National Audit Office: Establishment of Police and Border Guard Board was effective, but threats lie ahead

Toomas Mattson | 4/27/2016 | 12:00 AM

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TALLINN, 27 April 2016 – The National Audit Office is of the opinion that the merger of the Police Board, Border Guard Board and Citizenship and Migration Board has been effective, the number of support officers has decreased considerably and the public service level indicators of the combined agency have remained the same or improved. However, the further decrease in staff numbers may have a significant impact on the capability of the Police and Border Guard Board (PBGB), which is something that should be separately analysed – if the present trends continue, the PBGB will have to cope with just two-thirds of its present staff.

In late 2015, the PBGB had 1000 fewer employees than in 2010 when the combined agency started operating. Should the current workforce trends at the PBGB continue, the average age of the PBGB’s employees and the number of employees who retire will increase significantly in the next ten years. If the number of people who start working at the PBGB (after graduating from the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences) and who leave the board remains the same as the average in recent years, then the forecast number of employees who will retire alone means that the PBGB will have 30% fewer employees by 2025 than it has now.

Contrary to plans, the biggest savings achieved in the PBGB after the merger have come from labour costs, which in 2015 were 8% less than the total labour costs of the three merged agencies in 2008. This has been possible as a result of a significant reduction in the number of employees. The economic crisis of 2008 played a significant role in this, as it put efficiency and cost-cutting in the foreground.

The goals related to cost-cutting as a result of merging the support functions of the three agencies were partly achieved. The merger was expected to result in savings on property expenses, acquisition of equipment and management. Another goal was to reduce the share of support officers among the staff in such a manner that the total number of employees would not decrease. Money has also been saved in the PBGB by reducing property square metres per employee and via expenses of land vehicles.

The share of support officers in the total staff of the PBGB has been reduced from 19 per cent to 11 percent.

The level of the public services of the PBGB assessed during the audit had remained the same or improved from 2009-2015. Eleven public services provided by the PBGB were selected during the analyses and 33 indicators that characterise these services and for which reference data existed, were analysed. Sixteen indicators remained unchanged from 2009-2015 whilst 17 improved. Therefore, the absence of consistent indicators made it impossible to assess the quality and impact of the PBGB’s services as a whole, but the assessment was limited to single indicators that characterise services.

The increase in the use of technical and other aids has led to the biggest improvement in the earlier border guarding services, guarding the sea border and land border. The distance driven by the land vehicles used by police officers has increased by 27% in comparison with 2009 whilst the number of vehicles has decreased. The sea border guards have abandoned three old ships and acquired a new one (the number of days at sea has increased). The number of working hours of small vessels has increased by 62%, although the number of the vessels has remained the same.

On 26 February 2015 the Government of the Republic approved the Internal Security Development Plan 2015-2020 (STAK), which is an important step further in the strategic management of the field, but there is no financial coverage for at least 1/5 of the development plan (ca 400 million euros). No priorities have been set in the STAK, which means that it’s unclear which parts of it will definitely be implemented and which ones will be put hold due to the lack of money. The STAK also contains no analysis of how the partial implementation of the development plan would impact on the achievement of the goals and internal security in the broader sense.

This why the National Audit Office advices to first analyse what are things that will not be done and the impact this will have on internal security in the broader sense if no additional funds are found for the implementation of the Internal Security Development Plan 2015-2020.

The National Audit Office also advised to guarantee the number of employees required for the performance of the functions of the Police and Border Guard Board by maintaining a sufficient number of trainees at the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences, encouraging people working elsewhere to join the PBGB and, most importantly, motivating younger people to stay in the PBGB for longer. The National Audit Office advised the Government of the Republic of form an opinion on the desired level of the average wages at the PBGB and prepare specific actions for achieving the desired wage level.

Background

The purpose of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of the management and implementation of the reforms at the Police and Border Guard Board (PBGB), the impact of the reforms on the indicators characterising the quality of the PBGB’s services and whether the reforms have created the premises of maintaining or improving the service level in the future.

The audit focused on the preparation of the PBGB’s establishment and the subsequent period until 2015.

The PBGB is the largest state agency in Estonia, which has over 5000 employees and whose activities concern all persons staying in Estonia. The PBGB’s functions include law enforcement and processing misdemeanours as well as determination of citizenship, issuing documents and guarding both the sea and land borders. The PBGB also guards the external border of the European Union and Schengen Area, thereby contributing to guaranteeing the internal security of Europe.

The budget of the PBGB in 2016 is 174,3 million euros. This comprises 1.97% of the state budget of Estonia.

Toomas Mattson
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  • Posted: 4/27/2016 12:00 AM
  • Last Update: 4/28/2016 9:55 AM
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