Government of Barrayar

The His Majesty's Government of the Empire of Barrayar is the central government of Barrayar and its planets. It consists of those Ministers responsible for the conduct of national affairs. Theoretically, ultimate power is held by the Emperor, and descends from him to the 60 Counts, who administer their Districts in his name: however, Government's primary legislation has to pass trough the Council of Counts, which is not merely a rubber stamp for the Emperor. Within Council of Counts most votes are settled by a simple majority, though certain extraordinary actions require a qualified majority.
The Government is led by the Emperor, who could appoint a Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and the Ministers belong to the supreme decision-making committee, known as the Council of Ministers, which serves as part of Barrayaran parliament.
Executive authority lies with the monarch, on the advice of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers. The Ministers advise the monarch and exercise power directly as leaders of the Ministries, but the Sovereign is not bound to follow advices.
The Government is dependent on Council of Counts to make primary legislation. The monarch selects the Prime Minister as the political leader most likely to command a majority in the Council of Counts.

Limits of Government power

Government's powers include general executive and statutory powers, delegated legislation, and powers of appointment and patronage; some powerful officials and bodies are legally more or less independent of the Government, and accountable only to the Crown. Government powers are legally limited to those strictly retained by the Emperor and to acts which are countersigned by the Emperor.

The Government and the Monarchy

The Barrayaran Emperor is the Head of State and takes a direct part in government. Some decisions to exercise sovereign powers are delegated from the Monarch to Ministers or other public bodies, although the Sovereign retains all power to withdraw the delegation. The Government has the Emperor as both chief executive and chief legislator. He's "advised" by the Council of Counts and the Council of Ministers.
Thus the major part of executive power is exercised by His Majesty's Government. The Government has the operational direction of the Armed Forces of the Crown, the Civil Service and other Crown Servants such as the Diplomatic and Secret Services, although the Emperor's rule is direct and effective.
Judicial power is vested in the Judiciary, who by constitutions and statutes have judicial independence of the Government. No public officers are elected.
According to custom and tradition, the Emperor has, in particular, the following powers:

  • The power to appoint and dismiss the Prime Minister
  • The power to appoint and dismiss other ministers.
  • The power to make war and peace
  • The power to ratify treaties
  • The power to command the Imperial Military Service of Barrayar.
  • The power to regulate the Civil Service
  • The power to issue passports
  • The power to create hereditary Counts.

Kissing hands

To kiss hands is the term used in Barrayaran Empire to refer to the formal installation of government ministers to their office. The office-holder is required to actually kiss the hands of the Sovereign as a symbol of personal fealty and loyalty to the Sovereign, that fealty and loyalty being a requirement to serve in the Emperor's government.

Working for the Emperor

Top officials report to Emperor Serg Vorbarra and follow his policies, but they have a significant autonomy and power. Officials are expected to "work for the Emperor", i.e. to take the initiative in promoting policies and actions in line with his wishes and the interests of the Monarchy and of Barrayar, without the Emperor strictly having to be involved in the day-to-day running of the country; this is the case when there is a Prime Minister, otherwise the Emperor is more deeply involved. Unless requested or opportune, Emperor Serg typically does not give written orders; instead he communicates them verbally, or has them conveyed through his close associates.

Prime Minister

The Prime Minister of the Empire is one of the political leaders of Barrayar and the Head of His Majesty's Government. The Prime Minister and Council of Ministers are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Emperor and (politically) to Council of Counts. The Prime Minister is the Emperor's executor, in that he sees to the execution and details of laws and governing. Due to the central role of the Emperor, the activities of the executive branch are significantly influenced by him: it is the Emperor who appoints and dismisses the Prime Minister and other members of the government; the Emperor may chair the meetings of the cabinet and give obligatory orders to the Prime Minister and other members of the government and the Emperor may also revoke any act of the government.
As the Head of His Majesty's Government, the Prime Minister is among the highest political authorities in Barrayar: he leads a major political party, generally commands a majority in the Council of Counts and is the leader of the Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister guides the law-making process with the goal of enacting his legislative agenda. He acts as the public "face" and legally the "Voice Ordinary" of Her Majesty's Government, both at home and abroad.The Prime Minister has weekly formal audiences with the Emperor, although theirs are daily meetings.
As "Voice", the Prime Minister is bestowed the hierarchical authority of the Emperor. This bestows authority is plenipotentiary, but applies only where the Prime Minister is carrying out his formal duties, and within his formal and substantial constraints, whereas the Imperial Auditors are bestowed of the broader "Voice Extraordinary".
Current Prime Minister is Prime Minister Lord Admiral Miles Vorlaisner.

Powers and constraints

When commissioned by the Emperor, a potential Prime Minister's first requisite is to "form a Government". The Prime Minister then formally kisses the hands of his Sovereign. The Prime Minister will propose all other ministers, without any formal Parliamentary control or process over these powers. At any time, he may propose to the Emperor the appointment, dismissal or nominal resignation of any other minister; he may resign, either purely personally or with his whole government. The Prime Minister co-ordinates the policies and activities of the Government departments, acting as the main public "face" of Government.
Although the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Service is legally the Emperor, under daily and ordinary routine the Prime Minister, with the Minister of War, holds power over the deployment and disposition of Barrayaran forces: nonetheless, the Chief of General Staff is largely autonomous and responsible directly to the Emperor.
The Prime Minister proposes the major part of the most senior Crown appointments, and many others are made by Ministers. Ambassadors, senior civil servants, senior military officers, members of important committees and commissions, and other officials are selected, and in most cases may be removed, by the Prime Minister.

