Document no. 3:8 (2003–2004), The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of the central government’s procurement and the use of consulting services, was submitted to the Storting on 18 March 2004. In the investigation the Office of the Auditor General surveyed 74 central government agencies’ procurement and use of consulting services in 2002. All together, these agencies spent NOK 2.3 billion on consulting services that year.
The audit documented an extensive lack of contracts for government agencies’ procurements of consulting services. In all, 73 per cent of the agencies did not have a contract for at least one of their consulting procurements in 2002. The audit also revealed that very few government agencies had prepared written strategies for consulting procurements, and that the majority of agencies also lacked guidelines for procurements of this type. In the view of the Office of the Auditor General, it is therefore imperative for individual agencies to improve their practices for managing and following up the use of consultants.
In the investigation six agencies stated that in 2002 they split up procurements with contracts worth over NOK 200,000 in order to purchase the service directly from a single provider rather than soliciting tenders from several providers. Circumventing the regulations in this way is illicit and serves to reduce the competition for consulting engagements. The audit also shows that well over half of the agencies did not keep procurement records for all their purchases over NOK 200,000 as the regulations require.
The Ministry of Labour and Government Administration agrees with the Office of the Auditor General that the circumstances revealed may involve a risk that individual consulting procurements are poorly managed and followed up. The Office of the Auditor General take a positive view of the Ministry’s having taken several steps to ensure that the Public Procurement Act is more diligently followed. It is also encouraging that the Ministry of Labour and Government Administration will increase its information and guidance activities vis-à-vis government agencies in connection with the procurement of consulting services.
This report is available in Norwegian on the Office of the Auditor General’s website – www.riksrevisjonen.no - or may be ordered from the University bookshop Akademika, tel. +47 22 11 67 70.