Policy Capacity: The Icelandic Public Administration


  • Pétur Berg Matthíasson




Policy making; policy capacity; strategy and planning; competence.


Following the 2008 financial crisis, concerns arose regarding the adequacy of policy making and strategic planning preceding the crisis. Both the Parliamentary Investigation Committee (2010) and the study of Joined-up Government (2010) highlighted the need to enhance policy capacity within ministries. A project was launched to evaluate the effectiveness and capacity of ministries in formulating policies and strategic plans as part of a larger initiative to reform the central public administration. This article endeavours to assess policy capacity within the Government Offices (ministries) using a framework developed by Wu, Ramesh, and Howlett (2015). The assessment draws on data from surveys conducted by the Policy Council over a 6-year period, spanning from 2015 to 2021, focusing on policy making and strategic planning. Specifically, questions aligning closely with Wu and colleagues’ model were selected, covering aspects such as analytical skills, stakeholder collaboration, political support, budget allocation, and inter-institutional coordination. The findings suggest there is a certain level of policy capacity, specifically analytical capacity within the Government Offices. However, there are challenges concerning implementation aspects. Wu et al.’s model can serve as a valuable tool for evaluating policy capacity. Yet, the model presents several limitations, hampering efforts to provide a comprehensive assessment of policy capacity across ministries. 

Author Biography

Pétur Berg Matthíasson

Political and public administrative scientist.



How to Cite

Matthíasson, P. B. (2024). Policy Capacity: The Icelandic Public Administration. Icelandic Review of Politics & Administration, 20(1), 1–24. https://doi.org/10.13177/irpa.a.2024.20.1.1



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