Council of Ministers

In the Empire of Barrayar, a Minister is the person who seats in the Council of Ministers and in charge of a Government Ministry, usually with extremely long tenures in office. The Minister is a member of the Council of Ministers, and acts as an advisory against the Prime Minister and the Emperor and, on the other hand, is an organ placed in charge of a Ministry. In this role the Minister ensures the transmission of political address in the administrative policies. The Council of Ministers is under the direct presidency of the Sovereign or, in his absence, of the Prime Minister. Ministers may also require intervention at meetings of State senior officials of any kind.
The concept of Ministries tracks back to the unification of Barrayar. When the Emperors started amalgamating the Districts they needed a central body for legislation of planetary/imperial matters. So they established the various Ministries to help the Emperor control the whole. Some matters of jurisdiction are often left according to local custom, but matters involving the whole Imperium fell to the Ministry.
The Council of Ministers is one of two Councils that serve as Barrayar's parliament. Unlike the Council of Counts, it is appointed and not hereditary, although Counts could also serve as Ministers. The Council of Ministers has been created by Emperor Dorca the Just Vorbarra as part of his reforms to create a centralized monarchy at the expense of the District Counts. It is significantly smaller than the Council of Counts, since there are only, by law, 15 Ministers with voting rights: the Prime Minister in his own capacity as Prime Minister has voting rights as well as other Ministers, but he does not cumulate additional voting rights of the specific Ministry he may lead directly. In Joint Council sessions they have a vote equal to Counts.
The Council of Ministers deals in meeting any practice that requires an Emperor's measure (i.e. laws, decrees, licenses, or just tickets), or is the responsibility of several ministries. Meetings are held in the Star Chamber of Castle Vorhartung, while joint sessions are held in the Great Chamber, used also by the Counts. It is to emphasize that the Barrayaran government's top body has a dual role. As Ministers' college, it is as an official advisory council to the Emperor. In this way, the Emperor gets opinions and advice in upcoming decisions; however, each member wields significant influence in matters relating to their executive department. On the other hand, as a branch of legislative chamber, the Cabinet collectively decides the government's direction. The second role of Ministers is to administer their own Ministries. Some of the ministries are sometimes able to wield a lot of power - Emperor Ezar nearly tore the Empire apart to bring the Ministry of Political Eduction down. Ministers are the overall heads of their Ministries; each Minister can claim for himself any administrative proceedings under way in his Ministry unless it is carried by a specific independent agency (such as the police or the post). Ministers can issue verbal and written orders to his top officials, but only written orders to the agency chiefs. A particular situation is in the position of the Chief of Department of Public Security, who is de jure also the chief of the Imperial Police Force; he can be issued verbal orders only concerning the Department in general, while orders concerning only the Imperial Police Force are to be issued only in written form.
As a rule, and with the exception of some Ministries, on Sergyar and on Komarr there are Ministries subordinate to their counterpart on Barrayar. Ceremonial ministerial robes are black and purple, and are worn at ceremonies such as the Emperor's Birthday.
Ministerial posts with voting rights are:

  • Prime Minister of the Empire of Barrayar
    • State Planning Department: it is one of the most important governmental organizations; its principal tasks are to provide advice to the government on determination of economic, social and cultural goals of the state, and to design Five-Years Plans according to the goals set by the government.
  • Minister of War:in charge of the Barrayaran Imperial Service
    • Imperial Bureau of Veterans and Veterans Affairs
  • Minister of the West: in charge of the ministry that oversees Barrayar's South Continent, which is in the planet's western hemisphere. (Barrayar's North Continent, containing the bulk of the planet's population, is in the eastern hemisphere). As Barrayar entered interstellar affairs, the Minister of the West became a foreign ministry as well, sending Barrayaran ambassadors to foreign worlds. However this situation ended up to Komarran conquest: nowadays Minister of the West is in charge of both Southern Continent and Sergyar and Komarr. In addition, the Ministry controls government-owned lands and any other government property, especially farms and agricultural land and the government peasants that work the lands.
    • Imperial Representative on Komarr
    • Imperial Viceroy of Sergyar
  • Minister of Protection of Imperial Loyalty: in charge of Barrayar's general security and intelligence. It is intended to counterbalance the Imperial Security.
  • Minister of the Interior: it has jurisdiction over Barrayar's heavily populated North Continent, including functions such as police, education, and public health. For non-police and security functions, Barrayar's South Continent and the planets Komarr and Sergyar are under the Minister of the West and the Viceroys of Komarr and Sergyar instead of the Interior Ministry.
  • Minister of Agriculture: charged with promoting farming, fishing, animal husbandry, forestry, and ecology.
    • Imperial Bureau of Conservation
  • Minister for Economy and Heavy Industry: charged with promoting industries that manufactured advanced technology. Many advanced industries on Barrayar are state-owned rather than private businesses, though the Emperor may lease state businesses promoting advanced technology to favoured individuals, particularly Vor.
    • Imperial Bureau of Industrial Assessment: it is a department within the Ministry for Economy and Heavy Industry empowered to mediate industrial disputed factions.
    • Central Research Institute for National Economic Order and Large Area Economics: the primary government think tank and policy elaboration body.
  • Minister of Finance: charged with collecting taxes for the Emperor's government.
    • Imperial Customs
    • Imperial Financial Monitoring Service
    • Imperial Accounting Office: designed to monitor the fiscal health and responsibility of the Imperium. The Accounting Office works closely with the Imperial Auditors and often it provides them with support staffs, both permanently or on a temporary basis.
    • Imperial Institute of Statistics and Information
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Industry
    • Bureau for Foreign Interstellar Trade: devoted to managing off-Empire trade.
  • Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seal: he is responsible for the efficient functioning of the courts. He is also the head of the judiciary of all the Empire. The most delicate responsibilities is to act as the custodian of the Great Seal.
  • Minister of Colonization and Terraforming: is in charge of colonization and terraforming efforts, in conjunction with both Vor Districts and Ministry of the West.
  • Minister of Energy;
  • Minister of Culture, Science, Media and Sport;
    • Imperial Astro-Control Service;
    • Imperial Astrophysics Investigation Agency;
    • The Astronomical Committee: it is the agency responsible for naming and locating new spatial phenomena;
    • Imperial Gaming and Gambling Commission: is designed to regulate all gambling and gaming within the Empire and ensure all events are run fairly and that winnings are correctly distributed.
  • Minister of Welfare and Social Security: oversees and manages social security systems on Barrayar and supervises Komarran and Sergyaran systems;
    • Imperial Bureau for the Increase of the Population;
  • Minister of Public Works, Posts and Communications;
    • Merchant Navy
    • Imperial Postal Service
    • Imperial Monorail Services
    • Public Works Technology Assessment Directorate: it makes decisions regarding the technological requirements of major public projects, then requests bids of contractors and issues contracts.
    • Space Safety Board: concerned with starship safety and accident investigation.
    • Imperial Bureau of Ships and Services: the Imperial Bureau of Ships and Services is an agency responsible for assigning unique transponder codes to Barrayaran registered starships and tracking their movements through space. The Bureau fields several offices on all three planets. It also keeps track of astrographic and navigational information as well as data on lanes used in navigation computers.

