The audit shows that several county departments in 1999 were far from reaching their goal of processing appeals pursuant to the Planning and Building Act and the Social Services Act within three months. Whereas 35.7 percent of the investigated appeals pursuant to the Planning and Building Act were processed within three months, 53.5 percent of appeals pursuant to the Social Services Act were processed within three months. Lengthy processing periods in a number of cases indicate that county departments are not sufficiently guaranteeing the individual citizen’s legal rights.
The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation shows that county departments’ lengthy processing periods are primarily due to the long time that passes from the time the departments receive the case until processing begins. The way appeal handling is organised also has a significant impact on processing time. Calculations performed by the Office of the Auditor General show that departments’ productivity in handling appeals varied. There is thus reason to assume that there is a potential for increasing efficiency in many of these departments.
There are relatively large differences among departments in respect of the outcome of appeals processing. In particular this applies to appeals regarding social services. Although the Office of the Auditor General did not examine the cause of the discrepancies, it is possible that such differences are due to dissimilar applications of the law by municipalities or county departments.
In its response, the Ministry of Labour and Government Administration agrees with the Office of the Auditor General that processing time in the areas examined is too long. The Ministry will follow up on county departments with the aim of reaching the target of a maximum of three months processing time.
This report is available at the Office of the Auditor General’s website - www.riksrevisjonen.no - or can be ordered from the University bookshop Akademia, tel. +47 22 11 67 70.