Comparative Table of Parliamentary TA Institutions
SWEDEN - THE PARLIAMENTARY EVALUATION AND RESEARCH
In 2006, the Riksdag – the
Swedish Parliament –
adopted new guidelines concerning the work of the committees on
future issues. The guidelines imply, among other things, that
assessments will be included more often in committee reports.
TAs are performed with the aim
of providing the
committees with an evaluation of the consequences of research findings
and the introduction
of new technology concerning both opportunities and risks. The overall
to provide the Parliament with high-quality background material which
used in debates, committee reports and for evidence-based decisions.
From 2007, the committees have
been able to
submit proposals and requests to the Parliamentary Evaluation and
(PER), which can assist in conducting technology assessments (TAs)
different areas. The unit, situated at the Committee services division,
on behalf of the committees of the Riksdag. Sweden has thus adopted the
unit model« which means that the parliament has its own office for TA
ORGANISATION AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Technology assessments often
concern more than one committee. The Riksdag´s work with issues
relating to the future therefore, wherever possible, is carried out at
a cross-committee level. The committees are to cooperate in initiating
joint technology assessments. The committees´ proposals and requests
are submitted to the PER, which can assist in conducting the analyses.
This will promote a coordinated management of issues relating to the
future. The committees are encouraged to cooperate actively and to
inform each other and spread examples of best practices, for example,
at chairmen´s conferences and meetings of committee secretaries.
The PER works on the behalf of the committees and has thus not
the mandate to initiate large projects of its own. Within the framework
of a proposal the unit can, however, propose focal points and methods.
Two full-time scientists are employed at the unit and external experts
can be hired for scientific support and for writing background
material. The unit also has one person who is mainly responsible for
organising workshops, seminars etc. In addition, two temporary staff
members, one via a fellowship-scheme and the other via an internship,
work at the unit.
In most cases, an all-party steering group is assigned to
provide guidelines for a TA assignment and to ensure that they are
carried out in accordance with the Committee´s terms of reference. A
contact person from the Committee secretariat is assigned to assist at
the meetings with the reference group. A group of experts is also
assigned to scrutinise the content of the reports.
Committees submit their proposals to the PER
and as a first step, other committees, relevant to the subject, can be
contacted in order to verify their interest in cooperating in the
project. A first draft with suggestions of focal points and methods is
written, often after discussion with experts in the field. The draft is
presented at a committee meeting and the decision to commission the
study is taken. Following this, a parliamentary reference group with
Members of Parliament from all parties (in most cases) is formalised.
If several committees participate, the reference group will be composed
of MPs representing the committees involved. At a first meeting with
the reference group, the focal points and methods are discussed and
WORK PROCEDURES AND METHODS
Generally, the TA projects start
at the beginning of the year and the report is finalised and released
at the end of the year in connection with the budget debate. A seminar
is often held initially with different experts in order to involve MPs
and to present the state of the art in the field. The presentations and
discussions are summarised and communicated to the MPs via the intranet
of the Parliament.
External experts are, whenever necessary, engaged to write
background material. An expert group is also formed with the task of
scrutinising the report with regard to its content and to ensure the
balance of different aspects. The expert group will also help to
formulate the conclusions of the study.
The parliamentary reference group discusses the final report
and the concluding remarks. In most cases, a public hearing is held at
the Riksdag when the report has been printed in order to both discuss
the content of the report and to supplement the content with other
aspects. The seminar is webcast and broadcast on television. These
seminars are also open to the public.
Most of the TA projects, so far, have been expert-based but
trials with public involvement have been carried out. Social media have
also been used in order to involve the public.
Some of the assignments from the committees have been inventory studies
in different scientific areas and these can be used in order to:
- Present the state of the art in a specific field
- List active researchers and research environments - this
can be useful for the committees in forthcoming seminars and hearings
- Serve as inspiration for future TAs
The topics have covered different subjects since 2007,
many of which have a bearing on the environment and sustainable
development. Recent assignments have focused mainly on health issues.
- Sustainable cities
– focusing on transport,
housing and green areas
- Young people´s visions of an urban future: In order to
the views of young citizens on urban futures, participatory scenario
planning and visioning seminars were conducted with three high schools.
- Antibiotic resistance
- Future Day 2012: MPs have the opportunity to discuss
future issues and their implications for society with a number of
leading researchers and experts invited. Three interdisciplinary
seminars will be organised in which panels consisting of MPs from three
to four committees prepare questions for the speakers
- Nanotechnology and health
The committees are the main target group for the PER. Reports and
seminars are planned in collaboration with committee groups in order to
formulate the assignments in accordance with the needs of the
committees. Some committees have been very active since 2007 and over
time a broader range of committees have in one way or the other been
involved in TA activities. As described above, TA projects can be
performed at a cross-committee level. Involving more than one committee
has two main advantages: the results of the assignment are spread to a
wider group of MPs and the involvement of a cross-committee reference
group implies that the subject is treated in a wider context.
Even if committees are the main target group, reports are
disseminated to a wider audience such as the government, authorities,
universities, and NGOs etc. Seminars are also broadcast on television.
Trials using social media have been carried out in order to invite the
public to discuss specific issues within an ongoing project.
COMMUNICATION AND PUBLICATIONS
The reports are published in the Riksdag Report Series and can be
downloaded from the website (www.riksdagen.se).
Short versions with conclusions of the larger reports are compiled in
Swedish and English. A website has been published on the Riksdag
intranet summarising the work on research and future issues. The
website will also shortly be available on the official Riksdag website www.riksdagen.se.
TA - reports are often cited in committee reports and in chamber
debates but can also be used in other forums such as the government,
local authorities etc. Most of the committee seminars are webcast and
broadcast on television.
THE WAY AHEAD
The work with technology assessments is still
relatively new at the Swedish Parliament. The general trend is that a
broader range of committees are showing interest in TA activities.
Recent developments are the trials with public involvement, social
media and the publication of short policy briefs. Policy briefs have
recently been published on nanotechnology and health and antibiotic
Evaluation and Research Secretariat at
the Swedish Parliament
100 12 Stockholm
Senior Research Officer, PhD
+46 8 786 57 92
© EPTA, provided by ITA; version 19 Oct 2012