It is to be underlined that the ministers are chosen by the Emperor, but they often they work their way up through the Imperial Public Service ranks. In such capacity, they merely are the top officials who are appointed - like the other officials - by the Emperor, choosing from a more or less restricted pool. This encourages very long tenures, although the Emperor is no way subject to the duty to chose ministers among senior bureaucrats.

Council assembled

Ceremonial robes for members of Council of Ministers.

The Council of Ministers is one of the organs that, until 3002, made up the parliament of Barrayar; nowadays is a collegial body consisting of the ministers meeting under the Emperor's presidency, who can be assisted by the Prime Minister. The Council of Ministers is an appointed group. As a result, if is possible for non-Vor to ascend to a Minister of State. Ministers actually run the Empire for the Emperor: they set policies, make the day-to-day decisions, and present their ideas, through the Prime Minister if present, to the Emperor. To be appointed as Minister of the Imperial Crown, a politician has to have a certain amount of backing to gain the tacit approval of the major parties or factions prior to his appointment by the Emperor. The Council of Ministers consists of the Prime Minister, appointed by the Emperor, taking account of the political majority in the Council of Counts, and of Ministers, appointed by the Emperor.
The Viceroys of Komarr and Sergyar are entitled to attend meetings of the Council of Ministers when it comes to issues concerning the interests of their respective planets. They have the right to vote and rank of minister. All members of the Council of Ministers, before taking office, shall take an oath to the Emperor.
As the primary body of executive power, the Council of Ministers has as main purpose the implementation of national policy. The instruments with which this is carried out are:

  • The legislative initiative: the Council of Ministers has the power to submit bills in the Council of Counts and in the Council of Little People.
  • The power to decree: the Council of Ministers can propose two different types of decrees: the Decree and Legislative Decree.
  • The power to make regulations: Ministers are the heads of the state administration. Both the Council of Ministers and individual ministers may issue regulations.

Inter-ministerial Committee

The Inter-ministerial Committees are collegial bodies of the Government of accessories made ??from more Ministers, which arose to address the needs of particular sectors of public administration involving the skills and assets of more Ministers and, therefore, require the coordination of the activity. There are two types of Inter-ministerial committees:

  • Inter-ministerial Advisory Committees: they provide external relief and opinions mandatory but non-binding, they do not have power to adopt acts with external effect;
  • Inter-ministerial Regulatory Committees, who have specific skills of active administration, including the issuance of administrative acts, permits, approvals and regulations.

Inter-ministerial Committee for Planetary Internal Affairs, Public Order and Security

The Inter-ministerial Committee for Public Order and Security (IC-PIA-POS) is the body responsible for the programming of the policy of the government of the territory and to protect the safety of Barrayar. The Committee is presided over by the Minister of Interior and is made on a permanent basis by the Minister of the Interior, the Minister for the West and the Minister of Protection of Imperial Loyalty. Some technical members outside the ministerial team may participate in its meetings, but they cannot express their opinion by voting. The Committee prepares the guidelines of the policy of imperial security and examines the general situation for the adoption of economic measures.
The secretariat of the Committee is formed within the Ministry of the Interior. The Secretariat is divided into three offices:

  • Central Office of the Secretary of the IC-PIA-POS;
  • Office for the regulation of the police and local government policies;
  • Office for the analysis and coordination of economic policy;
    • Technical Secretariat;
    • Project Finance Technical Unit.

Inter-ministerial Committee for Military Industrial Preparation

The Inter-ministerial Committee for Military Industrial Preparation (IC-MIP) serves as a central management body for the Barrayaran defence industry; its primary function was to facilitate plan fulfillment by easing bottlenecks, enforcing inter-ministerial cooperation, and overseeing the availability of resources. Its structure is based on the direct control of the ministries directly working for the defence, i.e. the War and the Interior Ministries; The Committee also coordinates the work of a dozen other ministries, whose responsibility is in some way connected to the needs of the Barrayaran defence. It also works closely with the Academy of Sciences, and with the Ministry of War, namely the Imperial Service, which has its direct representatives in the structures and in war factories.
Its management team, which includes bureaucrats, soldiers, scientists and big heavy industry manager, is one of the fundamental pieces of the elite of the Barrayaran Empire. The secretariat of the Committee is formed within the Ministry of War. The Secretariat is divided into five offices:

  • Central Office of the Secretary of the IC-MIP;
  • Central Committee for Industrial Mobilization;
  • Office for Direct Military Industrial Preparation;
  • Office for Collateral Military Industrial Preparation;
  • Office of Military Innovation Policies.


A Barrayaran Ministry is the primary governmental organisation, headed by a minister, that is meant to manage a specific sector of public administration. Ministries have a bureaucratic structure. The Government of Barrayar has a customary number of fifteen ministries. Ministries are the immediate subdivision of the Council of Ministers, and subordinate to the Emperor and, secondarily, to the Emperor's Prime Minister.
The Ministry exercises public functions, mainly administrative, in accordance with political address set by the government. Administrative functions assigned to the Ministry consist in the exercise of public authority and public authorities in providing public services. In addition to administrative duties, the Ministry may be vested with regulatory functions, especially concerning regulatory power; Also in legislation, ministerial offices have a considerable role in the development of legislative proposals. To perform its functions the Ministry has spending authority as part of the budget appropriations.
The Ministry is an complex office, articulated in a plurality of offices. Ministries are hierarchical organizations, headed by the Minister or by the Prime Minister.
The Ministers may be assisted by Assistant Ministers (political positions), and by one or more staff offices. Assistant Ministers may act as deputies and may be responsible for a part of the Ministry; Ministers may also be supported by strictly bureaucratic organs, such as a Secretary General. The Ministries may have a macro-structure of multi-purpose type (with Directorates-General as primary subdivisions and a Secretary-General as chief bureaucratic assistant to the Minister) or multidivisional type (with departments as primary subdivisions and usually without a chief bureaucratic officer). Within certain ministries may be organizations with some autonomy.
Often, in addition to the central offices, ministries have local offices, distributed on the territory and responsible for only part of it; these offices may have only preparatory and executive duties or exercising his functions under the direction and control of the central offices.

