State auditor confirms violations

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Fully 16 of Norway’s 19 government ministries have broken the rules for making extra funding allocations, State Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Tuesday. Failure to publicly announce availability of funding was the most frequent violation.

That’s what brought down Government Minister Audun Lysbakken this week, and now it appears he’s not alone in running a ministry where funding practices run afoul of the rules. According to Kosmo, the vast majority of ministries broke rules on utlysning, the public announcements that allow various groups to learn about available funds and apply for them.

Kosmo told NRK that his auditors in the state agency Riksrevisjonen went through various practices for allocating extra funds, on top of what may have been budgeted in a certain year. Of 13 ministries examined, nine received reprimands.

The state auditors reported that state managers “face challenges” regarding correct budgeting, setting goals, internal control and reporting measures.” Kosmo said he therefore wasn’t surprised when funding violations were revealed in Lysbakken’s ministry on Monday. “I wasn’t very shocked, no,” Kosmo told NRK.

Lysbakken resigned following revelations that, among other things, his ministry had awarded funds to a group with close ties to his political party, the Socialist Left (SV), and that other groups didn’t have a chance to apply for the money.

The Parliament’s disciplinary committee was meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss how they would proceed with the matter. Committee leader Anders Anundsen is seeking an investigation of funding practices at all of Norway’s government ministries.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has said he doesn’t think an investigation is necessary, but said he would cooperate with a review of all extra allocations in all departments in 2011. He also felt compelled on Tuesday to bring up the funding issues with his ministers.

“When I was informed by Audun Lysbakken that rules may have been broken in several cases over several years in his ministry, I took up the importance of good routines and following applicable rules and laws with all the ministers,” Stoltenberg told NRK. “My office also took up the issue with all ministries at the bureaucratic level.”

He said his ministers would answer any questions the parliamentary committee raises with them.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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