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The New NAO in Sweden – the Deprofession-alization of the Performance Auditor

Shirin, Ahlbäck Öberg and Bringselius, Louise LU (2010) Statsvetenskapliga årsmötet 2010
Abstract
Performance audit has become increasingly common in the public administration and every western democracy has today an independent National Audit Office (NAO). However, although the external requirements may be met, the functioning of these agencies may be jeopardized by internal and more subtle cultural factors relating to the role of the performance auditor. In Sweden, a new NAO called Riksrevisionen was formed in 2003, with the merger of the two former agencies for national audit. In mergers, extensive resistance often arises in the horizontal dimension running between the merging organizations. In this case, however, the horizontal resistance was soon replaced by resistance in a vertical dimension, running between the three... (More)
Performance audit has become increasingly common in the public administration and every western democracy has today an independent National Audit Office (NAO). However, although the external requirements may be met, the functioning of these agencies may be jeopardized by internal and more subtle cultural factors relating to the role of the performance auditor. In Sweden, a new NAO called Riksrevisionen was formed in 2003, with the merger of the two former agencies for national audit. In mergers, extensive resistance often arises in the horizontal dimension running between the merging organizations. In this case, however, the horizontal resistance was soon replaced by resistance in a vertical dimension, running between the three Auditor-Generals on the one hand and the auditors on the other hand. In this paper, we attempt to explain why this opposition occurred. A five year case study of the formation of the Swedish NAO has been conducted. Internal documents have also be scrutinized, as well as employee attitude surveys. It is concluded that the status of the auditor at the Swedish NAO has been hollowed out and hierarchy has increased. It is also noted that there has been a long-lasting dispute over what kind of audits should be conducted, where the Auditor-Generals have attempted to transform the previous audit approach with an approach more similar to compliance audit. Auditors have consistently objected, but some critics have been met with sanctions. In a recent parliamentary commission the argument raised by auditors was supported and the Auditor-Generals were requested to align. The study shows how the independence of the NAO is jeopardized with the de-professionalization of auditors and it also illustrates how professional and cultural factors may harm the outcome of public sector reform. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to conference
publication status
published
subject
keywords
National audit, NAO, profession, professionalization, auditor, Riksrevisionenm SAI
conference name
Statsvetenskapliga årsmötet 2010
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
20783df5-0833-4a41-bced-d550a68a21f5 (old id 1712029)
date added to LUP
2010-11-08 10:15:00
date last changed
2016-04-16 10:47:10
@misc{20783df5-0833-4a41-bced-d550a68a21f5,
  abstract     = {Performance audit has become increasingly common in the public administration and every western democracy has today an independent National Audit Office (NAO). However, although the external requirements may be met, the functioning of these agencies may be jeopardized by internal and more subtle cultural factors relating to the role of the performance auditor. In Sweden, a new NAO called Riksrevisionen was formed in 2003, with the merger of the two former agencies for national audit. In mergers, extensive resistance often arises in the horizontal dimension running between the merging organizations. In this case, however, the horizontal resistance was soon replaced by resistance in a vertical dimension, running between the three Auditor-Generals on the one hand and the auditors on the other hand. In this paper, we attempt to explain why this opposition occurred. A five year case study of the formation of the Swedish NAO has been conducted. Internal documents have also be scrutinized, as well as employee attitude surveys. It is concluded that the status of the auditor at the Swedish NAO has been hollowed out and hierarchy has increased. It is also noted that there has been a long-lasting dispute over what kind of audits should be conducted, where the Auditor-Generals have attempted to transform the previous audit approach with an approach more similar to compliance audit. Auditors have consistently objected, but some critics have been met with sanctions. In a recent parliamentary commission the argument raised by auditors was supported and the Auditor-Generals were requested to align. The study shows how the independence of the NAO is jeopardized with the de-professionalization of auditors and it also illustrates how professional and cultural factors may harm the outcome of public sector reform.},
  author       = {Shirin, Ahlbäck Öberg and Bringselius, Louise},
  keyword      = {National audit,NAO,profession,professionalization,auditor,Riksrevisionenm SAI},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {The New NAO in Sweden – the Deprofession-alization of the Performance Auditor},
  year         = {2010},
}