Ministry of War

Official emblem for corporations and economic undertakings under the control of the Ministry of War.

The Ministry of War is a ministry under the Council of Ministers, headed by the Minister of War. The MOW does not exercise direct command authority over the Imperial Service, which is instead subordinate to the General Staff and the Emperor. However, it is not unusual that the Chief of the General Staff and the Minister of War are the same person. The Ministry itself mainly serves as liaison body when dealing with foreign military in military exchange and cooperation, with secondary and support tasks for the Imperial Service. As interface with the political leadership, the Minister of War reports to the Council of Counts in a formal way the evolution of the strategic framework, military implications of the situation of alliances which Barrayar is involved in and the evolution of operational commitments with regard to the operational capacity of the Imperial Service.
Almost all leaders in Barrayar society are from military or Vor class, and share a militaristic set of values and outlooks. The ruling class strategic vision views Barrayar as threatened by wormhole blockage, and one of the prime motivations for the great development policy after the Cetagandan Wars was to strengthen Barrayar's economic and industrial foundations, so that a strong military could be built to defend Barrayar against outside powers which could block the vital wormhole.
Domestic issues also call for a strong military: Barrayar is continuously threatened by internal and rural peasant uprisings.
The initial Armed Forces Military Staffs and, later, the Imperial General Staff are equal to the Ministry of War in terms of authority: however, most times the Minister of War is a former (or even still in active duty) high-ranking officer, highly respected by his former colleagues still in active service and therefore able to command a great deal of influence.
The Armed Forces Military Staff offices were responsible for the planning and execution of military operations, and reported directly to the Emperor. As the Chiefs of the Armed Forces Military Staff and, later, Chiefs of Imperial General Staff are not cabinet ministers, they do not report to the Prime Minister, or to Council of Ministers, and are thus independent of any civilian oversight or control. However, during Aral Vorkosigan's Regency and Emperor Gregor's reign, budget allocations are in strict responsibility of Council of Counts, which therefore could control the military grand-policies. This is a fundamental rule, and Emperor Serg Vorbarra strictly enforces it.
The main, albeit unofficial, political function of both the Ministry and the Minister of War is the political representation of the military State-within-the-State. The Imperial Service is also influential in business, engaging in road, monorail and housing construction, consumer goods, resort management, and vast tracts of real estate. According to some researches, as much as 35% of the Barrayaran economy is controlled by or close related to the Barrayaran military. Empire-military interaction also occurs at lower levels, and it enables the Imperial Service to coordinate their activities with local authorities and draw on them for assistance. Commanders of military districts are usually members of the General Council of the Southern District which the district is located in. Other senior military officers sit on lower levels or city assemblies.
The Ministry of War has a strong role in the administrative and industrial: it takes care of the armaments policy, and, if necessary, its international cooperation programs, in order to achieve the pre-set efficiency targets. The budget and financial affairs, as well as non-military administrative inspections, are under the responsibility of the Ministry, as well as the military works and management of military property.
The Economic Development Department is the War Ministry organization responsible for managing the finances, supply systems and business projects for the Imperial Service. Its main remit is to expand the production and delivery large quantities of products cheaply and quickly to the market. The Department controls the entire product cycle either directly or through a complex network of shell companies set up as privately owned businesses. The main operational holding used by the Department is the "Stoneware Enterprises Holding - SEH": Through stock ownership SEH controls a wide variety of enterprises. The Economic Development Department is organized into a three Divisions:

  • Division "A": dedicated to the support of the Department-centred activities, as well as secretariat and personnel management duties. It is subdivided into five offices;
    • A1 - Budget office;
    • A2 - Financial matters;
    • A3 - Legal office: separated from the Imperial Service legal branch;
    • A4 - Auditors' office;
    • A5 Personnel office.
  • Division B: dedicated to infrastructures and facilities building and maintenance. It is subdivided into seven offices;
    • B1 General construction tasks.
    • B2 Special construction tasks.
    • B3 Special technical spheres.
    • B4 Special artistic spheres.
    • B5 Central inspectorate for constructions.
    • B6 Maintenance of building and business economy
    • B7 Raw materials, price control, foreign currencies, and purchases.
  • Division E: dedicated to the handling and management of the commercial holdings. It is subdivided into seven offices, each managing an market sector of the Stoneware Enterprises Holding.
    • E1 Stones and soil
    • E2 Food enterprises.
    • E3 Heavy Industry enterprises;
    • E4 Forestry;
    • E5 Utilization of textiles and leather.
    • E6 Books and pictures.
    • E7 Special tasks.

Crisis management

The natural operator of the crisis is the government. The emergence of a crisis situation determines the initiative and alerting the individual departments, responsible for protecting the interests threatened or endangered.
The organization of technical and operational support of the political leadership is composed of three major functional centres with specific expertise strictly delimited. The institutional actors defining the defence strategy are diverse, from general political figures down to those with more concrete and technical functions, along the whole political-military hierarchy. The most general guidelines are given by the Prime Minister who is the only one to have a general view of the activities of the various ministries and is the only one who can guarantee their coherence and coordination.

