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The OAG’s remarks on the ministries’ administration and implementation of the state budget for 2005

The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has detected weaknesses in the ministries’ management and follow-up of results. There are still a number of violations regarding the regulations for public procurement, and ICT security has not been adequately safeguarded. Material weaknesses have been detected in the administration of the state’s interests in companies under the Ministry of Health and Care Services.
Published 11/22/2006 12:00 PM

These are some of the main conclusions in the OAG’s Document no. 1 (2006-2007) that was submitted to the Storting on 22 November. The document contains the OAG's remarks concerning the ministries’ administration and implementation of the state budget, as well as the cabinet ministers’ administration of state interests in companies for the 2005 budget period. Material weaknesses were detected in the accounts of 23 enterprises.

In several cases weaknesses in the ministries’ management and follow-up of results have entailed that the intentions of the Storting have not been sufficiently complied with. The Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion has only to a limited degree reached the goals set for occupational rehabilitation. Weaknesses in the budget routines and budget management of the Ministry of Children and Equality continue. The results achieved by the Ministry of Health and Care Services are unsatisfactory, particularly in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry and in the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse. Remarks to the accounts of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, the Norwegian National Rail Administration and the Civil Aviation Authority – Norway reveal that the Ministry of Transport and Communications’ overall management and control of these enterprises have not been satisfactory.

The number of violations regarding regulations for public procurement continues. This applies to violations of basic principles such as competition, equal treatment and verifiability, and may consequently result in undesirable social impacts and an increased risk of irregularities. The Directorate of Fisheries has made purchases exceeding NOK 55 million in connection with a new ventilation plant without conducting competitive tendering.

There are also serious deficiencies in the procurement practice of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, the Norwegian National Rail Administration and the military organisation of the Norwegian Armed Forces.

The OAG takes a serious view of the fact that there are weaknesses in several ministries concerning ICT security in large systems that handle substantial amounts of data and sensitive personal information. Inadequate security and control may lead to violations of the Act relating to the processing of personal data as well as to errors in data processing. This again may lead to misuse of systems and information. The National Insurance Administration has weaknesses in securing systems and data in its mainframe environment, and cases of unauthorised access to data systems at the Government Agency for Financial Management have occurred.

Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo states that several of the matters to which attention is drawn entail a considerable risk that public funds are not used in line with the intentions of the Storting. Regrettably it appears there is still a long way to go to achieve compliance with the regulations for public procurement intended to ensure equal treatment of bidders in the market, and to provide assurance that irregularities and corruption do not occur. The weaknesses of many ICT systems that handle large quantities of data constitute another important area of focus for the OAG. This is a serious threat to data security in subordinate agencies and to the individual user, and the OAG’s attention will continue to be directed towards this area. Mr Kosmo adds that criticism is warranted of the inadequate follow-up of several findings that the OAG has highlighted previously.

Areas at which the OAG levels strong criticism


The Cancer Registry of Norway

The OAG has pointed to matters at the Cancer Registry of Norway and the Cancer Registry Fund that are regarded as extremely serious. Criticism is expressed of the fact that the requirements for management, control and legal competence have not been adequately safeguarded and that resources belonging to the Cancer Registry have been transferred to the Cancer Registry Fund. This monetary transfer from the Cancer Registry to the Fund exposes the Cancer Registry’s budget and accounts to a considerable risk of manipulation.

The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs

Systems and routines for internal management in the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs remain inadequate. The agency has not built up a satisfactory cooperation with the municipalities to enable sound home-based services to be established, although this was an important objective in setting up this agency. The proportion of emergency placements in relation to the number of institutional placements has increased, although the goal set was intended to achieve the opposite. In addition, there is a continued failure to comply with regulations on procurement when purchasing protected placements for children.

EuroSleep

EuroSleep, which runs private clinics in premises at the state-owned hospitals in Voss and Stensby, has not been approved as a hospital. Consequently doubt may arise as to who is responsible for the patients. Moreover, the group of patients with sleep disorders appears to be given greater priority than other more needy patient groups. Contracts have also been entered into without competitive tendering.

The Ministry of Education and Research
The universities and university colleges do not make full use of state allocations as intended by the Storting. A total of NOK 2.3 billion has been reserved in unused appropriations. The OAG is of the opinion that governing bodies must assume greater responsibility for ensuring that institutions implement their budgets in accordance with the intentions of the appropriation.

The Central Norway Regional Health Authority
The management and financial situation in the Central Norway Regional Health Authority appears to be out of control. There is an increasing deficit in the region, financial leasing agreements have not been revoked as anticipated, and the management of the regional health enterprises appears to follow up the ministry’s requirements and management signals to only a limited degree.

The Directorate of the Police
The OAG has a large number of critical remarks concerning the Directorate of the Police, which is the largest enterprise in the justice system. This applies to ICT administration, to various weaknesses in the revenue area, to erroneous invoicing of privately paid overtime, to the use of two different financial systems in the same enterprise with limited interface, and – according to the OAG’s assessment – to weak project management in the Politiet på nett project (Police Online).

The Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion – contractual pension scheme
Supervision, control and management of the contractual pension scheme are deficient. Criticism is expressed of the fact that the ministry was aware that the joint scheme for contractual pensions agreed by the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise was underfinanced by over NOK 1.5 billion, but it still did not put any remedial measures into effect.

The document can be downloaded from this website ordered from Akademika booksellers, tel. +47 22 18 81 23.

The provision concerning delayed public access to official documents related to the State Accounts for 2005 has been repealed from 22 November 2006.

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