Costs of external legal and consulting services for the Ministry of the Environment increased by 100 % in two years
Press Release – January 27, 2014
The Supreme Audit Office (SAO) performed an audit of the Ministry of the Environment and its management within the period 2010–2012. Auditors scrutinized utilisation of the State budget funds and assets in the amount of CZK 133.6 million.
Auditors revealed that the Ministry’s expenses on external legal and consulting services rapidly increased during the audited period. In 2010, the costs amounted to CZK 23.3 million, CZK 34.8 million in 2011, and nearly CZK 48 million in 2012. In 2011 and 2012, the Ministry paid CZK 848,000 to two experts for media services in spite there were 25 employees in the Minister’s Cabinet and in the press and marketing department, who were responsible for this agenda. In 2011, the Ministry paid CZK 240,000 to a company that charged from CZK 5 878 to CZK 12 747 an hour for external legal services. The Ministry failed to document that the order had been supplied.
Auditors also scrutinized expenses on wages as well as numbers of job positions at the Ministry of the Environment. Currently, there are around 600 job positions at the Ministry. During the audited period, the Ministry dismissed 427 employees and paid them severances in the amount of CZK 18.4 million. At the same time, 318 new employees were hired. The number of contracts with external workers increased extensively. In the period 2010–2012, the Ministry made contracts with 346 external workers with remunerations in the total amount of nearly CZK 18 million. Costs of external workers increased rapidly: the increase made 90 % between years 2011 and 2012. In some cases, external workers did ordinary administrative tasks, which could have been done by the Ministry’s own employees.
Auditors revealed some uneconomic transactions of the Ministry. For example the purchase of 73 photo frames, which cost CZK 113,000 in total. The price of the frames varied from CZK 592 to CZK 14,760. During the auditing operation, only six frames were used, 64 were in the storeroom, and three frames were not found.
Auditors also aimed at expenses of sociable events organized by the Ministry. In 2010, the Ministry paid nearly CZK 2 million for children’s Christmas parties organized in Prague and Ostrava. The contracts and invoices did not include list of items ordered and paid by the Ministry, or other relevant information (number of attendees and the like).
Auditors also revealed errors in the accounting, inventorying, and renting agreements concerning non-residential premises at the Ministry’s headquarters.
In three cases, which were calculated in the amount of CZK 4 million, the auditors stated that the budgetary regulations had been violated and the competent financial authorities were informed.
For further details about auditing operation No. 13/07 (in Czech only), see the following link: http://www.nku.cz/assets/media/informace-13-07.pdf.
Supreme Audit Office