Performance audit

Performance audits focus on evaluation of adherence to the three main principles of public administration, namely: economy, efficacy and resourcefulness.

As a general rule, the State Audit Office does not make a separate evaluation of economy or, in other words, to what extent costs incurred in order to achieve certain results have been minimised. However, economy may be evaluated upon assessing efficacy. For evaluating efficacy, the State Audit Office analyses whether and in what way the result of an activity could have been improved while using the same amount of funds, or how a similar result could have been reached at a lower cost. For assessing resourcefulness, the State Audit Office analyses:

  • achievement of the goals set by legislation or strategic plans;
  • the actual result as compared to the initial goals.

The State Audit Office is also interested in the prerequisites of efficacy and resourcefulness. For such purpose, the Office assesses to what extent the public sector has adhered to good management practices in its activities and whether the actual needs of the society have been taken into consideration.

As public administration manifests itself through separate fields of public life, the State Audit Office does not evaluate it as an abstract concept, but rather assesses the areas in which the results thereof can be seen and felt. Already for some time, for such reason, the Office has lately been focussing on the examination of separate problems. The Office feels that by examining the activity of the state through observing how an individual problem has been solved allows a much deeper understanding of the ways in which agencies operate, than a mere analysis of their working order ever would. As a result of such approach, several cases of “no-man’s-land” (i.e. areas remaining outside the area of administration of all ministries) have been discovered and mapped. The Office has found contradictions in the operation of different Ministries as well as cases of duplicated operation, which is both costly and pointless.

At present, four fields are audited: enterprise, environmental protection, self-sufficiency and health.

Examination of the field of enterprise serves the purpose of rendering the actions of the state in developing such field more effective, including by concentrating capital and technology through state support and restrictions in order to improve the rate of economic increase in Estonia. In the area of environmental protection, issues related to the handling of hazardous waste and prevention of the creation thereof are under closest scrutiny at the moment.

Upon examining issues of self-sufficiency, the main focus is put on whether the state has created sufficient prerequisites in order to cover the basic needs and to develop the potential of every child until the youngster enters the job market. Special attention is put on high-risk children.

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