A comprehensive system for protecting soft targets against terrorist attacks is still missing in the Czech Republic

Press release on audit No 21/21 – 11 July 2022

The SAO examined how the Ministries of the Interior (MoI), Culture (MoC) and Health (MoH) allocated State funds to the system of protection of soft targets (e.g. schools and public spaces, hospitals or cultural facilities) from terrorism and other types of attacks between the years 2016 and 2021. The auditors focused not only on how subsidies were allocated, but also on how the Ministries managed to meet the set objectives or to assess the impact of the allocated funds. Although the Czech Republic has been dealing with this issue since 2010, the Ministries have not started to provide financial aid in areas which are aimed at protecting soft targets and thus enabling them to react in the event of an attack in a way that would minimise damage. The audit therefore showed that the planned system of comprehensive protection of soft targets has not yet been drawn up by the Ministry of the Interior.

In the year 2017, the Concept for the protection of soft targets in the period 2017-2020 was approved. Its aim was to create a functioning system in the Czech Republic through which it would be possible to respond in a flexible and rapid manner to threats of attacks. Almost more than two years later, the three Ministries started to provide financial aid to so-called non-investment programmes. Their main purpose was to produce security analyses and documentation to enhance soft target protection and to organise training events and seminars. This was then to be followed up by targeted investments as of 2021. All of this was to lead to the creation of a national comprehensive system for the protection of soft targets. However, this goal has not yet been achieved.

The problem has started at the point of designing the concept for the years 2017 to 2020, where the MoI did not set measurable targets which it envisioned to achieve. By the end of the SAO audit, the MoI had not evaluated this concept, nor had it developed the planned follow-up concept for the years 2021 to 2023.

Weaknesses in the implementation of non-investment programmes have also affected the current state of affairs. Between 2019 and 2021, the Ministries spent a total of CZK 194 million on them out of the planned CZK 347 million. However, the MoI distributed funds regardless of the actual needs identified beforehand. Although the MoC and the MoH initially set up a plan to increase the protection of selected priority soft targets according to actual needs; they had selected 46 hospitals and 57 cultural establishments for non-investment programmes, however, they later abandoned the project by extending the number of beneficiaries. Nevertheless, a total of CZK 153 million was left unused out of the allocated funds.

The auditors also looked at the way in which the Ministries allocated subsidies and how they selected specific projects. For example, it was revealed that the MoC and the MoH did not set financial limits in 2019 and did not assess the adequacy of prices, which led to, inter alia, significant price differences. For example, in 2019, the MoC provided a grant amounting to CZK 623,000 for a risk analysis of a theatre building and CZK 1.2 million for risk analysis of a library. In 2020, it set a maximum limit of CZK 350,000 for the processing of similar analyses. And the beneficiaries have always managed to comply with this financial limit. Not even in the context of non-investment programmes, did the Ministries set specific and measurable objectives that they wished to achieve and which they would then evaluate. So, for example, the Ministries do not know the number of soft targets whose protection was strengthened.

Communication Department
Supreme Audit Office

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