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The Office of the Auditor General’s Document No 1 (2011-2012): Inadequate documentation and internal control

Inadequate documentation makes it difficult to verify transactions. Several agencies do not have satisfactory internal control. Error rates in connection with the administration of pensions and benefits are unacceptably high, and there are great variations in the administration of grant schemes.
Published 11/22/2011 12:30 PM

These are some of the findings of the Office of the Auditor General’s audit report on the Central Government Financial Statements for 2010. - The general impression is that the government administration attends to its societal responsibilities in a satisfactory manner, but the inadequacies mentioned in the report show that there is room for further improvement, says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.

Inadequate documentation and verifiability
This year, the Office of the Auditor General again reports that inadequate documentation has resulted in transactions being impossible to verify in retrospect. - For example, there are still procurements where the procurement processes are not adhered to and documented in accordance with the applicable regulations. This increases the risk of irregularities, says Mr Kosmo.

Weak internal control
The Office of the Auditor General points to several cases of unsatisfactory internal control. This weakens the administration’s ability to uncover actions that are in violation of applicable regulations and its ability to prevent irregularities. - To ensure goal attainment, the agencies are required to establish a system for internal control where assessing, handling and following up risk are key elements, says the Auditor General.

Pension and welfare schemes
The error rates in connection with pension and welfare schemes are still high. - Different pension schemes and welfare benefits are the main source of income for many of the country’s inhabitants. Errors affect individuals, says Mr Kosmo.

Variations in grant administration
The OAG has remarks on grant administration in nine out of the thirteen ministries controlled. - Inadequate criteria for goal attainment and poor follow-up entail a risk that the grants will not be used in accordance with the intentions of the Storting, says the Auditor General.

Areas of which the Office of the Auditor General is particularly critical:
Information security in the ministries
The Office of the Auditor General takes a serious view of the fact that Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs has failed to ensure that the infrastructure used by the ministries is adequately secured. The Government Administration Services still have material deficiencies in the information security area.

Pensions and benefits in the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV)
The Office of the Auditor General is critical of the variable quality of the administration of pensions and benefits and of the fact that, despite many years of critical remarks, this still results in significant payment errors. The audit shows that there are errors in 7.5 per cent of the sickness benefit cases controlled, and that there are great differences between the counties as regards the quality of case processing. The Office of the Auditor General takes a serious view of the fact that there is still doubt as to whether the pensions of a substantial number of pensioners are correctly calculated and paid. As regards benefits paid to recipients abroad, the audit shows that there are errors in more than half of the disability pension cases checked and in about 40 per cent of the retirement pension cases.

The County Social Welfare Boards' processing times in child welfare cases
The Office of the Auditor General is critical of the fact that the processing times of the County Social Welfare Boards exceed the Child Welfare Act's target of four weeks in almost 90 per cent of cases. The Office of the Auditor General has remarked on case processing times since 2008 and it takes a very serious view of the fact that there has been no improvement in this area during the period.

The Norwegian National Rail Administration's bridges
The Office of the Auditor General takes a serious view of the fact that the Norwegian National Rail Administration lacks condition reports and inspection data for the maintenance of 40 per cent of the total of 2,789 railway bridges.

The National Police Directorate and staffing
In the Office of the Auditor General's view, there is an imbalance between registered incidents at weekends and the number of police officers on duty. The Office of the Auditor General is critical of whether overtime work is managed in an efficient manner, and it notes that supplements paid under the new working hours provisions are seen as a general pay increase. The Office of the Auditor General is also critical of the fact that there is no clear strategy for achieving the staffing targets for the police service.

Aid to Afghanistan
The audit shows weaknesses and inadequacies in the management, follow-up and control of aid funds to Afghanistan. The Office of the Auditor General understands that the implementation of an adequate administrative regime is a demanding task in Afghanistan. The Office of the Auditor General nonetheless believes that the follow-up mechanisms that have been established are not sufficient to ensure that Norwegian funds are used as intended.

The document can be downloaded via the link on the right.

The deferral of public access to documents prepared by or for the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Document No 1 (2011-2012), cf. the Act relating to the Office of the Auditor General section 18 second paragraph, is hereby set aside.

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