Strategic Political Committee

The Strategic Political Committee performs the tasks of coordination and decision-making lines of action. It consists of the Emperor, the Prime Minister, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, War, Protection Imperial Loyalty and Interior. Participation in the meetings is provided in an advisory capacity only to the Chief of the General Staff and the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Committee meets only during a state of crisis, replacing the Council of Ministers and acquiring the results of the pre-decision made ​​by the technical staff.

National Decision Making Centre

The National Decision Making Centre, is the seat of the support to Strategic Political Committee, in which concrete measures are substantiated in the choices made. The Decision Making Room, the Control Room and the Situation Room are modular elements of the Centre, in close liaison with their counterparts in the individual ministries and the Imperial Security. The concerted action radiates from the National Decision Making Centre in respect of the various areas of relevance.
Within the Centre, but outside the decision making structure, the Antiterrorism Strategic Studies Department is an unofficial and parallel intelligence and information agency which depends exclusively on the Prime Minister. Among the activities, there is even the research of terrorists refugees abroad. The Department actually consists of thugs and vigilantes and has among its central tasks both control and surveillance on private behaviour of political opponents.

Political Military Section

The Political Military Section is formed by the President of the Department of State (directly subordinate to the Prime Minister), representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, of Interior, of Protection of the Imperial Loyalty, of the General Staff and the Imperial Security as an element apart. The Political Military Section is a permanent body, also active in normal conditions, in order to prevent sudden escalations in a timely manner.
In a crisis it assists the Strategic Political Committee, in its capacity as auxiliary and advisory service.

Central Bank of Barrayar

The Central Bank of the Empire of Barrayar (CEBEB) is the central bank of the Empire of Barrayar. The Central Bank is an institution of public law and has the power to issue currency in the name and on behalf of the State. The legal form of the Central Bank is a public limited company, whose shares are held by the Empire of Barrayar. The shareholders are: the Emperor (51%), the Government of Barrayar (9%), the guild of Komarr (5%), the Viceroyalty of Sergyar (5%) and the Council of Counts (30%). Within the Council of Counts, shares are divided into equal parts: each Count owns 0.5% of the total. The Emperor, therefore, owns 51.5% of the total. Within the Government of Barrayar, a third of the quota is allocated to government-owned businesses (3% of the total).
The principal aim of the bank is to support economic growth. It is also responsible for issuing the national currency, the Imperial Mark, controlling the cash circulation, setting the Central Bank base rate, publishing official exchange rates and managing the national reserves of foreign currency and gold to influence exchange rates. The central bank implements the Government policy goals in inflation targeting, control of the money supply, or maintaining the fixed exchange rate. It also implements the Empire’s monetary policy. The CEBEB maintains a medium-term inflation target of around 3.5%. Upon binding indication of the Minister, the Commissioner in charge of regulating the money supply and decide on the discount rate.
The General Commissioner of the Central Bank of the Empire of Barrayar is appointed by the Emperor of Barrayar at the proposal of the Prime Minister for a term of 8 years. The most important decision-making body of the Central Bank is the Higher Monetary Commission. The building of the Central Bank of the Empire of Barrayar is located in Posplanov Square, in the Inner City of Vorbarr Sultana.
In order to prevent the excessive or unwilled growth of interest rates, the Central Bank has the obligation, since its establishment, to buy the bonds of the State that are unsold.

A matrix subdivision

At first sight, there are no "special" ministries and all ministers are to observe the general guidelines of the Prime Minister of the Empire, in order to guarantee an uniform policy making. This is not entirely true: ministries and other de facto first-level government agencies are subordinated to a two other spheres of authority.
The first and the most overt level is the division between "force ministries" and other ministries more inclined towards ordinary administration and economy. First ones are more directly subordinated to the Emperor and are the Ministry of Interior, controlling emergence services, police forces and Internal Troops, the Ministry of Protection of the Imperial Loyalty, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of War and the Ministry of Justice, with its correctional corps, as well as specific services and directorates, such as the Imperial Security. The "administrative" and "economic" ministries are more firmly under the Prime Minister's guidance. This arrangement was organized under the latter years of Emperor Gregor's reign, in order to provide his son-and-successor of a direct control of the fundamental agencies of the State.
Underneath this subdivision, also a fractionation more covert, yet not less deep and bitter, does exist: those within "Vorish" ministries and "Technocratic" ones. The "Vorish" feature is accompanied by a general view which emphasizes traditional values alongside a clear nostalgia for the aristocratic rule and is closely tied to a nostalgic lament for the perceived loss of a natural, idyllic order, contrasted to a mechanistic, technologically determined society, the latter embodied by the "technocratic" ministries and factions.

A rumoured faction: the Deep State of Barrayar

The "Deep State" is alleged to be a group of influential anti-democratic coalitions within the Barrayar political system, composed of senior and authoritative District Counts and business and high-level elements within the intelligence services, Imperial Service, security, judiciary, and mafia. For those who believe in its existence, the political agenda of the "Deep State" involves an allegiance to nationalism, corporatism, and State interests. According to those who support the thesis of the existence of the "Deep State", violence and other means of pressure have been employed in a largely covert manner to manipulate political and economic elites and ensure specific interests are met within the framework of the political landscape; theorists of the "Deep State" say that the outlook and behaviour of the predominantly military elites who constitute the deep state, and work to uphold national interests, are shaped by an entrenched belief that the country is always "on the brink". The alleged ideology of the alleged deep state is seen as being ultra-nationalist, secularist, anti-Komarran (although not in an unanimous way), anti-democratic and anti-liberal. The "Deep State" is not a structured alliance, but the sum of several groups that work behind the scenes, each in pursuit of its own agenda.
The "Deep State" is also seen as a type of domination based on the high military autonomy levels that enable the security apparatus to disrupt formal institutions by employing a repertoire of informal institutions (in the background), i.e. autocratic cliques, mafia, organized crime and corruption.
The relationship between this "Deep State" and the Emperor is also subject of debate. Progressive scholars argue (in the vaguest of terms) that the "Deep State" (if it exists) is the Emperor's hidden fang, ready to disrupt the unwilled path toward increasing representation and preconditions to democracy; other thinkers are in support of the opinion declaring that the "Deep State" is opposed to the Emperor, and other ones see the Prime Minister as the top of the allegedly existing Deep State. However, all political thinkers who believe in the existence of the "Deep State" agree in arguing that the political arena where the Deep State fights is in the between the Government of the Empire and the Council of Counts.

