The findings of the audit indicate that the university and colleges sector does not make sufficient effort to improve the efficiency of its purchasing activities. The Office of the Auditor General underlines that considerable changes will have to be instituted to rectify the weaknesses that have been revealed.
The university and colleges sector purchases goods and services for considerable sums of money each year. In 1998, purchases in this sector totalled NOK 2.1 billion, which constitutes approximately 25 % of the total annual operating expenses for the sector.
The audit demonstrated that 74 % of the audited agencies had not defined targets for their purchasing functions, and that 31 % of the audited agencies did not take advantage of the competition in the market in connection with their three largest purchase items: electrical power, travel agency services and journals. Moreover, the agencies did not have adequate guidelines and routines for their purchasing activities, and the use of framework agreements varied considerably. Small colleges did not make sufficient use of the joint purchasing scheme as a means to achieve better prices. The auditees that had focused on their purchasing activities were also found to have achieved the greatest savings.
In connection with the audit, the Ministry of Education, Research and Church Affairs stated that it agreed that too little importance is attached to enhancing the efficiency of purchasing activities in this sector. The Ministry intends to discuss the findings of the Office of the Auditor General’s analysis with the institutions concerned in the annual sector management meetings and will consider implementing measures to rectify the weaknesses revealed in the audit.
The Office of the Auditor General regards it as positive that the Ministry is reacting to the findings of the audit by introducing measures to ensure more efficient purchasing functions and thus contributing to ensuring optimum use of the resources available in sector.
The Report is available in Norwegian on the Office of the Auditor General’s website – www.riksrevisjonen.no – or can be ordered from the University bookshop Akademika, tel. +47 22 11 67 70.
The Report will be closed on Monday 6 November at 12 noon.