The Government serves as the executive power. Its most important functions are to submit bills and budget proposals to the Storting (Norwegian national assembly) and implement decisions through the Ministries. The Government is derived from the Storting and is headed by the Prime Minister. Formally speaking, it is the King who asks the majority party to form a government or a viable coalition.
Government decisions are formally taken by the King in Council (that is, jointly approved by the King and the Council of State) every Friday. All Royal Decrees must be signed by the King and countersigned by the Prime Minister.
Both formally and in real terms, the Norwegian Government, especially the Prime Minister, has less power than in many other Western countries. Traditionally, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Finance comprise the highest-status Government positions.
As the number of state tasks has grown, legislative power has increasingly been delegated from the Storting to the Government and often down the chain of command to the individual government ministries. Norway is characterized by a ministerial government, with a Minister serving as the political head of his or her Ministry. Closest to the Minister are the politically-appointed State Secretaries, akin to deputy ministers, and Political Advisors.
The Ministries are structured hierarchically, with a Secretary-General as the top-ranking administrative leader, followed successively by the Director General (ekspedisjonssjef) at a departmental level, the Assistant Director General (avdelingsdirektør) at a departmental or sectional level, Deputy Assistant Director General (underdirektør) at a sectional level, Head of Division (byråsjef) at a divisional level and a civil service comprising various grades of advisors, executive officers and clerical staff.