Intelligence and security policy

The Barrayaran intelligence and security agencies are the complex of Government agencies and bodies responsible for security and intelligence activities of Barrayar. While consisting of two major bodies, Barrayaran intelligence operates as a coordinated complex under the Governmental direction. The major departments are: the Political and Security Committee (the political supervision body), the Ministry of Protection of Imperial Loyalty (the civilian agency) and the Imperial Security (military intelligence and state security agency). From a general point of view, in the case of officially approved internal actions, prosecution for acts committed by agents of the services in the performance of their duties may be brought only after the prior approval of the Prime Minister.
The supporting idea is that police officers, customs officers, intelligence agencies and the Imperial Service, all share the same enemies: terrorists and the countries that support them, organized crime and drugs trafficking, corruption and mafia, the risk of urban riots of an immigrant ethnic nature and their implications for international politics. The Empire must guarantee both the survival of the institutional collectivity and the personal survival of each of its constitutive members, regardless of where they are. An attack which occurs thousands of light years away from the national space, but which involves Barrayaran citizens will be considered as an unacceptable threat to Barrayaran security. This approach privileges a transnational reasoning and holds that internal security always has an extraterritorial dimension and the opposition between internal and external security is a pretence.
The transnational approach is the privileged policy of Barrayaran policy makers and operators in the field of security: it opposes the internal approach, which assumes there to be a difference in nature between internal and external security, the activities of police forces and military activities. The transnational approach is aimed to build a preventive structure in a context where the immigration flows are permitted but strictly regulated, but is relatively unfit for periods of growing instability and puts in jeopardy the independence of national bodies from foreign actions.
If internal security extends beyond the national territory, it also extends beyond the usual activities of the police. The connections which are made between terrorism, drugs, crime, delinquency, border protection, fighting against major drug trafficking, and combating clandestine immigration enlarge the spectrum of public security towards other activities, such as information and military activities to fight against clandestine organisations coming from abroad who use political violence or use the national territory as a transit site or for sale of drugs; this enlarging scope of the public security activities also has an effect on the usual activities of custom officers (border controls on matters of public health or of hygiene, the fight against drug trafficking, economic intelligence) which are involved into internal security operations.
The official Barrayaran policy tends to privilege a transnational approach due to the traditional prudence and cautiousness (often labelled as paranoia) of the Barrayaran security apparatus, but the model adopted also includes several elements of the "internal" approach, also due to the relative easiness in controlling space borders with obligatory passages at the jump-points. This intermediate model of security policy imposes the cooperation between security agencies through the establishment of solid and effective networks, which also include networks of liaison officers that have been sent abroad to represent their governments and enable information exchange; however, the existing coordination structures are established mainly at the leadership level, and lower networks are established only in periods of particular crisis.
Each senior intelligence official at the end of the mandate as commander or director of a given body, branch or important office is normally promoted in other branches of government: the top officials are regularly appointed as chiefs of staff of the leaders of Viceroyalties, important districts or other territorial subdivisions, as well as main cities, thus exercising control over the bureaucracy of these departments and reducing their independence.
The intelligence/security organizational approach adopted by the Empire of Barrayar is rather customized according the Empire's own needs. While a polity with important ideological connotations usually adopt a tripartite model where foreign intelligence and state security is entrusted to the ideological branch of power (usually the ruling political party but also the clergy in a theocracy), internal/criminal intelligence is entrusted to the Ministry of Interior and the military/strategic intelligence is carried out by the military, polities with a generic or weak ideology usually establish an approach where the foreign intelligence is carried out by an agency separate from the State security and occasionally a military intelligence agency and a communication security agency are established as specialized bodies.
Barrayar collocates itself in a middle ground between ideological and non-ideological organizational patterns: the main agency is a military department (Imperial Security) loosely connected with the War Ministry and deals with both foreign and internal intelligence; the civilian body deals with State security and with the policy making, as it is a Ministry. Finally, there are two specialized intelligence/security bodies, the S.O.C.A. (although it has mainly law enforcement duties and in a tertiary position) and the complex made up of the Military Intelligence Service and the Service Security (the latter being tasked with military police duties).

Political and Security Committee

The Political and Security Committee is the overseeing body of the secret and security services of the Empire. Is established within the Council of Ministers.
The Committee has an advisory and decision-making functions about the services policy. The Committee is chaired by the Emperor, assisted by the Prime Minister, if present, who summons the Committee, and is composed on equal civilian-military basis:

  • Ministers of Foreign Affairs, of the Interior, of War and of Protection of Imperial Loyalty;
  • Heads and chiefs of Imperial Security, of Military Intelligence Service and of Service Security.

Because Imperial Security is in charge of overall coordinating activity, it has a prominent position. In order to avoid a "praetorian degeneration", exist other intelligence-related military bodies, such as the Military Intelligence Service and Service Security. Moreover, primary internal security and high policing function is vested by MoPIL, and external intelligence is performed by Military Intelligence Service: ImpSec acts as a trait-d'union and high profile security service. It is the Emperor's right hand, but without his civilian and military counterparts it would not be able to fulfil all security duties. The Political and Security Committee also has an its own Secretariat, in order to provide administrative and operational support: it is focused on translating foreign publications rather than gathering any substantial intelligence. It has a rather complex organization:

  • Director of Secretariat
    • General Affairs Division
    • Domestic Affairs Division
    • Interstellar Division
    • Economy Division
    • Information Integration Division

Ministry of Protection of Imperial Loyalty

The Ministry of Protection of Imperial Loyalty is the civilian and mainly domestic intelligence agency of Barrayar. Its headquarters are based at the Loyalty Building, Vorbarr Sultana. It is a separate structure from the Imperial Security, with 64 District offices. The MoPIL maintains resident agencies in the District capitals and on Komarr and Sergyar, as well as numerous clandestine basis. MoPIL mission is targeted to the defence of the Empire and its Institutions against whoever tries to threaten them, and from all subversion attempts and matters involving organized crime. The surveillance is focused on both internal and external threats related to political and ethnic loyalty to the empire, although the Ministry works mainly within Barrayaran borders, taking care of espionage. The Ministry displaces many officers at the military units, in order to report on any possible activities or feeling of treason among the ranks (especially the commanding officer).
The Ministry works in liaison and in competition with the Imperial Security, although it is more focused on vigilance against bureaucratic corruption.

