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The Office of the Auditor General’s Document No 1 (2010-2011): Weaknesses in performance of tasks, inadequate cooperation and serious weaknesses in the area of information security

The Office of the Auditor General points to weaknesses in the performance of tasks and inadequate cooperation in many important areas of society, among other things in the calculation and payment of benefits and pensions from the Labour and Welfare Administration. The audit also identifies serious weaknesses and shortcomings in the area of information security.  - This could threaten the due process protection of individuals and erode confidence in the protection of citizens’ rights, says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
Published 10/19/2010 12:30 AM

The Office of the Auditor General’s Document No 1 (2010-2011) was submitted to the Storting on 19 October. The document contains the Office of the Auditor General’s remarks on the ministries’ administration and implementation of their budgets for 2009.

The Office of the Auditor General sent 205 final audit letters without remarks for the accounting year 2009. Twenty-one entities received final audit letters containing serious remarks. - The audit for 2009 shows that the government administration in Norway is generally very good. However, there are still unsatisfactory areas, and there is always room for improvement, says Mr Kosmo.

Inadequate information flow and cooperation are general problems. Many ministries have overall responsibility for coordination and cooperation in their own areas or between different ministries. The audit points out several cases of inadequate management and coordination. - At best, this results in inefficiency, and at worst it can have major negative consequences for individuals, says Mr Kosmo.  - There is great potential for improvement here.

The Office of the Auditor General also uncovered great weaknesses in information security. Material deficiencies have been found in eleven ministries’ management of their subordinate agencies’ information security. Ten entities received remarks relating to material deficiencies in their information security. This increases the risk of unauthorised dissemination or changing of information and inadequate accessibility. The Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs has coordinating responsibility for ICT policy, and the audit points out shortcomings in the Ministry’s follow-up of this responsibility. - The fact that the Ministry's own agency, the Government Administration Services (DSS), does not have a satisfactory level of security gives cause for great concern, says Mr Kosmo. - DSS is responsible for running all ICT activities for 13 ministries.

Among other things, the audit for 2009 examined whether the Government's various packages of measures in connection with the turbulent financial situation have functioned as intended. The Office of the Auditor General’s control shows that the intentions behind these packages have mostly been met. - Given that such large allocations were made over a short period of time, we deemed the risk of non-conformities to be very high. Therefore, this is a very positive result, says Mr Kosmo.

This year too, the Office of the Auditor General pointed out breaches of the procurement regulations.  - We expect the ministries to continue to focus on this in relation to their subordinate agencies, says Mr Kosmo.

Certain areas of which the Office of the Auditor General is particularly critical:

The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration

The Office of the Auditor General cannot approve the agency's accounts for 2009 either. Errors and shortcomings were found in the calculation and payment of benefits and pensions. Weaknesses in internal control and in the agency's ICT systems are the main reasons for this. The audit uncovered particularly great challenges in the area of pensions, for which the agency introduced a new case processing system in December 2008. These errors can have grave consequences for the users' financial situation and subsistence.

The Tax Administration

The Tax Administration failed to meet its goal of increasing its control of complex and complicated cases while still maintaining the volume of controls. On the contrary, the audit shows a trend over several years away from heavier and towards more limited controls by the Tax Administration. Other findings include a lower hit percentage in the controls of accounts and statements and a reduction in the number of official complaints. The Tax Administration's reporting of data is still not sufficiently reliable. Reference is also made to the results of the performance audit that was submitted in August this year – Document 3:11 (2009–2010) – which pointed out that the Tax Administration’s control of tax returns and basic data has had low priority in recent years, and that the scope of controls varies greatly from one tax region to another.

The Armed Forces’ operational capability

The military exercise and training activity in large parts of the Army, the Home Guard’s reinforcement and follow-on forces and the Air Force is still less than the Armed Forces deem necessary for carrying out its assigned tasks and maintaining operational capability over time. The Office of the Auditor General is also critical of the operational status of the fighter plane forces and questions the force’s ability to carry out its tasks in future.

The Norwegian Armed Forces Medical Services

Extensive shortcomings have been uncovered in the internal control of the Norwegian Armed Forces Medical Services (FSAN), including serious breaches of the procurement regulations and an inadequate overview of equipment. This increases the risk of irregularities and could result in poor utilisation of resources. The Office of the Auditor General also points out that FSAN does not have enough medical personnel. This puts a great deal of extra strain on the organisation’s employees.

The Government Pension Fund – Global (GPFG)

The Ministry of Finance is criticised for inadequate follow-up of the Norwegian central bank, Norges Bank, as regards agreements with external managers. Among other things, the Office of the Auditor General is highly critical of the fact that Norges Bank signed a contract for profit-dependent external manager’s fees without a maximum limit. One manager received fees in the order of NOK 500 million following re-negotiation of the agreement. The original agreement would have meant a fee of approx. NOK 900 million. This is so large, both in terms of the amount and percentage, that the signed agreement must be deemed to warrant criticism.

The Directorate of the Police

The audit shows poor goal achievement by the police service for several of its main tasks relating to efficient prevention and solving of crime. In addition, weaknesses have been found over several years in internal control and administrative procedures, including the management of income and fines and handling of seized and found objects.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Office of the Auditor General points out that the anti-corruption work constitutes only a minor part of the dialogue with grant recipients in countries where there is a major risk of corruption. The auditors of aid projects do not report on corruption as they have been instructed to, and the lack of reporting is not followed up by the Ministry.

The document can be accessed through the link to the right. Public institutions can order the document from
Government Administration Services, tel. (+47) 22 24 20 00, publikasjonsbestilling@dss.dep.no.

Others can order the document from Fagbokforlaget, tel. (+47) 55 38 66 00, offpub@fagbokforlaget.no.

The deferral of public access to documents prepared by or for the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Document No 1 (12010), cf. the Act relating to the Office of the Auditor General section 18 second paragraph, is set aside from 19 October 2010 at 12.30.

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Phone: +47 22 24 10 00

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