Federal Council improves crisis management structures

Bern, 29.03.2023 - The Federal Council aims to be better prepared for crisis situations and have more efficient mechanisms in place for dealing with them. At its meeting on 29 March, it decided, based on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, to strengthen the organisation of the Federal Administration so it is better equipped for future crises. In the event of complex crises, the Federal Council will be able to deploy crisis units at both a strategic and operational level. The Federal Council remains the supreme governing authority. In addition, a Standing Core Unit will provide crisis management support to the departmental staff offices. The Federal Council has tasked the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport DDPS and the Federal Chancellery FCh with drawing up core legislation on the new crisis management structure by the end of 2023.

Reviews conducted by the Federal Chancellery, the Conference of Cantonal Governments and the parliamentary control committees on crisis management during the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that there is potential for improvement. In its report on improved crisis organisation in the Federal Administration, the Federal Council has responded to the review findings and to postulates 21.3205 ‘Role of the Federal Civil Protection Crisis Management Board CCMB in the COVID-19 pandemic’, 21.3449 ‘Strategic Crisis Management’ and 22.3343 ‘Ensure the Federal Council’s Institutional Crisis Resilience’.

Crisis management with three pillars

The Federal Council is of the opinion that no fundamental change needs to be made to the ordinary structures and processes in the Federal Administration. However, going forward, crisis management units are to receive greater methodological and administrative support from a permanent unit set up for this purpose. This Standing Core Unit will comprise staff from the DDPS, other federal departments and the Federal Chancellery, and so promote interdepartmental crisis management. It will foster continuity, greater uniformity in federal crisis management and better knowledge retention between crisis events. It will include other relevant players and will be required to provide regular situation reports.

In future, the Federal Council can call on the Policy and Strategic Crisis Management Unit in order to manage complex crises. Headed by the lead department dealing with the crisis in question, this unit’s task will be to draw up policy proposals for the Federal Council and to coordinate crisis management on an interdepartmental basis, involving all relevant actors. The unit will comprise the secretaries general of the departments concerned, the two vice chancellors, the Federal Finance Administration, the Federal Office of Justice and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. The federal chancellor and external bodies may also be involved.

If required, the lead department can also form an Operational Crisis Management Unit to ensure coordination between all administrative units and prepare all information required by the Policy and Strategic Crisis Management Unit.

The details of these three pillars of crisis management and the way in which they cooperate with each other and with external partners will be refined going forward. To this end, the Federal Council has instructed the DDPS, in conjunction with the FCh and with the involvement of the departments, to define the composition, services, processes and resources of the Standing Core Unit for its consideration by the end of 2023. A new crisis management ordinance is also to be drawn up by the end of the year to replace the previous statutory basis.

Involvement of the cantons and scientific community

The cantons and the scientific community, as well as other relevant actors if the situation requires, will be involved in the work of the Policy and Strategic Crisis Management Unit and the Operational Crisis Management Unit. The lead department, aided by the Standing Core Unit, will be responsible for deciding on their composition, the exact details of which will be decided in the given situation.

Improved crisis anticipation

A stronger link between federal risk management, early crisis detection, continuous situational and environment analysis and analyses from the departments will improve early warning in a crisis. With improved crisis anticipation, the Federal Council will be in a position to deploy cross-departmental crisis organisation in good time.

Address for enquiries

Ursula Eggenberger, Head of Communications FCh
ursula.eggenberger@bk.admin.ch, Tel. 058 462 37 63

Lorenz Frischknecht, Deputy Chief Comm DDPS / DDPS Spokesperson
lorenz.frischknecht@gs-vbs.admin.ch, Tel. 058 484 26 17


The Federal Council

Federal Chancellery

Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports