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The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into result orientation in Norwegian development cooperation

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Summary

Background and goal of the investigation

Norway’s long-term development assistance is intended to contribute to permanently lifting people out of poverty. In 2010, Norway’s development assistance totalled NOK 27. 4 billion. The Storting has long expressed an expectation that development assistance should have a result focus.

The goal of the Office of the Auditor General’s investigation has been to evaluate the extent to which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its result orientation and quality assurance, contributes to goal attainment in Norwegian development assistance. The investigation includes the ministry’s assessment of the requirements for goal attainment prior to allocation, the ministry's follow-up of grants and the anti-corruption work in development assistance administration.

Method

The lines of inquiry were pursued using document analysis, interviews and lists of questions. Data were collected in several rounds in Norway, the USA, Nepal and Tanzania. The investigation lasted from 2005 to 2009.

The investigation into the ministry’s administration of bilateral development assistance covers Norway’s planning and follow-up of seven important development assistance initiatives in the fields of health and education in Nepal and Tanzania. The investigation into the ministry’s administration of multilateral development assistance covers Norway’s follow-up in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Results

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has introduced revised guidelines for the administration of development assistance. 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 assistance.

The investigation of the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s administration of long-term development assistance nonetheless shows weaknesses in the ministry’s planning and quality assurance of development assistance initiatives, and in the ministry's work to improve performance reporting and prevent corruption. Weaknesses in the Ministry of Foreign Affair's administration of long-term development assistance entail a risk of inadequate goal attainment. In the Office of the Auditor General's opinion, the Ministry is not doing enough to improve knowledge about the results of development assistance.

Corruption is widespread in Norway’s partner countries. Although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made active efforts to develop measures to uncover and handle corruption in the development assistance context, the investigation shows that the ministry’s evaluation of anti-corruption measures is inadequate in bilateral development assistance, and that Norway’s follow-up of anti-corruption work in UN funds and programmes is limited.

The investigation into multilateral development assistance shows a varying degree of Norwegian follow-up. The ministry’s follow-up varies from organisation to organisation and over time, without this being the result of changes in the risk situation. Among other things, the Ministry does not involve itself in the Executive Board’s work to improve UNICEF’s performance reporting system, despite the fact that the ministry is critical of the information it receives about results. Correspondingly, the investigation into Norway’s follow-up during the period 2006 to 2009 shows that the ministry only evaluated and communicated Norway’s points of view about the quality of UNDP’s performance reporting in one of the four years in question. The investigation also shows that the documentation of Norwegian participation on executive boards is poor and that Norway’s follow-up is weakened by a lack of resources. In the Office of the Auditor General’s opinion, it can be questioned whether the ministry gives sufficient priority to follow-up of organisations. In its response to the report, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs agreed that Norwegian participation on executive boards is not sufficiently documented, and immediate measures will be taken to improve documentation and Norway’s participation in boards.

The investigation into bilateral development assistance shows that the ministry’s evaluations of whether planned measures meet fundamental quality requirements are inadequate. This includes evaluations of the quality of performance indicators and anti-corruption measures. Deficiencies in the ministry’s evaluations increase the risk of failure to achieve goals. The investigation also shows that the ministry’s performance follow-up is inadequate, which reduces the possibility of improving goal attainment on an ongoing basis.

Ministry/ministries:

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

Phone: +47 22 24 10 00

Org.nr: 974 760 843