Imperial Security

Imperial Security is formally a branch of the Barrayaran Imperial Service, devoted to protecting the Empire from threats within and without. Officers publicly assigned to Imperial Security wore silver departmental insignia in the shape of an Eye of Horus.
The Imperial Security is the military secret service designed to defend the security of the Empire from any threat, to meet the tasks of information, protection of secret and other defence activities; carrying the work also aims to prevent malicious war potential, working internally and abroad, taking care of the counter-intelligence activities. ImpSec deals with Electronic Intelligence and with human intelligence, especially raw intelligence reports from field agents and other sources.
The Imperial Security has access to the resources of the Service Security, with the right of requisition of resources towards the operational departments of the Imperial Service, if authorized by the Chief of the General Staff.
The acts performed by agents of ImpSec or by their employees in relation to foreign targets, even in the Empire, when carrying out their duties with operations prepared and approved by relevant government authorities, are not punishable if it can constitute criminal offences, if not at the request of the Government. The request is provided for the conduct of preliminary investigations.

Other national security organizations

Beyond security and intelligence agencies, such as ImpSec and MoPIL, there are also some organizations which are necessary in order to carry out security services in a polity where the rule of law is required. However, the rule of law is enforced only if the security of the Empire would not be affected. These organizations are:

  • Intelligence units and organizations within the Ministry of the Interior (mainly, but not only, the SOCA);
  • Military Intelligence Service and Service Security, within the Imperial Service;
  • Imperial Anti-Terrorism Prosecution;
  • Dedicated Imperial Courts: Terrorism Criminal Court, Terrorism Court of Assizes, Terrorism Appellate Court and Terrorism Appellate Court of Assizes.

Emergency security framework

The security framework is mainly designed to react to the rebellion for the Southern Continent but also serves for large uprisings in the Northern Continent. However, each Count has a duty to ensure a structure capable of supporting a domestic uprising. The entire Southern Continent is divided into a series of large wards, each of which comprises several districts; in each ward, a general manager is designated secretly, for a possible time of emergency. These structures entry into force automatically, when communications with Vorbarr Sultana are interrupted: at that time the general managers entry into action taking on the whole State powers the knowing exactly, according to a prearranged plan, what to do. In case of emergency moments of an alternative system of satellite and orbital communications is active, being secured by a number of military ships.
Not always the general manager is the most senior High Sheriff or the High Sheriff of the most important city: in some cases, he can be the Director of Public Security, the Military Commander of the Square or another man of strong energy and absolutely trustworthy.

Mass Organizations

The Empire of Barrayar maintains some mass organizations, whose membership is strongly encouraged, although not strictly mandatory. These organizations are instrumental to militarise the Barrayaran society, as well as those of Komarr and Sergyar, although to a lesser degree. Officially recognized and State-sponsored Imperial Mass Organizations are:

  • Imperial Junior Scouts
  • Association of Sport and Technology of Barrayar

The mass organizations are an integral part of society. They serve to integrate the individual into the social life of the Empire and are designed to support the unity of interests and deeds. The mass organizations are very much the stepchildren of the ruling ideology. They have been created from above to supervise and mobilize the public.

Imperial Public Service

Barrayar has a large Imperial Public Service, an highly organized bureaucracy mostly staffed and run by proles. The by far largest part of the day-to-day Imperial administration and regulation is carried out by the Imperial Public Service and by its top body, the Council of Ministers. With regard to the administration, the Council of Counts sets guidelines and administers the budgetary issues, while it is the main authority to enact proper laws.

Bureaucratic relationships

Withn the Barrayaran government there are several types of bureacratic/administrative relationship, varying between the administrative hierarchy to the services conference.
Ordinarily, Ministries and local governnment authorities are in a hierarchical relationship; the body in position of supremacy has a number of specific powers: the power to give orders and to subject to control the subordinate body, the power to revoke any inappropriate acts adopted by this, the power to delegate the exercise of functions and the power to withdraw his powers. The hierarchy is expressed also in the possibility of exercising real powers of substitution in the event of inaction of the subordinate organ. This relationship, in addition, is the principle according to assign responsibilities within the administrative organization and is characteristic of the traditional bureaucratic model.
In some cases, the preferred model is that of administrative guidance: this is the case of police services and of the military.

Bureaucratic ranks

The bureaucratic hierarchy includes the rank of Minister, which is considered the uppermost part of the bureaucratic hierarchy rather than a political appointment. It is to note that, since Ministers serve as bureaucratic top positions rather than political figures, their terms of service can be significantly longer than a political period.
The rank of Chancellor is the highest rank of civil service: only the most distinguished government officials are promoted to this grade, and it is customarily awarded to the Prime Minister, although this is not a strict and mandatory rule: the first Prime Minister to be awarded such a title was Aral Vorkosigan, who was promoted posthumously. When a Minister has distinguished himself, but not to the extent to be promoted to Chancellor, he is awarded with the title of First Minister of State: it is a purely honorific title, and has no specific powers or authority attached to it beyond that of any other Minister.

