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Many municipalities have weak management and oversight of services that are important to users

Over half of municipal councils do not receive reporting about the quality of services in important areas. - There is a need for greater awareness of the responsibility municipal councils have for management and oversight of the quality of services, says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
Published 2/19/2013 12:35 PM

Document 3:7 (2012-2013) The Office of the Auditor General's investigation of municipalities' management and oversight of services with national objectives was submitted to the Storting on 19 February 2013.

The size of the municipality and state sector management affect the extent to which municipal councils receive reporting about the quality of services. Municipal councils receive less reporting about the quality of home care services and water and sewerage service than they receive about the compulsory school system, an area in which the state has set requirements for reporting to the municipal council.

- When municipalities have been given responsibility for important services, it is essential that the municipal council receive sufficient information about the quality of these services. On the basis of local needs, municipalities must choose how detailed the reports on the services are to be, says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.

Inadequate management information can cause the municipal council not to have a sufficient basis to make necessary changes and priorities. This increases the risk of the provision of poor services to residents and that the services do not have the quality the Storting has adopted in key areas.

The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development has obtained very little information or issued instructions on the use of statutory management documents - including annual budgets and annual reports - in the municipalities. These documents are intended to ensure relevant information about the objectives and results of a municipality's activities. The Ministry should implement measures that can help ensure that municipal councils are given necessary management information in key areas. The Ministry should particularly adapt measures to the needs and challenges of small and medium-sized municipalities.

The Minister agrees with the OAG that many administration managers have weak internal controls concerning the quality of services and that municipalities make little use of the potential inherent in a performance audit to exercise oversight of the quality of services. The Minister claims that a lack of reporting to the municipal council does not automatically provide a basis for a conclusion of deficient governance and oversight or poor provision of services. The OAG believes that it is necessary that the municipal council, regardless of how it chooses to govern, receives sufficient information about the state of local services to discharge its responsibilities. The provision of sufficient information to the municipal council is necessary for the sake of local democracy, overriding national interests and to utilise resources optimally.

You can download the document through the link to the right.

Public institutions can order the document from the Government Administration Services, tel. (+47) 22 24 20 00, publikasjonsbestilling@dss.dep.no. Others can order it from Fagbokforlaget AS, 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 3:7 (2012-2013), cf. the Act relating to the Office of the Auditor General section 18 second paragraph, is hereby set aside.

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