We aim to contribute to improving the management of pandemic crises. Our focus is on federal systems, as these are particularly powerful in dealing with environmental complexity. Through four waves of the pandemic, spanning a year and a half, we studied crisis management based on the case of the Swiss Federation. This research concentrates on three research questions: (1) How is the management of the Covid-19-Crisis organized in Switzerland? (2) How effective is this organization in coping with the dynamics of emergency? (3) What lessons can be learned for the design of a crisis management in the future? We apply the Viable System Model (VSM) as a framework for our study, elaborating a diagnosis and a design for the management of epidemic or pandemic crises. The VSM is a conceptual tool that is particularly strong for analysing federal systems. Hence, substantial insights have surfaced to orientate a future crisis management.