Equivalence between civilian and military ranks
Imperial Civil Service rank Imperial Military Service rank
Prime Minister of the Empire
Minister Chief of the Imperial General Staff
President of Department

Assistant Minister

Fourth level Admiral/General

in charge of a major department

Vice President of Department Fourth level Admiral/General

Deputy chief of a major department

Actual State Councillor Fourth level Admiral/General
State Councillor, 1st class Vice-Admiral/Lieutenant General
State Councillor, 2nd class Rear Admiral/Major General
State Councillor, 3rd class Commodore/Brigadier General
Senior Councillor Captain (Naval)/Colonel
Councillor Commander/Major
Chief Commissioner Lieutenant Commander/Ground Captain
Senior Commissioner Lieutenant
Commissioner Ensign
Specialist Warrant Officer 2/1
Chief Archivist Chief Petty Officer/Master Sergeant Major
First Archivist Petty Officer Ist Class/Sergeant Major
Archivist Petty Officer/Sergeant
Chief Clerk Leading Spaceman/Corporal
First Clerk Able Spaceman/Tech
Clerk Spaceman/Soldier

The administrative hierarchy is the legal relationship between a higher-level body and a subordinate body.
Actual State Councillors and higher ranks are usually created a Knight or Dame Commander of the Order of Dorca Vorbarra after ten or more years of service in the grade or on retirement if not already holding the title. The most senior officials, such as the President of the Department of State, may be created a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Dorca Vorbarra.
Among the relationships between a plurality of bodies, the hierarchy has the highest degree of intensity: the body in position of supremacy is recognized a number of specific powers, such as the power to give orders and be subject to the control of the subordinate body, to revoke the inappropriate acts may be adopted by this, to delegate the exercise of functions and to withdraw such powers. The hierarchy is expressed also in the ability to exercise real powers of substitution in the case of inertia organ subordinate. The administrative hierarchy acts, moreover, as principle of distribution of powers within the administrative organization, coordinated with the delegation of powers and functions. It is a typical feature of the ministerial bureaucracy. The hierarchy, finally, also finds application in the system of administrative protection: there is, in fact, the possibility of appeal to a higher authority hierarchical body that has adopted an administrative act. That action, possible precisely because of the position of supremacy, it is recognized to the recipient of the administrative act that is considered spoiled, which can request its annulment, both for reasons of legitimacy and merit. The tool of delegation is the basis for the whole public powers system within the Barrayaran State (i.e. excluding inherent District Counts' powers): the Emperor has absolute and full powers and delegates, through legislation and decrees, to the appropriate public bodies. In turn, chiefs of these bodies may delegate powers and functions attributed to them to subordinate bodies and people through their own decrees and/or regulations. This system is adopted also by District Counts, who have by law, custom and tradition the fullness of powers within their own Districts, with the exception of strictly Imperial functions which are not delegated to them. Therefore a Count in his own capacity has the full district powers (which may delegate however he deems) and delegated Imperial powers (which may delegate according Imperial guidelines). It is not uncommon that a District Count may serve as chief of an Imperial public body or agency, but in this latter case his conduct is regulated by Imperial provisions.
Men who have served their time in the military get preference for appointments to government service: the Imperial Public Service entry rank depends on the military rank reached in the military career. Usually a major part of the ministers are proles, and the Imperial Public Service is the traditional channel to rise to high positions for both Lower Vors and proles and plebs.
The Barrayaran bureaucracy is separated into 18 ranks; each grade is separated into 10 Grades. The vast majority of paid positions are paid according to the rank held.
The ranks from Clerk to Chief Archivist generally marks entry-level positions, while mid-level positions are in the Specialist-Chief Commissioner range. A new employee is normally employed in the first Grade of his assigned rank, although the employer has discretion to, as a recruiting incentive, authorize initial appointment at a higher Grade. Permanent employees below Grade 10 in their rank normally earn grade increases after serving a prescribed period of service in at least a satisfactory manner. The normal progression is one year per grade between Grades 1 to 4, then two years between Grades 4 to 7, and finally three years between steps 7 to 10. However, an employee can be rewarded for outstanding work performance via a "Award Grade Increase", which advances the employee one step within grade regardless of time at the previous step.
Depending on the agency and the work description, a position may provide for advancement within a "career ladder," meaning that an employee performing satisfactorily will advance between ranks, until he or she has reached the top rank available for that job, which represents full performance.

Imperial Administrative Consultative Conference

The Imperial Administrative Consultative Conference is a political advisory body in the Empire of Barrayar. The organization consists of former ministers and of all officials ranking Actual State Councillor, Vice-President of Department or President of Department of all government and State agencies and organizations, as well as external experts and other independent members appointed by the Emperor. Actually, membership of the Conference represents the summit of civilian non-Vor representative capacity and reach. The ranks of the Consultative Conference include several hundred individuals. The Conference includes nine committees:

  • Committee for Handling Proposals
  • Committee for Economic Plans
  • Committee of Population, Resources, Terraforming and Environment
  • Committee of Education, Science, Culture, Health and Sports
  • Committee for Social and Legal Affairs
  • Committee for Minorities Affairs
  • Committee of Historical Affairs
  • Committee of Local Governors

Grand Officers of the Empire

Into hierarchical organs and the offices of the state, there are officers who, because of the importance of his duties and to the elevation of the dignity to which they are invested, are commonly referred to as Grand Officers of the Empire. The officials included in the first four grades are of the dignity of Grand Officers of the Empire and enjoy the treatment of Excellence. The quality of Grand Officer of the Empire is firmly connected with the exercise of the offices and the offices both state and both of the court, or with the rank of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Dorcas Vorbarra and especially with the quality of Prime Minister.
The prerogatives granted to the quality of Grand Officer are essentially honorific and they give entitled to special considerations of protocol, in addition to the treatment of Excellence. The Grand Officers of the Empire also have a dispensation from the obligation to appear at the hearing in the event that the Grand Officers of the Empire should be heard as witnesses, instead of having the court, accompanied by the Registrar, access their home or another place they indicated, to receive the deposition. The same faculty is recognized to the Princes.

Bureaucratic culture

The average bureaucratic culture of Barrayar is impronted to the service and problem-solving. A bureaucrat would desire to help with others' problems if he was not dealing with a dozen other equally important matters at the same time. The average bureaucracy is swamped with too much work whose performance (and stress level) is clearly suffering for it. The employees are often overworked, underpaid, lack resources, and suffer the public’s anger. A typical clerk will constantly look frazzled and will usually be short tempered even after work.

Related voices