Office Of The Auditor General
The SAI is Established under the constitution by an Act of Parliament/Legislative body. The Head SAI is appointed by Parliament. The supreme body of OAG is the Board of Auditors General consisting of five members appointed by the Parliament for its four years. The appointments are for a fixed period and the Auditors General cannot be dismissed during this period. The head SAI appointed for a fixed tenure of four years. The various conditions of service of the head SAI or features of the mandate to secure independence are:
- Special procedure for appointment
- Fixed Tenure
- Control over resources/budget
- Immunity/protection from actions by others in its performance of duties
- Independence to frame workplans
- The OAG enjoys full independence in choice of work regarding to standard, methodology and procedure to be used in performing the audit work.
The OAG is fully independent from the government, the executive. The draft budget of the OAG is adopted at the meeting o Board of Auditors General and passed directly to Parliament Presidium which is passed in its plenary session. A state authorised public accountant, who has been appointed by the parliament Presidium audits the financial accounts of the OAG.
The SAI's jurisdiction extend to the following and there are no limitations imposed on this jurisdiction:
- Federal Government
- Banks whose capital forms part of the Federal, Provincial and local government and autonomous bodies substantially funded by the government where the state holding represents 50% or more..
- Entities owned or controlled by the Federal, Provincial and local governments and other entities owned or controlled by such government owned or controlled entities
- Audit of Receipt of the Government.
The SAI have powers of requisitioning all records of the auditee departments/organisations to discharge. OAG has access to all information it requires for the audit work. The Audit Act states that the OAG has unlimited powers in collecting information from, and investigating all matters regarding the use of public resources, in both government and other public administrations. The SAI have powers to enforce or initiate enforcement action to secure access to needed records. The OAG can require through the ministries or direct from the official authorities or officials any information or statement found necessary in order to carry out is tasks. Furthermore by the present legislation the OAG shall be forwarded with necessary documentation to audit state-accounts. The OAG have no legal powers to enforce action to secure access to needed records, which are not produced, but in cases of importance the matter can be reported to Parliament. The SAI has no powers to seal search or seize documents and other related articles where it is considered necessary for its audit and inspection.
The SAI does no have power to seek testimonials of the person concerned or those who are deemed to have been involved in the matter subject to audit and inspection. According to common law all civil servants are obligated to give information to OAG. If the OAG during the audit work finds evidence of illegal actions the OAG will ask the agency or relevant Ministry to send the case over to the police or prosecuting authority for investigation. The OAG monitors the follow-up. If necessary actions are not taken the case can be reported to Parliament. By the present legislation the OAG has the power to decide claims of interested civil servants in connection with official actions, duties and behaviours of persons subject to audit. However the OAG has not used this power.
According to a proposal regarding the legislation for the OAG, the OAG will not a have judicial powers at all. By the present legislation the OAG has the authority to take punitive action and/or impose surcharges. However the OAG has not used this power. The SAI have the power to access the computer systems of the auditees and review the development of computer systems of auditees and suggest/enforce any control. the SAI neither has any role in appointment of external editors nor can supervise them.
Audit Procedures And Functions
The SAI prescribes Financial, Compliance, Performance and EDP Audit. The audit responsibilities are laid down in the following legal provisions:
- Article 75 K of the Norwegian Constitution
- The Act on the Auditing of Governmental accounts of 8. February 1918
- Special Instructions regarding the Auditing of Governmental Accounts approved by the Parliament on 30. January 1918
- Later instructions approved by the Parliament
All the audit work is conducted according to developed auditing standards and audit guidelines developed by the OAG. There are established guidelines for financial audits, performance audits and corporate control.
- Financial audit: OAG shall every year audit accounts presented by the senior higher government and by subordinate government agencies who are obliged to present accounts to the state relating to funds, supplies and assets of any kind.
- Performance audit: Performance auditing is defined as the systematic analysis of the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the government administration on the basis of the decisions and intentions of the Norwegian Parliament, the Storting.
- Corporate control: The OAG shall monitor Ministers management of the State's interests in wholly state owned enterprises banks etc and limited companies where the State's holding represents 50 % or more of the voting stock. Private audit companies audit these enterprises.
