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The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into efficient utilisation of resources by the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV)

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Summary

Background and goal of the investigation

The purpose of the audit was to investigate whether NAV has established efficient resource utilisation in its administration of benefits in the counties, and to identify organisational and management-related reasons for why the utilisation of resources varies between counties.

It is presumed that the production of labour and welfare services will take place in the most efficient manner possible. An efficient labour and welfare administration must ensure that the services provided are produced without unnecessary use of resources. One goal of establishing the specialised administrative units in NAV's benefits administration was to improve the quality of decisions and the provision of services while reducing case processing times, as well as ensuring better information and equal treatment.

Method

The investigation is based on a productivity analysis of NAV's administration of benefits, interviews and document analyses of case folders and governing documents. Information was also obtained about the agency's use of resources, case processing statistics, sickness absence and user satisfaction.

Results

The investigation shows that, during the period 2007 to 2010, NAV was allocated greater resources without the number of unprocessed cases and case processing times being reduced to any great extent. The investigation also shows that there is a considerable potential for improving productivity and for ensuring a correct prioritisation of resources.

There are significant differences in the counties' overall staffing levels in NAV offices and administrative units. The investigation shows that there are unreasonably large differences between the administrative units' staffing levels measured per head of population. The administrative unit with the highest staffing level has 50 per cent more full-time equivalents per head of population than the administrative unit with the lowest staffing level. The resources should be reallocated between units in order to improve goal attainment.

The analyses show that there are considerable differences between the counties as regards productivity. The investigation shows that production per full-time equivalent in the most productive county is 47 per cent higher than in the least productive county. Calculations show that the agency could have performed the same amount of tasks using almost 300 fewer full-time equivalents if the productivity of all the administrative units in NAV had corresponded to the average productivity in the five most productive counties. As a rule, counties with higher productivity in their administrative units have lower backlog levels, shorter case processing times and more satisfied users than counties whose administrative units are less productive. The ministry and the directorate should use criteria for productivity in their management of the agency and they should also establish a better knowledge base for managing the agency's total resources in the best possible manner.

The investigation shows that the differences in productivity between the counties are related to internal factors within the individual counties, and that good handling of management-related matters is a precondition for high productivity and goal attainment. The management of the directorate, NAV County and the administrative units all have central roles in the work of developing good common solutions aimed at achieving more efficient administration of benefits. Among other things, the work on production management, improvement methodology and competence-raising should be further strengthened.

The quality of the administration of benefits has not been sufficiently emphasised in the management of the agency over time. Little information is available about the quality of the work carried out in NAV Administration and at NAV offices. The directorate has initiated control measures in the form of key controls in order to promote quality, but developing robust management information about the quality of NAV's work still lies some way in the future. The number of appeals and decisions that are overturned is high, which is an indication of variable quality and administrative practice in the administration of benefits.

Ministry/ministries:

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

Phone: +47 22 24 10 00

Org.nr: 974 760 843