National Audit Office: majority of local governments unable to conduct systematic monitoring and supervision

2/6/2009 | 10:25 AM

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TALLINN, 6 February 2009 - The National Audit Office (NAO) has audited whether local governments have conducted supervision and monitoring in the fields of activity for which they are responsible. It appeared that supervision was considered secondary and performed infrequently or irregularly by several local governments.

Currently, there are 22 legal acts currently in force in Estonia which set out, among other institutions, urban and rural municipality governments as bodies to conduct extra-judicial proceedings concerning the various violations and misdemeanours listed therein; moreover, specific areas have been identified over which local governments must arrange supervision on their territories. The importance of local government as supervisory authority lies in the fact that it constitutes the administrative level closest to the citizen, hence providing good opportunity for infringement avoidance or a prompt and proper response.

The audit revealed that many local governments had not acknowledged the need for assessing and avoiding risks which might arise in different areas of activity. Supervision is a secondary and irregular activity in several local governments. Even if a local government body has exercised supervision, it has too often been in response to infringement and covers only few of those areas which the local government is required to supervise under the law. It also appeared that, during the three years covered by the audit, misdemeanour proceedings were conducted by only one third of local governments and that the major obstacle to exercising supervision as well as handling misdemeanours was the lack of time and expertise of local officials.

Local governments are rather passive in developing and encouraging mutual cooperation to overcome shortcomings. However, once a local government has entered into cooperation with state agencies within a specific area, the cooperation results are mostly satisfactory.

The NAO finds that if broad supervisory authority in very different areas of activity has been conferred on local governments by the law, the mere existence of powers is not enough to expect that the local governments are able and competent to act as a public authority maintaining legal order in every field. First and foremost this applies to small municipalities with only a few or some ten officials, where supervision is one of the many duties of an official.

In this context, it is essential to recognise that today smaller local governments have little opportunity to exercise supervisory functions more efficiently without neglecting their other duties.

Thus, it is justified to ask what should be the set of functions or the population number of a rural or urban municipality so as to be able to perform effectively the full array of supervisory tasks assigned to it.


Toomas Mattson
NAO Communication Service
Tel.: 640 0777
Mobile: 513 4900
Email: toomas.mattson@riigikontroll.ee

  • Posted: 2/6/2009 10:25 AM
  • Last Update: 8/28/2015 10:25 PM
  • Last Review: 8/28/2015 10:25 PM

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