Audit of national parks
Report ID: 48

The cooperative audit of national parks was performed in 2013–2014 and involved the Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) of Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, and Ukraine. The report builds on the seven individual national audit reports.

The main objectives of the cooperative audit were:

  • to assess if national parks are managed appropriately;
  • to address the challenges regarding the conservation and protection of biodiversity in national parks;
  • to evaluate whether public funds are being spent in the best way, allowing the goals of national parks to be achieved.

The audit results show that national parks in most of the participating countries are, in general, performing their functions and working towards achieving the goals set by their respective governments. The countries have employed different models of governance to national parks, but they all need an appropriate management plan as a precondition for the administration of each national park; this is in order to have specific guidelines for their work and for the conservation of nature and use of the national parks. The audit shows that not all authorities ensure that their national parks have a management plan. The involvement of local stakeholders in the management of national parks can give the national parks more legitimacy.

There is a potential conflict of interests between the use of national parks and the protection of nature against threats to the national parks. The public authorities are responsible for the management and protection of national parks for future generations.

The audit shows that the majority of funds allocated to national parks come from the state budgets of the respective countries. Some national parks depend on other sources of income as well. Raising additional income may be in conflict with the protection and conservation of nature.

Analysis (of types) of errors in EU and National public procurement within the Structural Funds programmes
Report ID: 107

In 2013, the Contact Committee of the heads of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) of the Member States of the European Union and the European Court of Auditors mandated the Working Group on Structural Funds to continue its review of issues relating to Structural Funds, more specifically, to carry out a parallel audit on the ‘Analysis (of types) of errors in EU and national public procurement within the structural funds programmes’.

The Working Group consisted of nine SAIs, while a further five SAIs and the European Court of Auditors acted as observers. The parallel audit was carried out in order to understand the reasons why beneficiaries fail to comply with public procurement rules. The comparison of the national results was intended to reveal differences or similar causes in the Member States. Most SAIs based their audit on errors already detected by their national management and control system.

Although this parallel audit was not designed to provide a full and accurate picture of the situation, the findings suggest a rather large number of errors in public procurement under Structural Funds. The following are the main conclusions and recommendations:

 Most authorities of the management and control systems do not systematically record the types of errors in public procurement procedures. They place focus on individual errors only. It is not always assured that all authorities, especially intermediate bodies, report every error detected.

We recommend national authorities to systematically record the types of errors detected in public procurement procedures. This is the only way to obtain a full picture of these errors and address them.

 In 2007, the Coordination Committee of the Funds (COCOF) issued guidelines for determining financial corrections with regard to irregularities in the application of public procurement regulations to contracts co-financed by the Structural Funds. Although the description of the categories is rather ambiguous and vague, most Member States used the COCOF guidelines in their original version without further developing them.

We recommend that national authorities refine the description of the categories and when needed elaborate categories and rates of the COCOF guidelines further in order to ensure a uniform and just application at national level. In addition to that, it would be helpful if the European Commission distributed good practices on how the guidelines are applied in the Member States.

 The national management and control systems detected more public procurement errors in contracts with values below the EU thresholds than above the EU thresholds. However, the average financial impact of errors was higher in procedures above the EU thresholds than below the EU thresholds.
Although most authorities already strive to prevent errors in public procurement procedures, we recommend national authorities to take more targeted action in order to reduce the most common errors in public procurement procedures and those with the highest financial impact.

 According to the findings of the Working Group “lack of knowledge” is the most common reason for errors in public procurement, followed by ‘interpretation difficulties’.
We recommend the Member States to request the European Commission to further clarify the legal framework and reduce the administrative burden for the contracting authorities and the bidders, but without resulting in limitation of the equal access, fair competition and efficient use of public funds. Further to that, we recommend Member States to take the following steps in order to prevent or reduce errors in the area of public procurement:

 They should keep public procurement rules as simple as possible and not change them too radically or too frequently.

 Some Member States should improve the knowledge of the staff of the national authorities in the field of public procurement in order that they are equipped to support beneficiaries and prevent errors.

 Member States should improve their communication policy and provide better information to beneficiaries.

They should try to ensure that beneficiaries exert due diligence at all stages of public procurement.

