86 per cent of the recommendations were implemented
Today, the Austrian Court of Audit (ACA) published three follow-up reports: "Universities' Equity Interests in Companies; Medical University of Vienna and Linz University", "ELER: Establishment and Operation of Clusters and Networks" and "Transport Infrastructure of the Federation – Strategy, Planning, Financing". The audits show that overall 86 per cent of the assessed recommendations were implemented either fully or partly. The ACA makes an impact.
Equity interests of universities: economy and efficiency
In end-2019, the Medical University of Vienna had nine equity interests in companies, the Linz University had 13. In their initial report, the ACA’s auditors had recommended to the Medical University of Vienna and the Linz University to also take into account the criteria of economy and efficiency when acquiring new equity interest or continuing to manage already existing ones.
In the follow-up report the ACA notes the following: the Medical University of Vienna prepared a draft manual on equity interests. This draft stipulates that the acquisition of new equity interests or the continuation of already existing ones shall be based on the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. The equity interests shall therefore contribute to the economic success of the Medical University of Vienna.
At the time of the follow-up audit, the manual was only available as an advanced draft. The Medical University of Vienna implemented this recommendation partly.
In contrast, the Linz University implemented the recommendation fully by ensuring that its manual on equity interest management envisages regular evaluations to determine the added value and the potential risk of the equity interests as well as periodic economic efficiency calculations.
Of nine assessed recommendations, the Medical University of Vienna implemented two fully , five partly and one not at all. The implementation of one recommendation was promised. Of seven assessed recommendations, the Linz University implemented four fully and three partly.
The funding of clusters should be sustainable
In its preceding report “EAFRD: Establishment and Operation of Clusters and Networks” the ACA had recommended to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to grant subsidies for the “establishment and operation of clusters” to applicants who present sustainable financings concepts for the time after the end of the funding. This recommendation was based on the fact that the federal ministry had approved cluster projects that – according to the funding applicants – would need funding again in order to be continued. In these cases the funding would have no sustainable effect.
In the follow-up report the auditors critically point to the fact that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture included a question on the financial sustainability of the project after the end of the funding in the application forms of only three of five calls for projects. As regards the calls for projects “Kulinarik 2019 – 2022” (“Culinary Delights 2019 – 2022”) and “Digitalisierung in der Landwirtschaft” (“Digitalization in Agriculture”), no financing concepts had been requested for the time after the end of the funding. The ACA considers this recommendation as partly implemented and reiterates its recommendation from the preceding report.
Of 13 assessed recommendations, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture implemented six fully, five partly and two not at all.
Transport infrastructure – expansion strategy for the high-level road network
Of the overall twelve assessed recommendations issued in the report “Transport Infrastructure of the Federation – Strategy, Planning and Financing”, the Federal Ministry for Climate Action implemented five fully and five partly. The implementation of one recommendation was promised. As regards another recommendation, no case had arisen by the time of the follow-up audit in which it could have been applied.
Originally the ACA had recommended to the Federal Ministry for Climate Action to coordinate and publish a long-term strategy for the expansion of the high-level road network with the Austrian road operator ASFINAG.
In the follow-up report, the auditors noted that the recommendation was partly implemented as the Federal Ministry for Climate Action had initiated a coordination process. Once this process is completed, a prioritization of the planned projects in the high-level road network should be available, which would then form the basis for the construction programme for the period of 2021 to 2026. The consultation process with ASFINAG, however, was still ongoing at the time of the follow-up audit. The construction programme has therefore not been published either. The ACA upholds its recommendations to the Federal Ministry for Climate Action.
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Report: Universities’ Equity Interests in Companies; Medical University of Vienna and Linz University; Follow-up Audit (in German)
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Report: EAFRD: Establishment and Operation of Clusters and Networks; Follow-up Audit (in German)
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