The National Audit Office is a constitutional institution – its existence and essence are stipulated in the Constitution of Estonia, adopted at a referendum in summer 1992. The Constitution stipulates that the National Audit Office is in its activities an independent state body responsible for economic control that is directed by the Auditor General, who is appointed to and released from office by the Riigikogu on the proposal of the President of the Republic. The authorities of the Auditor General in directing the National Audit Office can be compared to a minister who runs a ministry.
The Constitution also gives a general list of the persons audited by the National Audit Office, which basically covers the entire public sector. The Constitution also stipulates that the Auditor General shall present to the Riigikogu an overview on the use and preservation of state assets during the preceding budgetary year at the same time as the report on the implementation of the state budget is debated in the Riigikogu. A right that is very rare among the highest control authorities in the different states of the world has transferred to the present day from the constitution of pre-war Estonia – the Auditor General in Estonia may take part in government sessions with the right to speak in matters concerning his or her duties.
The National Audit Office’s essence and organisation of work are specified by law since the Constitution only stipulates the most general issues concerning the National Audit Office. The first National Audit Office Act after the Second World War was adopted by the Supreme Soviet in 1990 and it relied heavily on the relevant act that entered into force in 1938. The new and improved act was prepared in 1995.
The current National Audit Office Act was adopted in 2002 and it specifies the goals, types and extent of the audits carried out by the National Audit Office and also the obligation to enclose the responses of the audited entities with the audit reports. The term of economic control was thereby defined according to international traditions, the procedural acts of auditing were specified, etc. The act considerably increased the extent of public administration audits by adding to the list of audited persons such foundations and entities in public law where the state is one of the founders and the option to audit the use of funds received from the European Union.
The act was amended in 2005 and the options of the National Audit Office to audit local governments were broadened. The National Audit Office cannot assess the expedience of the activities and use of money by local governments in order to avoid conflict with the principle of autonomy of local governments. In other words, the National Audit Office cannot conduct performance audits in local governments.
The right to expand audits of local governments caused many disputes and one of them even reached the Supreme Court, where it was decided that the additional rights are in compliance with the Constitution.
1/19/2010 1:27 PM
10/24/2012 1:36 PM
10/24/2012 1:36 PM