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FSD2042 Auditing Committees and Finnish Municipal Democracy 2003

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Authors

  • Holttinen, Jari (University of Tampere. Department of Political Science and International Relations)
  • Ruostetsaari, Ilkka (University of Tampere. Department of Political Science and International Relations)

Keywords

councillors, decision making, evaluation, local finance, local government, local government officers, public administration

Abstract

According to the Local Government Act of 1995, auditing committees prepare matters related to audits of the administration and finances for decisions made by the municipal council. The committee also assesses whether operational and financial targets set by the council have been achieved. This survey charted elected officials' opinions on how the status and duties of auditing committees had formed in municipalities of different size and location.

First, the respondents were asked whether the council had set clear operational and financial targets, whether goals set in the budget had been taken into consideration in municipal management and whether citizens received enough information on these goals. They were also asked to state what the operational targets were based on, for example, demand analysis of municipal bodies, proposals made by municipal executive board or established budgeting practices. The respondents also evaluated how much influence different bodies had over municipal decision-making. These bodies included council, executive board, committees, senior office-holders, municipal organisations of parties and party blocs. The study explored perceptions of how much councillors received information on the success of operations and achievement of targets from different sources, such as the media, the reports of the municipal executive board, auditing committee and municipal committees.

The activities of auditing committees and municipal auditors were charted with a set of attitudinal statements. The questions covered the auditing committee's expertise, resources, reporting practices and autonomy from the rest of the municipal organisation. The respondents further analysed whether the auditing committee's reports should be more extensive, critical, and readable and include more comparison materials, suggestions and initiatives. The survey also examined who or what municipal body benefited the most from the municipal committee's activities.

In conclusion, the respondents' opinions on problems related to the auditing committee and its actions were studied. They were asked whether the committee attended too much to the duties of the auditor and whether it expressed its opinion on decision-making and administrative matters too much. The respondents assessed how cooperation between municipal council and auditing committee could be improved. Open-ended questions charted the possible overlapping duties of the municipal council, executive board, auditor, internal audit and management group. The respondents' opinions on the status of the auditing committee in their municipality and nationwide development needs of auditing committees were examined. Background variables included the respondent's municipality of residence, elective offices, gender, year of birth, basic and vocational education and occupation.

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