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Inadequate result orientation in Norway’s long-term development cooperation

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ administration of long-term development cooperation is characterised by weaknesses in the planning and follow-up of the assistance, and by limited anti-corruption efforts. This entails a risk of inadequate goal attainment. - Even though the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has developed and implemented important measures in its administration of development cooperation, there is still clear room for improvement in bilateral assistance and Norway’s follow-up of the UN, says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
Published 1/13/2011 12:25 PM
Document 3:4 (2010-2011) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into result orientation in Norwegian development cooperation was submitted to the Storting on 13 January 2011.

The Storting has long expressed an expectation that Norway should have greater focus on results in its development cooperation. In 2010, Norway’s development cooperation totalled NOK 27.4 billion, which is an increase of approx. 52 per cent from 2005 to 2010.

The OAG’s investigation covers the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ work on bilateral development cooperation. It has looked into the administration of seven important development cooperation initiatives in the fields of health and education in Nepal and Tanzania. The investigation into multilateral development cooperation covers Norway’s participation on the boards of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has introduced revised guidelines for the administration of development cooperation. The ministry has also strengthened its efforts to combat corruption, among other things by establishing a central control unit and a reporting channel. These measures have strengthened the basis for improved goal attainment in development cooperation.

The investigation into bilateral development cooperation nonetheless shows weaknesses in the ministry's planning, follow-up and prevention of corruption. The ministry’s evaluations of whether the development cooperation measures meet fundamental quality requirements are inadequate, which increases the risk of poor goal attainment. This applies, for instance, to evaluations of the quality of performance indicators and anti-corruption measures. In addition, the ministry’s follow-up of performance is inadequate, which reduces the possibility of improving goal attainment on an ongoing basis.

The investigation into multilateral development cooperation shows that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' efforts to improve the UN's performance monitoring is not given sufficient priority. Norway’s work on the boards of UN organisations shows a varying degree of follow-up of the organisations' performance reporting and supervisory functions. In addition, Norway’s follow-up is poorly documented. Inadequate documentation weakens the possibility of carrying out targeted, long-term follow-up of the organisations, which is reinforced by frequent changes of personnel in the ministry. - It is unfortunate that the Ministry of Foreign affairs does not use its position on the boards to improve knowledge about the results of development cooperation and to contribute to making the UN more efficient, says Mr Kosmo.

Corruption is widespread in Norway’s partner countries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has worked actively to develop measures for uncovering and handling corruption in development cooperation. However, the investigation shows that the ministry’s evaluation of anti-corruption measures in bilateral development cooperation is inadequate, and that Norway's follow-up of anti-corruption work in UN funds and programmes is limited. - It is positive that the ministry will continue to work to strengthen its efforts to combat corruption, Mr Kosmo concludes.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs agrees that there is a need for improvement in the ministry's administration and will use the investigation to tackle the challenges.

The document can be downloaded via the link on the right. Public institutions can order the document from Government Administration Services, tel. (+47) 22 24 20 00, publikasjonsbestilling@dss.dep.no. Others can order the document from Fagbokforlaget, tel. (+47) 55 38 66 00, offpub@fagbokforlaget.no.

The deferral of public access to documents prepared by or for the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Document No 3:4 (2010-2011), cf. the Act relating to the Office of the Auditor General section 18 second paragraph, is hereby set aside.

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