National Audit Office: There is a lack of reliable and comparable information about local government administrative and management expenses

Toomas Mattson | 9/18/2007 | 12:00 AM

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TALLINN, 18 September 2007 - It is the view of the National Audit Office that there is currently a lack of reliable and comparable information regarding the actual expenses incurred by local government officials, on which a variety of interest groups could rely in making decisions, and that there are widespread problems in the designation of fees and allowances paid to civic and municipal leaders.

On the basis of 2006 data, the National Audit Office carried out an audit of the transparency in budgets of the expenses incurred by officials from 30 local governments (i.e. administration and management costs), their fulfilment in reports and the legality of these expenses, and inspected the use of money allocated for such expenses.

As a result of the audit, the National Audit Office must admit that there is at present a lack of reliable and comparable information about the administrative and management expenses of all local governments. Information regarding the expenses incurred by officials is not required for the satisfaction of anybody’s curiosity or in order to assess the level of service provided by a civic or municipal official: it is required so that it is possible to assess the expenses incurred in the management of a city or municipality as a whole and to compare and contrast them with those of other similar local governments.

Although the Ministry of Finance currently collects and publishes figures related to the income and expenses of local governments and their compliance with budgets, neither the structure of the data that is collected nor the manner in which the data is published on the Ministry of Finance website enables an overview to be obtained of the actual expenses incurred by local government officials. The minimal differentiation between expenses that is seen in local government budgets is also a hindrance to obtaining an overview, and there are shortcomings too in the publication of information regarding budgets and their fulfilment on local government websites. The National Audit Office has drawn attention to this last point in the course of previous audits.

Based on the results of the audit, it is the view of the National Audit Office that the widespread practice within local governments of one-off additional fees, bonuses and holiday payments not being designated for civic/municipal mayors by a legally competent body or council but rather the government or even the mayor himself or herself should be considered a serious problem. These or similar cases of payments made to other members of civic or municipal governments were identified in 23 out of the 30 local governments that were audited, with the average amount of fees and allowances paid which exceeded the competence of the local government being between 20,000 and 30,000 kroons.

In order to boost the effectiveness of checks on the expenses incurred by officials and to render these expenses more transparent, the National Audit Office has made recommendations to both the bodies audited and the Ministry of Finance which these institutions have undertaken to take more actively into account in their future operations.

Toomas Mattson
Communication Manager of National Audit Office
Telephone: 6400 777
Mob: 51 34900

  • Posted: 9/18/2007 12:00 AM
  • Last Update: 9/15/2015 12:58 PM
  • Last Review: 9/15/2015 12:58 PM

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