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The processing time for debt settlement cases is too long - Document no. 3:5 (2005–2006)

A report from the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) shows that the amount of time used to process debt settlement cases is still not within the prevailing deadlines for the area. Deficient procedures, inadequate information and varied expertise continue to affect the processing time. The OAG has done a follow-up of a report from 1997 on the administration of the Debt Settlement Act.
Published 1/24/2006 3:21 PM

Document no. 3:5 (2005–2006) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of the administration of the Debt Settlement Act – follow-up of Document no. 3:13 (1996–97) – was submitted to the Storting on January 19, 2006.

The Debt Settlement Act is intended to give persons with serious debt problems an opportunity to regain control of their financial affairs. The purpose of the OAG’s investigation was to assess whether the enforcement authorities handle debt settlement cases within the deadlines stated in legislation and internal regulations, and whether reports are submitted accordingly.

The investigation consisted in part of a review of 170 debt settlement cases at 14 enforcement offices and shows that there has been a reduction in the processing time from the previous investigation. However, even though the processing time has been reduced, the amount of time taken prior to opening or rejecting such cases is still greater than the goal of 90 days set by the Ministry of Justice and the Police.

Key information that has been compiled on the Debt Settlement Act is inadequate and outdated. The investigation shows that 10 out of 14 enforcement offices do not have written administrative procedures for processing debt settlement cases. At seven of the offices there is only one executive officer who works on this type of case and has the appropriate knowledge. This makes access to resources for these offices particularly vulnerable – for example in the event of sick leave or changes in staff.

This investigation reveals that little has been done since the previous investigation to improve the reporting routines that ensure that the cases are processed within the deadlines set. The Ministry of Justice and the Police has stated that a new administrative tool will be implemented during 2006, one effect of which will be the provision of better statistics.

The document (in Norwegian) can be downloaded from this website or ordered from Akademika booksellers, tel. +47 22 11 67 70.

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. 3:5 has been repealed, cf. Section 28, paragraph 2 of the Auditor General Act.

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