After a four-year hiatus, Auditor General Per-Kristian Foss will check once again that the Storting’s administration complies with Norwegian law. E claim Smith, an expert in public law, believes that the break was completely unnecessary.
On Thursday night, the Auditor General’s Office announced that they will once again investigate the Storting’s management.
It happened after Aftenposten on Tuesday. discovered that the Office of the Auditor General has not verified that the Storting’s management follows the laws and regulations for four years.
The case sparked a heated debate between the Auditor General’s Office and the Storting. It turned out that Auditor General Per-Kristian Foss has experienced that the chairmanship of the Storting during this period has prevented the Office of the Auditor General from conducting so-called compliance audits.
The current chairman of the Storting completely disagrees. Tone W. Trøen (H) came out on Wednesday with a clear message that the Storting never intended to put sticks in the wheels of their own watchdog.
Foss is now receiving criticism from one of the country’s top public law experts, Professor E claim Smith of the University of Oslo.
He believes that under current legislation, the Auditor General’s Office does not depend on the Storting’s blessing to investigate the administration.
– I shouldn’t have stopped
– It is clear that the Office of the Auditor General could have conducted a compliance audit. In my opinion, they should have done the same, says Smith.
It says that according to clear legal provisions, only the Storting can instruct the Office of the Auditor General.
– But this has not happened. And neither the chairman of the Storting nor the administration have the authority to stop investigations that the Office of the Auditor General itself finds reasons to initiate, Smith says.
– Therefore, I do not see that there is anything in the way that the General Audit now goes into the case of the housing for travelers, if it wishes to do so.
– The General Auditor can carry out the tasks imposed by law, with total independence from the chairmanship or administration of the Storting.
Foss told Aftenposten that the Auditor General’s Office would normally have gotten into the traveler housing case as a result of Aftenposten’s disclosures in recent weeks, but that they have been prevented from doing so.
Smith refers to section 2 of the Office of the Auditor General:
“The Office of the Auditor General will carry out its tasks independently and independently and will decide for itself how the work will be organized and organized.”
Smith says how independent the Auditor General’s Office actually acts depends on how you define your own role.
– How independent they act is not only a question of the legal framework, but also of how the key people are “screwed” in the head and how high awareness they have then about their own role.
Foss: – No questions asked
Auditor General Per-Kristian Foss largely agrees with Professor E claim Smith.
– We work independently and independently and decide for ourselves how the work should be organized, says Foss.
The reason he stopped anyway was because he felt he received a clear message from the Storting.
– The chair is our formal point of contact in the Storting. When they gave us a clear suspension order and raised questions about the legal basis, we assumed they acted on behalf of the Storting.
– Why have you not made the case public beforehand, so that the question of the Storting’s management review can be the subject of public debate?
– The letters between us and the Storting have been open in our postal journal since 2017, but we have received no requests for access or questions about them so far. When Aftenposten asked if we planned to investigate the traveler housing case and requested a justification why not, we were open about the justification.
Foss also does not accept self-criticism for allowing the Storting to have a four-year hiatus without compliance audits.
– Should you have informed the Storting in plenary about the situation at an earlier stage?
– We are politically independent and we will not act politically. Therefore, we do not communicate directly with parties or individual representatives, but with the chairmanship and administration of the Storting.
Assigns responsibility to the Auditor General
Regardless of who is responsible for the situation, the consequence is that the Office of the Auditor General has never conducted a compliance audit with the Storting management while Tone W. Trøen has been chairman of the Storting.
When Aftenposten asks her why she has accepted it, she replies:
– The Office of the Auditor General conducts its audit independently and decides which audits it will implement.
– What do you think is the reason why this situation has arisen?
– I relate to the written documentation that is available. Here it is clear that the Office of the Auditor General itself believes that they can conduct audits as they have done before.