By the present legislation the OAG has decision-making authority of the financial statements of all agencies subordinated the different Ministries, and the OAG is authorised to verify the legality of financial management and transactions. The decision-making authority is not legally binding and is not regarded as an ordinary legal judgment. Recently the OAG has decided to stop this procedure, except from approval of the financial statements.
Performance of all types of audit undertaken by the OAG is based on risk and materiality. Based on risk and materiality the OAG monitor the following up of audit findings. The OAG also submit an annual report to Parliament containing a review and evaluation of the matters that has been approved by the Parliament to be under observation in the course of the last five years. The SAI does not follow any specific standards, practices and guidelines in conducting audit and reporting.
There are established a Nordic collaboration between the Nordic SAIs. The collaboration has for instance approved a regulation on auditing of Nordic institutions and projects. The OAG also participate in international meetings and developments projects initiated by EUROSAI, INTOSAI, OECD etc. The OAG can engage consultants and/or obtain professional services in conducting audit. The OAG has established an auditing standard for the use of work performed by other auditors and external experts in the work performed by the OAG. The SAI reports on acts state economic interests like mass embezzlement of State assets, serious losses and wastes. By present legislation the OAG should be given a notice from the Government /the auditees about fraud or embezzlement. The OAG will monitor the following up by the government .It can see the ultimate disposal of such cases, but if the following up in the Government is unsatisfactory, the OAG could report the case to Parliament.
Any circumstances that merit criticism revealed by the audit must first be presented to the audited agency for comment. If the matters are so serious that the office must report them to the Parliament, the Ministry concerned must be given the opportunity to respond to the auditors' criticism or the report before the matter is submitted to Parliament. The OAG submits different kinds of reports to Parliament following kind of reports to the Parliament:
- an annual report sent to the Parliament during the autumn with findings or results on the previous year's central government financial accounts. The report includes critical reviews of the economic dispositions of the Governmental agencies and the Ministers, and a proposal of decisions for each subject government financial accounts. The report includes
- an annual report containing a review and evaluation of the matters that has been approved by the Parliament to be under observation in the course of the last five years. The cases are either concluded, because the case can be considered closed, or it is recommended that the matter continue to be kept under observation.
- an annual report informing the Parliament of the results of the OAG 's monitoring of the administration of the state's proprietary interests in companies, banks, etc.
- several reports following a completed performance audit. They are sent to the Parliament as soon as they are ready as a report.
The SAI has no role on disposal or action taken on its audit findings. All audit reports of the OAG are published as official parliamentary documents. Furthermore the OAG is comprised to some extend by the Act concerning Public Access to Documents in the public. All reports and letters written by the Office are therefore open for the public. However neither internal documents, audit plans, documents that are in the controlled agencies possession attached a specific case are available for the public. The SAI does not have powers to amend accounts in case of Financial Statements audits. It does not has an advisory role to the government.
The SAI constituted as a collegial multi-member body (Board-Committee-Chamber) and is a Board of Audit. The supreme body of the OAG is the Board of Auditors General, consisting of five members appointed by the Parliament for a period of four years. The political allegiances of the Auditors General tend to reflect the political composition of the Parliament. The Board is often made up of former Parliament members. To be a member of the Board of the OAG is considered a position of trust. Board members cannot be dismissed during the election period. The OAG can examine the efficiency and effectiveness of the government policy, but is prohibited from examining the policy itself.
The Auditors General will therefore remain neutral to party politics when conducting their obligations. The Board of Auditors General constitutes the Board with overall directive and supervisory authority in all matters of general policy. Responsibility for the day-to-day functioning for the OAG rests with the Chairman of the Board and he is the only member of the Board who is working on full time basis in the Office. The SAI required empowered to engage external auditors/agencies/consultants.
Administrative Functions And Miscellaneous
The SAI have full independence in forming its workplan. The OAG has the power to recruit the permanent staff, but the formal appointment of the staff leaders is conducted by the Stortings Presidency. A State Authorized public Accountant is appointed by the Parliaments Presidium to audit the financial accounts of the OAG. The SAI required to submit a report on its activities to the Parliament.