A concise presentation of public services, the provision of support for the verification of eligibility requirements and the provision of information for a more efficient use of public funds – these are the objectives of the transparency database. However, the auditors of the Austrian Court of Audit (ACA) note in the follow-up report "Transparency Database – Costs and Benefits, Targets and Target Achievement", which was published today, that the Federal Ministry of Finance still had no overview of how many reportable services had not been entered into the transparency database in the audited years – 2015 to May 2020.
The provinces recorded their services in the transparency database based on the agreement according to Article 15a of the Federal Constitutional Law. There was, however, no legal obligation to also report the corresponding payments. The provinces transferred, to varying degrees, payment data to the transparency database: Upper Austria has entered data since 2017, Lower Austria and Tyrol since 2018, Vorarlberg since 2019. In the period of 2015 to 2019, 50 per cent of the provinces’ notifications – overall EUR 4.780 billion – were made by Upper Austria. The provinces of Burgenland, Carinthia and Vienna together reported three per cent of the payments. In practical terms, the municipalities did not make any voluntary notifications.
In its follow-up report, the ACA highlights that one of the main benefits of the transparency database, namely an overview of public services (in particular support schemes) across all levels of government, could not be achieved without a complete reporting of payments by the provinces and municipalities. The auditors therefore reiterate their recommendation to the Federal Ministry of Finance to request, at least on an annual basis, a declaration of completeness from the federal ministries and the provinces to improve the completeness of the notifications and the overview of incomplete data. They should explicitly indicate and justify lacking services and lacking notifications.
ACA recommends a clarification of competences
In its preceding report, the ACA pointed to the fact that both the Federation as well as the provinces had the competence to issue regulations regarding the transparency database. However, a legal basis defining the competences for establishing a transparency database across all levels of government was lacking. No uniform notification requirements have been established for the Federal Government, the provinces and the municipalities. The Federal Ministry of Finance took steps to prepare an inclusion of the transparency database in the Federal Constitutional Law. However, at the time of the follow-up audit, no corresponding draft legislation was available. The ACA therefore upholds its recommendations issued to the Federal Ministry of Finance to advocate for a constitutional provision to clarify the competences as regards the transparency database and to prepare a corresponding draft law.
Of 22 assessed recommendations, the Federal Ministry of Finance implemented 13 fully, five partly and four not at all.
The ACA also published two other follow-up reports today: "Corruption Prevention Systems in Selected Federal Ministries" (in German) and "IT Project ZEPTA of the Pension Insurance Institutions and the Subsequent Standard Product ePV“ (in German).
Overall, 80 per cent of the assessed recommendations were implemented either fully or partly. The ACA creates an impact.
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Report: Transparency Database – Costs and Benefits, Targets and Target Achievement; Follow-up Audit (in German)
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Report: Corruption Prevention Systems in Selected Federal Ministries; Follow-up Audit (in German)
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