Citizen participation #tell_us (#zeigenSieauf)
The ACA keeps a close watch on taxpayers’ money. It assesses whether it is used economically, efficiently and effectively. Since 2017, the ACA has encouraged citizens to submit their audit suggestions every summer in the framework of several initiatives.
We audit the entire state economy: on the federal, provincial and municipal level, our auditees are namely public entities, institutions, foundations, funds as well as companies in which the state holds at least 50 per cent. Overall, more than 6,000 entities fall within the ACA’s audit remit. You can find the entire list of the legal entities subject to the ACA’s audits here. The ACA’s auditors’ repertoire is extensive: Wherever taxpayers’ money is at stake, the ACA takes action: from A like Abfallwirtschaft (waste management) to Z like Zahnmedizin (dentistry). In order to provide a better overview, we have created the following graph that depicts our audit areas:
Why are we interested in your concerns?
The ACA works independently and objectively. It determines its audit programme itself. Research, preceding audits and media reports are some of the ways to identify subject matters. Each audit starts with the audit planning. During the selection of audit topics we pay special attention to:
- risk potential
- levels of expenditure
- changes of key parameters
- current events
- special public interest
- preventive effects
How can you submit your suggestion to the ACA?
Please note that not every indication leads to a (stand-alone) audit. As shown by the past, audit suggestions often cover a part of a planned audit and are thus integrated in our audit programme. You can send us your audit suggestions via email to email@example.com, by post to Rechnungshof Österreich, reference: "Citizen Participation", Dampfschiffstrasse 2, 1030 Vienna, or via a direct Facebook message at @rechnungshofat.
What happens with your suggestions?
First, we examine whether your suggestion falls within our audit remit. Your suggestion is then presented to the auditors in the framework of the ACA's big planning conference in autumn. Taking into account the above-mentioned criteria, we decide whether your suggestion feeds into our audit programme. If your suggestion does not fall within our audit remit, we will inform you about that. Around a quarter of the ACA audits planned for 2019 included suggestions of citizens.
When will you learn whether your suggestion was included in our audit programme?
Please kindly understand that we do not provide information about ongoing and planned audits. You will learn whether your audit has been included in our audit programme after our audit report is published on our website. You can find more information about our audit process here. Of importance is the fact that our own standards, as well as the international standards to which we are committed, require precise research and balanced fact-finding. We study files on site at the audited entities, conduct extensive (data) analyses and interviews. In addition, the audited entities have a three-month period in which they can present their views on our audit findings. Only then is the report finalized by our auditors. This way we can ensure that we provide you a true and fair view.
Which audits are based on citizens’ suggestions?
On this page (rechnungshof.gv.at/buergerbeteiligung) we keep you up to date on our citizen participation initiative. We inform you about the audits that were suggested by citizens, for example the report "Stadtwerke Klagenfurt Aktiengesellschaft". The audit of the Stadtwerke Klagenfurt is based on a citizen's suggestion to assess the planning of the indoor swimming pool in Klagenfurt and the high related costs.
Another suggestion concerned the audit of the construction project "House of Music in Innsbruck". The audit focused, among others, on the schedule and cost development, the awarding of contracts as well as on fire safety and accessibility.
The audit "Interpreting and Translation Services at the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Ministry of Justice" is also based on suggestions submitted in the framework of the citizen participation initiative. Therein, the ACA criticized the lacking cooperation of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Ministry of Justice as regards interpreting services. In this report published in 2020, the ACA furthermore pointed to the remuneration of interpreters: it was in 2007 that the remuneration fees were last adapted to the economic conditions.
The added value for citizens as an audit priority
As part of its audit priority, the ACA places an increased focus on the added value created for citizen. One of the corresponding audits in 2020 was, for example, the "Coordination of Quality Labels for Food Products“. In this report, the ACA criticized the lacking transparency and an insufficient strategy against a possible deception and misleading of consumers. It furthermore pointed to a lack of mandatory minimum requirements for privately initiated quality labels.
In its same-named report, the ACA carried out a comprehensive, nationwide analysis of "Old-Age Care in Austria“. A good third of old-age care is – as acknowledged by the ACA – rendered privately, namely by family members. Due to the average ageing of the population, the ACA saw a need for action, in the medium term, with regard to public care services.
In the course of the audit "Austrian Broadcasting Corporation: Consolidation of Locations – First Construction Phase", the ACA revealed that the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) took the decision regarding the merging of all ORF headquarters at the Küniglberg without carrying out a comprehensive analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of a new construction beforehand.
The audit of the modernization of the U4 underground line also focused on the benefit for citizens. The Wiener Linien assumed its function as builder-owner in a proactive manner. However, in its report "Wiener Linien – Modernization of the U4 Underground Line" the ACA highlighted that the modernization of the infrastructure itself will boost the reliability of the U4 line only to a limited extent.
In its report "Quality Assurance for Independent Health Practicioners", the ACA recommended, in the interest of the patients, to ensure a complete evaluation of the quality of surgeries.
With about EUR 926.1 million, the expenditure for dental care was one of the three largest private health expenditures, along with expenditure for old-age care and medicines. The reason behind this was the fact that a modern overall contract has not yet been concluded. The ACA unveiled this in its report "Medical Care in Dentistry“.
Problems related to tariff structures were revealed in the report "Ticket Sales System of the Federal Passenger Transport Company (ÖBB–Personenverkehr AG)“. The ACA’s conclusion: an effective untangling of the complex fare structures would increase the transparency of ticket prices in the interest of the passengers.
The report "Day Care for Pupils“ showed that the fragmentation of competences resulted in different parental contributions for school day care and after-school care. The range of parental contributions was between EUR 137.80 (general compulsory school in the city of Salzburg) and EUR 227.17 (municipal after-school care in Vienna).
The audit "Traunseetram", too, was suggested by citizens. With the Traunseetram – created by connecting the tramway Gmunden with the local train Gmunden-Vorchdorf – a modern, barrier-free and efficient means of public transport was put into operation in 2018. By this, the provision of public transport facilities could be increased by one third. However, according to the view of the ACA, the number of passengers who, based on a forecast, would select the tramway as a means of transport should have been considered as too low.
In the framework of the audit "Obstetric Care in Lower Austria and Vienna“, the ACA pointed to indications made by citizens on the occasion of the citizen participation initiative in 2017. In the audit report, the ACA reveals shortages in the provision of intensive care services for newborns. The shortages are both due to the hospital bed capacities as well as to the lack of medical professionals. Also as regards the transport of newborns to a neonatology unit – i.e. a hospital unit specialized in newborn medicine – specially trained accompanying medical staff was partly lacking. For this audit, the ACA took into account suggestions of citizens submitted in the framework of the ACA's citizen participation initiative 2017.
The audit "Municipality of Seekirchen am Wallersee" is also based on the citizen participation initiative. The suggestion received by the ACA to assess the purchase of the Hofwirt restaurant by the municipality of Seekirchen am Wallersee was taken into account during the audit.
The audit suggestion brought forward by citizens concerning differing framework conditions for kindergartens in the provinces was taken into account for the audit of "Early Language Support in Kindergartens". The COVID-19 pandemic shines a stark light on the existing differences in this area.