consistent, in particular as regards the relation between different policy documents. Policy objectives or requirements should be formulated to enable follow-up. The assessment concerning divisions of responsibility assumes that there should be reasonable clarity concerning divisions of responsibility and what they entail. The division of responsibility should be clear enough to obviate the risk of responsibilities falling between two stools. The division of responsibility should also make it possible to demand accountability.
2 Insufficient data at coordination level
Risk of insufficient measures in time of crisis
Both the National Food Agency and the National Board of Health and Welfare have taken measures concerning matters of supply and emergency preparedness. They have reported on risks and formed interactive networks, in the case of the National Food Agency including actors from the business sector. To date they have taken various initiatives and published reports as well as implementing some major projects, which is positive. However, the way in which the supply of food and medicinal products takes place in a normal situation, in combination with the lack of national emergency reserves, assumes extensive knowledge of which goods exist at a given time, how they should be reallocated and how the continued inflow of new goods is to be guaranteed at times of crisis. Even though awareness raising activities have been conducted, the central government (through its coordinating agencies in the form of the National Board of Health and Welfare and the National Food Agency) does not have the aggregated information necessary to develop effective plans and preparations for the supply of food and medicinal products in times of crisis and heightened alert. The problems and need for action were identified several years ago, and the assessment of the Swedish NAO is that even though action has been taken, the responsible agencies have not taken sufficient measures. The agencies therefore need to continue to develop cooperation and collection of information to strengthen the conditions for planning and preparation. At the same time, it is difficult to evaluate the efforts of the agencies, since there are no clear objectives or expectations on the part of the Government.
The work of strengthening societal security has been going on for a long time in various forms and with different focuses. In recent years, however, there has been criticism of the focus and approach of national emergency preparedness. This includes deficiencies in emergency preparedness due to weaknesses in governance and problems in the interaction between legislation and principles of the system on the one hand and on the other hand the capacity and preparedness of central actors to perform their tasks. Furthermore, the work of security is more pertinent today due to a changed security situation and the renewed focus on civil defence that has accompanied the change.
Investigate whether the conditions exist, and the measures are taken, to contribute to robust public services. The audit focused on supply of food and medicinal products, which are two central, citizen-related public services with high relevance for life and health and for the functioning of society. The audit focus is on supply in the event of an emergency, but the question of heightened alert has also been taken into account. The audit is thus not concerned with supply or other circumstances in a normal situation.