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The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation of whether government measures are being implemented satisfactorily

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Summary

Background and objectives of the audit

Decisions made by the Storting and the Government on the basis of insufficient grounds for a decision may lead to not reaching intended goals, and measures having unanticipated consequences for affected parties. A significant condition of ensuring sufficient grounds for making a decision is that satisfactory objective and problem analyses are conducted, that alternative measures are considered, and that consequences are satisfactorily assessed before specific measures are passed.

The objective of the audit was to shed light on whether government measures are sufficiently studied, and possible causes of insufficiencies. The audit is based on information from an in-depth investigation of five government measures, a review of 44 regulations, and data from investigations the administration itself has undertaken.

Findings

  • Consequences are not sufficiently described and quantified.
  • Socio-economic analyses are rarely conducted.
  • Alternative policy instruments have little visibility in decision-making documents.
  • Support and guidance for assessment work performed by the specialist ministries is insufficiently targeted.

The organisation of the assessment work in the ministry community does not ensure satisfactory quality of the assessments.

The Office of the Auditor General’s recommendations

Support and guidance for the assessment work performed by the specialist ministries should be more targeted so that the administration has the expertise necessary to conduct satisfactory consequence analyses. Among other things, there is a need for increased knowledge of quantification of consequences and socio-economic analyses.

The Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs should ensure

  • that regulations and guidance material are made clearer, so that it is clearer which requirements are relevant to the content and scope of socio-economic analyses
  • that course and advisory activities more adequately cover the administration’s needs for expertise within consequence analyses

The responsibility of the specialist ministries to conduct satisfactory assessments of measures should be made clearer. The intention is to avoid many measures collectively putting unintentional and undesired strain on municipalities, business and industry and private individuals.

Alternative ways of improving supervision of assessments should also be considered, to ensure that assessment work is of sufficiently high quality.

Ministry/ministries:

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Riksrevisjonen, Storgata 16, P.O. Box 8130 Dep, 0032 Oslo, Norway

Phone: +47 22 24 10 00

Org.nr: 974 760 843