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Variation in the adaptation of public services to user needs - Document no. 3:3 (2006-2007)

Government agencies have not done enough to adapt their services to the user. This results in user needs not always being adequately met, which in turn can have consequences for user satisfaction. The Auditor General, Jørgen Kosmo, suggests that the Ministry of Government Administration and Reform should play a more central role as the driving force and coordinator to ensure that government services are organised to meet user needs.
Published 2/6/2007 4:18 PM

The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of the adaptation of public services to user needs, Document no. 3:3 (2006-2007), was submitted to the Norwegian parliament (the Storting) on 9 January.

The objectives of the investigation of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) were to elucidate the results that have been attained concerning the Storting’s intentions that public services should be organised to accommodate user needs, and to survey the measures the authorities have implemented to achieve this goal.

The OAG is of the opinion that there are weaknesses in the manner in which the Ministry of Government Administration and Reform fulfils its role as the driving force and coordinator for the sector ministries in matters of administrative policy – particularly with regard to its responsibility for ensuring that government services are organised with the aim of satisfying user needs.

The ministry has not systematically gathered information about how measures to achieve this goal have been implemented in the various government agencies, and has to only a small extent promoted exchange of experience between the ministries. At the same time the investigation shows that there is great variation in how far government agencies have progressed in their efforts to adapt their services to users. If the Ministry of Government Administration and Reform were to play a more active role as the driving force and coordinator to achieve the administrative objective of adapting the services to user needs, this would be of great benefit to the ministries concerned.

A clear minority of the ministries have drawn up specific performance requirements for their subordinate agencies concerning adapting services to user needs. This may well mean that fewer of the agencies organise their services with the users in mind. In their management of subordinate agencies the ministries concerned should therefore make unambiguous demands regarding adapting services to user needs.

Only a few of the agencies that have conducted user surveys state that they have made significant use of these surveys to develop the services further. The OAG is of the view that government agencies should enhance the quality of their user surveys and put them to greater use in order to improve their results and services.

The OAG’s investigation also shows that government agencies have mainly utilised resources on general ICT measures to adapt their services to user needs. However, this investment has proved to be insufficient, and the agencies should utilise a wider range of instruments to ensure that user needs are satisfied.

The Ministry of Government Administration and Reform states that the report on the adaptation of public services to user needs will be useful in further efforts to accomplish reform and user adaptation. Among other factors, the ministry has noted the OAG’s opinion on the need for greater exchange of experience between the different government agencies.


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

The provision concerning delayed public access to documents that are compiled by or sent to the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Document no. 3:3 (2006-2007), cf. Section 18, paragraph 2 of the Auditor General Act, has been repealed.

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