The Norwegian Armed Forces have, since 1996, initiated several projects aimed at introducing joint IT-based administrative systems. These projects have failed to meet their objectives, and the systems have not been commissioned as intended. One result is needlessly costs.
The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into the efficiency of planning and management of joint administrative systems in the Norwegian Armed Forces (Document no. 3:7 (2002-2003)), which was submitted to the Storting on 11 April, deals with Program Golf and its precursors.
The investigation shows that old projects have been terminated and revived in new projects and the scope of the projects has been reassessed and altered along the way. These changes in strategy have brought about delays, needless costs, and the failure to reach objectives. By the end of the first half of 2002, before new systems had been fully developed and commissioned, NOK 268 million had been spent on project costs. The precursors to Program Golf have largely been failures and their costs not commensurate with any benefits derived.
Due to these delays, the Armed Forces failed to meet the extended deadline for compliance with the financial management regulations’ criteria before the end of 2002. Full compliance may not occur until 3-4 years after this deadline, at the earliest. This means that for several years to come the Armed Forces will lack key tools with which to reach the objectives of more efficient control and better effectiveness and performance. The Office of the Auditor General finds it unsatisfactory that suboptimal solutions are being employed in a period when the Armed Forces are restructuring and need to make massive savings.
Several projects have been concluded short of achieving their aims because the introduction of joint solutions has been controversial and the overall control of the projects has been weak. According to the Ministry of Defence, Program Golf is now strongly anchored within the leadership, both at the Ministry and in the Armed Forces.
The Ministry of Defence has issued several reservations regarding further progress and completion of Golf, stressing that so far only the first delivery project has been implemented. This means that there is uncertainty as to whether the program can be completed by the end of 2005. Also the estimates of costs and benefits are very uncertain. A continuation of Program Golf is one prerequisite if the Armed Forces are to fully meet the requirements of the financial management regulations. The Office of the Auditor General stresses the importance of preparing a comprehensive schedule of costs and progress in order to come into compliance with these requirements.
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.