Efficiency of the process of issuing of biometric passports and supporting information systems
Report ID: 108

A. In the Republic of Latvia the EU funds administration and control system is established at several levels, which during the audit period enabled detection of public procurement errors in the indicative amount of 1%from the total amount declared to the EC, however:
A1. There is a risk that the actions of institutions involved in management of the EU funds in clarifying of the principles and legal framework of public procurement, as well as the impact of the detected errors on procurement procedure are insufficient and ineffective, since:
1.1. The biggest part of the errors or 57% from the total number of errors detected by institutions involved in management of the EU funds, which were subject to proportional financial corrections during the audit period, in all operational programmes were pertaining to unlawful restrictions for selection of tenderers (for example setting specific requirements that favour a single businessman) or unequal treatment of tenderers in awarding of the contract (for example, unjustified preferential treatment given to one of candidates invited to negotiate), indicating that the beneficiaries are not completely aware of the procurement procedures;
1.2. In 45% of the cases the reasons of errors indicated by the beneficiaries do not correspond to the reasons indicated by the audit authority, the responsible and cooperation authorities; for example, in cases when beneficiaries have not selected any of the six reasons of errors, they have indicated to “other reason of error” and in 50% of cases they described these errors as differences in opinion with the institution which had detected the error;
A2. The procedure for data entering and classification of errors in the EU funds management information system is inaccurate — information on public procurement errors is entered without specifying the type of error, as well as the EU funds management information system does not aggregate information on procurement contracts in order to enable determining whether the contracts are subject, not fully or not subject to EU Public Procurement Directives and to apply a respective financial correction.

B. At the result of the audit three recommendations were issued to the Ministry of Finance as the managing authority aimed at:
B.1. Ensuring that detailed information is being entered and accumulated within the EU funds management information system on public procurement errors, so that institutions involved in management of the EU funds can analyse this information and perform sufficient actions to eliminate the errors;
B.2. Ensuring that institutions involved in management of the EU funds provide purposeful support to the beneficiaries in respect to procurement procedures and detailed explanation of the substance of the detected errors in order to reduce the number of public procurement errors within projects financed by the EU funds;
B.3. Reduction of the number of unclassified errors by ensuring accurate classification and evaluation of errors according to their type.

Special Report Management of a Cross-Border Broadband Initiative: the Bytel Project
Report ID: 280

This report is the result of a co-ordinated examination between the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Northern Ireland Audit Office to the Bytel project. The project was aimed to provide high-speed broadband connectivity linking Belfast, Craigavon, Armagh, Dundalk and Dublin It was supported by the European Union (EU) Interreg III programme, which ran from 2000 to 2006.

Due to the nature of the issues to be examined and that Bytel was located in Northern Ireland, the detailed work in relation to the grant payments was carried out by the NIAO. The NIAO's report is also attached as an appendix of the report. The report examines the role of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in the management of the project.


Auditoría Coordinada de Áreas Protegidas (1era edición)
Report ID: 226

Las Áreas Protegidas (AP) son creadas considerando las características naturales relevantes de los territorios, con límites geográficos definidos, y como respuesta a la necesidad de conservación de la biodiversidad.

Estas áreas son reconocidas por la Convención de las Naciones Unidas sobre Diversidad Biológica (CDB) como una estrategia global para la conservación de la biodiversidad. En este sentido, el compromiso internacional establece metas de protección de áreas terrestres y marinas que deben ser alcanzadas por medio de la implementación de sistemas de áreas protegidas ecológicamente representativas y manejadas efectivamente.

En dicho contexto, en el marco de las actividades de la  Comisión Técnica Especial de Medio Ambiente (COMTEMA) de la Organización Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Entidades Fiscalizadoras Superiores (OLACEFS), las Entidades de Fiscalización Superior (EFS) de  Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil (EFS Coordinadora) Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, México, Paraguay (EFS Coordinadora), Perú y Venezuela realizaron una auditoría coordinada. Esta auditoría contó con el apoyo de la Cooperación Alemana GIZ.

La referida auditoría evaluó si las áreas protegidas terrestres de América Latina poseen las condiciones institucionales, normativas y operativas necesarias para alcanzar los objetivos para los cuales fueron creadas. Como parte de esta auditoría fue posible evaluar de manera estándar, 1120 áreas protegidas, lo que permitió elaborar un diagnóstico inédito de la política pública de conservación de la biodiversidad en la región.

Para analizar la gobernanza de las áreas protegidas el TCU creó el INDIMAPA, método de Evaluación de la Implementación y de la Gestión de Áreas Protegidas. Esta herramienta georreferenciada utiliza indicadores e índices los cuales son visualizados en mapas, además de permitir clasificar las áreas protegidas en tres rangos: rojo, amarillo y verde, correspondientes respectivamente al nivel bajo, mediano y alto de implementación de la gestión.

De esta manera, a partir de la auditoría coordinada, la sociedad y las Instituciones de Control podrán seguir la evolución en la administración del patrimonio público ambiental representado por las áreas protegidas.


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