Federal administration of Switzerland

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The federal administration of Switzerland (German: Bundesverwaltung, French: Administration fédérale, Italian: Amministrazione federale) is the ensemble of agencies that constitute, together with the Swiss Federal Council, the executive branch of the Swiss federal authorities. The administration is charged with executing federal law and preparing draft laws and policy for the Federal Council and the Federal Assembly.[1]

The administration consists of seven federal departments and the Federal Chancellery. The departments are roughly equivalent to the ministries of other states, but their scope is generally broader. Each department consists of several federal offices, which are headed by a director, and of other agencies. The much smaller Federal Chancellery, headed by the Federal Chancellor, operates as an eighth department in most respects.

Federal Council[edit]

The administration in its entirety is directed by the Swiss Federal Council,[2] and the Federal Council and the administration are subject to parliamentary oversight by the Federal Assembly. Each member of the Federal Council is also, in his or her individual capacity, the head of one of the seven departments.[2] The Federal Council has the sole authority to decide on the size and composition of the departments, and to make all executive decisions that are not delegated by law to an individual department, or to the Chancellery. The Council also decides which department its members are appointed to lead, although it is customary that Councillors choose their preferred department in order of seniority.

The absence of hierarchic leadership within the Council has caused the departments to acquire a very considerable autonomy, to the extent that the federal executive has been characterised as "seven co-existing departmental governments."[2]

Size[edit]

From 1954 to 1990, roughly two percent of Switzerland's resident population were federal employees. This percentage has since declined due to army cutbacks and the partial privatisation of federal enterprises such as PTT (now Swisscom and Swiss Post).[3] As of 2008, the Confederation employed some 102,000 people, all but 32,000 of which were working for federal enterprises such as the Post and the Swiss Federal Railways.[3]

Development[edit]

After the founding of the Swiss federal state in 1848, the Federal Council and its handful of officials took up residence in the Erlacherhof in Berne.[3] The entire administrative staff consisted of 80 persons in 1849, while the postal service had 2,591 officials and the customs service 409.[3] The first dedicated administrative building, now the western wing of the Bundeshaus, was completed in 1857.[3]

The number of departments and Federal Councillors has been constitutionally fixed at seven since 1848.[4] The number of the departments' subordinate entities, which are constituted by statute – generally as "federal offices" after the 1910s – has grown substantially in step with the expanding role of the state in the 20th century, even though some have been merged or abolished.[4]

A 1964 government reform made the Federal Chancellery into the general staff unit of the Federal Council, and created General Secretariats as departmental staff units.[5] A 1978 statute granted the title of secretary of state to the holders of two (later three) directoral posts whose functions require independent interaction with foreign authorities.[6] Since the 1990s, New Public Management models have been experimentally introduced; twelve offices are now run with autonomous budgets.[1]

Location[edit]

Governmental and administrative offices are located in the east and west wings of the Bundeshaus, to either side of the central Parliament Building.

The seat of the federal authorities, including almost all of the administration, is Berne. The departments and offices are located in the east and west wings of the Bundeshaus and in numerous buildings in or close to the city center. In the 1990s, some offices were moved to other parts of the country, in part to aid economic development of these regions.[3] Also, some federal authorities have field offices in other cities.

Organisation and responsibilities[edit]

Federal Chancellery[edit]

The Swiss Federal Chancellery is the staff organisation of the Federal Council and the federal administration. As of 2009, it is headed by Federal Chancellor Corina Casanova (CVP/PDC). It is composed of a several sectors, the Federal Chancellery sector headed directly by the incumbent Chancellor, while the other two sectors are led by the Vice-Chancellors, the Federal Council sector by Thomas Helbling, and the information and communications sector by André Simonazzi.[7]

For administrative purposes, the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) is affiliated to the Chancellery. The Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner is responsible for the supervision of federal authorities and private bodies with respect to data protection and freedom of information legislation.

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs[edit]

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is Switzerland's ministry of foreign affairs. As of 2008, it is headed by Micheline Calmy-Rey (SP/PS). It is composed of the General Secretariat and of the State Secretariat, which in turn is composed of the following directorates and agencies:[8]

Federal Department of Home Affairs[edit]

The Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) is Switzerland's ministry of the Interior. As of 2009, it is headed by Didier Burkhalter (FDP/PRD). It is composed of the following offices:[9]

The following independent authorities are affiliated to the FDHA for administrative purposes:

Federal Department of Justice and Police[edit]

The Federal Department of Justice and Police is Switzerland's ministry of justice. As of 2010, it is headed by Simonetta Sommaruga (SP/PS). It is composed of the following offices and institutes:[10]

The following independent authorities are affiliated to the FDJP for administrative purposes:

Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports[edit]

The Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports (DDPS) is Switzerland's ministry of defence. As of 2009, is headed by Ueli Maurer (SVP/UDC). It is composed of the following departmental sectors:[11]

The following services are also part of the DDPS:

Federal Department of Finance[edit]

The Federal Department of Finance is Switzerland's ministry of finance. As of 2010, it is headed by Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf (BDP/PBD). It is composed of the following offices:[12]


The following independent authorities are affiliated to the FDF for administrative purposes:

  • Swiss Federal Audit Office (SFAO): The federal government audit office. Examines accounting practices and verifies the proper and efficient use of resources by the administration, other public service institutions and subsidy recipients.
  • Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA): Regulates banks, insurances, securities dealers, investment funds and stock exchanges, as well as the disclosure of shareholding interests, public takeover bids and mortgage lenders.
  • Federal Pension Fund (PUBLICA): Provides insurance coverage to employees of the federal administration, the other branches of the federal government and associated organisations.

Federal Department of Economic Affairs[edit]

The Federal Department of Economic Affairs (FDEA) is Switzerland's ministry of the economy. As of 2010, it is headed by Johann Schneider-Ammann (FDP.The Liberals). It is composed of the following offices:[13]

The following independent authorities are affiliated to the FDEA for administrative purposes:

Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications[edit]

As of 2010, the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) is headed by Doris Leuthard (CVP/PDC). It is composed of the following offices:[14]

The following independent authorities are affiliated to the DETEC for administrative purposes:

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Raimund E. Germann: Tasks of the Federal Administration in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland, 2006-09-25.
  2. ^ a b c Raimund E. Germann: Non-hierarchical government in the Federal Administration in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland, 2006-09-25.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Raimund E. Germann: Beginnings and Growth of the Federal Administration in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland, 2006-09-25.
  4. ^ a b Raimund E. Germann: Departments and Federal Offices of the Federal Administration in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland, 2006-09-25.
  5. ^ Raimund E. Germann: Federal Chancellery and Staff Units in the Federal Administration in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland, 2006-09-25.
  6. ^ Raimund E. Germann: Group Formation and Secretaries of State in the Federal Administration in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland, 2006-09-25.
  7. ^ "Organisation of the Federal Chancellery". Federal Chancellery. Retrieved May 2008. 
  8. ^ "Organization chart". Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved May 2008. 
  9. ^ "Federal offices and competence domains". Federal Department of Home Affairs. Retrieved May 2008. 
  10. ^ "Organization Chart FDJP". Federal Department of Justice and Police. Retrieved May 2008. 
  11. ^ "Organisation". Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports. Retrieved May 2008. 
  12. ^ "Organisation chart". Federal Department of Finance. Retrieved May 2008. 
  13. ^ "Organisation of the FDEA". Federal Department of Economic Affairs. Retrieved May 2008. 
  14. ^ "The aims of the Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy, and Communications (DETEC)". Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications. Retrieved May 2008. 

See also[edit]