These are the main conclusions given in Document no. 3:8 (2005–2006) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of effectiveness in Oslopakke 2 – the government programme for public transport that was submitted to the Storting on 6 June 2006.
In the mid 1990s the Storting decided to expedite the development of public transport in Oslo and Akershus – an action plan subsequently referred to as the Oslopakke 2 programme – basing its decision on the general goals of increasing the proportion of public transport users and ensuring sustainable means of transport. The decision was followed by higher road toll rates and the introduction of an extraordinary fare for users of public transport. The objective of the OAG’s investigation was to shed light on the extent to which the organisation and management of the Oslopakke 2 programme have paved the way for attaining the goal of increasing the proportion of public transport users in the capital city area.
The investigation shows that the main objectives of the programme have not been given high priority in the work performed in Oslopakke 2. The objectives are reflected to only a small extent in the planning, implementation and follow-up of the programme. The OAG emphasises that more systematic efforts to specify and create agreement on the main objectives may have made the programme management more targeted.
Many participants from different levels of government administration are collaborating on implementing the programme. The investigation shows that these efforts are to some extent characterised by opposing interests and that no requirements have been set regarding a binding cooperation between the parties involved. Deficient coordination is hindering the efficient, effective and uniform use of policy instruments. The OAG questions whether the Ministry of Transport and Communications has taken sufficient initiative to improve this coordination, and has noted that the ministry will assess this issue in the Oslopakke 3 programme in close cooperation with local authorities.
The extra fare that was introduced for public transport users (amounting to NOK .75) was to be used for purchasing extra materials, thus forming the basis for a wider range of public transport services. A special agreement was formed concerning extra fares for users. However, this does not contain any goals concerning the amount of materials that are to be procured, and the extent to which it has been followed by the various parties has varied.
Substantial budget overruns have been accrued in the development of the metro ring system in Oslo. The Ministry of Transport and Communications is responsible for ensuring that the cost estimates are realistic – a responsibility that also applies for the planned public transport system to the former airport area (Fornebu). The OAG underlines the importance of the ministry ensuring the best possible decision-making basis and drawing up realistic cost estimates for this project.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications’ comments
The Ministry of Transport and Communications concurs with the OAG’s observation that coordination and a unified approach in transport policy represent challenges that could possibly be resolved in a better manner in several areas. The ministry points out that another substantial challenge is to persuade the various levels of administration to work together within their respective areas rather than centering their attention on their own areas of responsibility and their own interests. The ministry emphasises that it must not exercise management in a way that can be perceived as – or that implies – overruling the responsibility of local authorities.
The document in Norwegian can be downloaded from the this website or ordered from Akademika booksellers, tel. +47 22 18 81 00.
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. 3:8 has been repealed, cf. Section 18, paragraph 2 of the Auditor General Act.