Document No 3:16 (2008–2009) The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into the operation and maintenance of the road network was submitted to the Storting on 24 September 2009.
Since the reorganisation of the Public Roads Administration in 2003, operation of the road network has largely been subject to competitive tendering through contracts with private contractors (function contracts). In 2008, the total turnover under the function contracts amounted to NOK 2.1 billion.
The investigation shows that there are several deficiencies in connection with the operation of roads. Among other things, the requirements for driving conditions during winter are not adequately satisfied. This results in the quality of large parts of the road network not being good enough to ensure that motorists can enjoy good and safe driving conditions all year.
The investigation shows that reporting is inadequate in terms of providing reliable information about the condition of the road network. The Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Public Roads Administration therefore have an insufficient basis on which to assess whether operation of the road network is in accordance with the stipulated standards and priorities. For many function contracts, moreover, the level of control on the part of the Public Roads Administration is low. ‘The Public Roads Administration must follow up the work done by the contractors in order to ensure that is of the correct quality,’ says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
The investigation also shows that competition for the function contracts is weak. The market is dominated by a few contractors, and, in the case of several contracts, only one or two contractors have submitted tenders. ‘The Ministry of Transport and Communications must follow this up in order to ensure that systematic efforts are made to stimulate competition in the contractor market,’ says Mr Kosmo.
In its response, the Ministry of Transport and Communications states that the report raises important issues relating to operation and maintenance. The Ministry will give careful consideration to how reporting and follow-up can be improved. The Ministry also points out that a forthcoming evaluation of competitive tendering for operation and maintenance tasks may provide a better basis on which to further develop and improve the function contracts.
The document can be downloaded in Norwegian from this website, or it can be ordered from Akademika bookshop, tel. + 47 800 80 960 /+47 22 18 81 00.
The deferral of public access to documents prepared by or for the Office of the Auditor General in connections with Doc. no 3:16 (2008-2009), cf. the Act relating to the Office of the Auditor General section 18 second paragraph, is hereby set aside.