Annual Report 2021: the pandemic puts the state to the test
For the Austrian Court of Audit (ACA), too, 2021 was shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. Against this backdrop, about 20 COVID-19-related audits have already been initiated; overall, the ACA published 61 reports and a basis for discussion for a reformed Political Parties Act in 2021. On 23 December 2021, the ACA furthermore celebrated its 260th anniversary. Nonetheless, it remains committed to looking into the future. From 2022 on, its audits will centre on the topic “Next Generation Austria”. Transparency remains an important issue for the ACA. For the first time, the Annual Report 2021 therefore features an interactive graph on the state of implementation of the ACA’s recommendations.
Follow-up enquiry: interactive and at a glance
By means of the follow-up enquiry process, the ACA measures its effectiveness. To this end, it queries the audited entities whether they have implemented its recommendations. The question of whether the issues addressed by the ACA have actually been solved, is subsequently assessed by the ACA in the so-called follow-up audits.
For the first time, the ACA provides on its website an interactive graph (in German) on the results of the follow-up enquiry process. The graph was devised as a feature of the Annual Report 2021. Interested citizens can now see at a glance whether – according to the information provided by the audited entities – the ACA’s recommendations were implemented. Currently, the corresponding data goes back to 2017. Individual reports or different levels of government can be selected by means of a filter. For 2020, for example, the graph shows that the ACA is creating an impact: 86.5 per cent of the recommendations were implemented either fully or partly or their implementation was promised.
Political Parties Act: the ACA calls for genuine audit rights
In October 2021, the ACA published a basis for discussion as an incentive for a reformed Political Parties Act. The genuine audit rights that the ACA calls for would, for example, allow for a direct audit at the political parties’ premises if the latter fail to submit an adequate statement during the assessment process of the parties’ accountability reports.
COVID-19: focus on the potential for improvement
In 2021 the ACA published comprehensive reports related to the COVID-19 pandemic: "Hardship Fund – Funding Administration", "COVID-19 – Structure and Scope of the Financial Aid Measures" as well as "Health Data on Pandemic Management in the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic“. Furthermore, the ACA has already initiated about 20 COVID-19-related audits on crisis management measures. “The ACA assumes its share of the responsibility in these times by assessing the comprehensive public measures in all their aspects: systematically, functionally and economically,” concludes Margit Kraker, President of the ACA, in her foreword. She also states that, despite everything, the ACA has always taken account of the crisis factors, which is why the audits focus on the potential for improvement and not on criticism. She also observes that the pandemic has put the state to the test.
"Next Generation Austria": audit priority from 2022 on
For the forthcoming three years, the ACA set itself a new audit priority: “Next Generation Austria. Are we passing on something more than just debt to the next generation? On the future role of the state for the next generation.” The ACA thus plans to put a stronger focus on future challenges as the “big task for all areas of administration is to be resilient and to act with foresight,” says President Margit Kraker.
Trust: The ACA Podcast
In January 2021, the ACA went public with a new format: "Trust: The ACA Podcast", which is an in-house production. In 2021, as many as 13 episodes were published on current topics. Hosted and moderated by President Margit Kraker, this podcast gives the citizens the opportunity to gain an insight into the work of the ACA.
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Annual Report 2021 of the Austrian Court of Audit
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Annex to the Annual Report 2021: Follow-up Enquiry in 2021 (in German)