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Grants for natural diversity and outdoor recreation lead to increased activity, but administration needs to improve

Even though grants for natural diversity and outdoor recreation generates increased activity and added value, it is a serious matter that grant administration does not sufficiently adhere to principles of good management. - The Ministry of the Environment must strengthen the quality of their case processing and obtain better result information in order to enable the Ministry to consider whether the grant schemes are targeted and effective, says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
Published 6/11/2013 10:20 AM

Document 3:13 (2012–2013) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of grants for natural diversity and outdoor life was submitted to the Storting, Norway’s parliament, on 11 June 2013.

The audit shows that funding generates significant activity and encourages enthusiasm for volunteer efforts. The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has examined grant schemes that e.g. award grants to organisations, clubs and associations following applications for funding for specific programmes. The audit covers grants for game and fishing programmes, grants for outdoor life programmes and grants for prioritised species and selected types of natural environments, all administered through the Directorate for Nature Management’s budget.

- We see that grants work. So it’s serious when the audit shows that grant scheme applicants are not given an answer by the given deadline. For grants for game purposes, almost 70 per cent of those who applied for grants from county governors or county authorities did not receive a reply until five weeks or more after the deadline. This means low predictability for applicants and can mean that programmes do not take place as planned, emphasises Kosmo.

Many rejections or partial grants are not explained. Of those who applied to county governors and county authorities for game grants in 2011 and were given less than they applied for, three out of four were not given a reason. Also, 44 per cent of those who applied for game grants and received a rejection or less money than they applied for, were not informed of their right to appeal.

Grants are one of several instruments for achieving the national objectives for natural diversity and outdoor recreation. Any given grant scheme may be geared towards several of these goals. The grant schemes in the audit totalled NOK 168 million in 2013, i.e. approx. 30 per cent of the total allocations for natural diversity and outdoor recreation.

- The Ministry has generally not reported how the grant schemes are contributing to goal attainment. Nor has the Ministry evaluated the schemes that have existed for a long time to assess how these schemes contribute to goal attainment. The Office of the Auditor General believes that the Ministry should obtain information about the grant schemes to investigate whether they are targeted and effective in their design, says Kosmo.

In his letter to the OAG the Minister of the Environment replies that he is pleased that the audit shows that the grant schemes are increasing activity and providing added value. The Minister takes the criticism of case processing and reporting seriously, and will follow this up with the new Directorate of the Environment.

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 3:13 (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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