Technical Articles



International Journal of Auditing – July 2003

The Creation of a New Swedish SAI

On July 1, 2003, Riksrevisionen – a new Swedish state audit institution with three Auditors General – replaced Riksrevisionsverket and the Parliamentary Auditors. The staff of both these organizations will together constitute the staff of Riksrevisionen, which will be the supreme audit institution of Sweden, keeping the English name formerly used in the international context, the Swedish National Audit Office.

Riksrevisionen Sees the Light of Day

The birth of Riksrevisonen, the new Swedish National Audit Office, constitutes a drastic change in the role and position of the Swedish state audit.

The question of transferring complete responsibility for the state audit institution from the Government to the Parliament has been debated by the Swedish Parliament in different contexts since the 1980s.

However, in 1998 the Parliament set up a commission, called the Parliamentary Commission (Riksdagskommittén), to review the Parliament’s capacity for follow-up, evaluation, and audit. A reference group, with members from all political parties represented in Parliament, worked with this commission on auditing issues. Its work mainly focused on how an audit institution could be guaranteed the highest possible independence in its operations. The reference group was also to decide whether the Government or the Parliament should be this institution’s Principal.

In its report, the commission suggested that in the future, the state audit function report directly to the Parliament. A single Auditor General, elected by the Parliament, would be head of this state audit institution and the official duties should be stipulated in the constitution. The Auditor General would then report to a Parliamentary Board, which would decide on the budget and the financial statements and report on results. It should also determine what audit conclusions are to be submitted to the Parliament. During the fall of 2000, the Standing Committee on the Constitution prepared the Parliamentary Commission’s proposal.

However, a political compromise led to the decision to appoint three Auditors General instead of one. This sprang from the belief in spreading out the mandate that this position will hold. The three are to be elected by the Parliament for 7-year terms. To create an initial overlap in the terms, the first three Auditors General have been appointed for different lengths of time: Ms. Eva Lindström—7 years, Mr. Lennart Grufberg—5 years, and Mr. Kjell Larsson—3 years.

In December 2000, the Parliament unanimously approved the proposal to set up a new Swedish SAI under the name of Riksrevisionen to be led by three Auditors General.

Riksrevisionen started operating on July 1, 2003, and will considerably strengthen the Parliament’s control power.

The Role of Riksrevisionen

This new SAI will audit the complete activity of the state and thus help maximize resources and promote efficiency.

As a major component of parliamentary oversight, the new SAI will have an important role in the democratic system. Its main task will be to fulfill the mission given to it by the Parliament to control the use of tax revenues.

Riksrevisionen will have an independent position guaranteed by the constitution. Accordingly, the three Auditors General will decide for each of their areas of responsibility what audits to take on, how to carry them out, and what conclusions to draw from them. They will together agree on matters of mutual internal interest, such
as audit and action plans and administrative issues of the organization.

This independent state audit organization will have a similar position to that of
national audit institutions in most other countries with an Auditor General system.

The Parliament and the Government will be the most important recipients of the results of the Riksrevisionen’s work, audit reports, and conclusions. In this way, the politicians will have the opportunity to use the audit conclusions of Riksrevisionen in the political decision-making process.

Vision

The new Riksrevisionen’s goal is to maintain and develop the good characteristics of its two predecessors and become a supreme audit institution carrying the stamp of professionalism, integrity, and a new spirit – an organization with an impeccable reputation both nationally and internationally!

Main Tasks of the New Organization

The main tasks of Riksrevisionen will be to continue carrying out financial and performance audits. Riksrevisionen will succeed Riksrevisionsverket as a member of INTOSAI and EUROSAI and will also continue other international operations.

The primary aim in gathering the state audit resources under the Parliament has been to create a state audit covering the complete chain of decision-making and operations within the executive branch of the state. Riksrevisionen will have the mandate to audit the activities carried out by the Government but may not audit the official duties performed by the Ministers. This will remain a task for the Standing Committee on the Constitution.

The Organization

The chart on page 14 shows the organization of the Riksrevisionen. It will consist of six departments for financial auditing and six for performance auditing. There will be three main areas where audits will be carried out:

  • public safety, coordination, and administration of finance;
  • welfare and health; and
  • education and development.

The responsibility for these areas will circulate among the Auditors General, who will be actively involved in the auditing process within their areas of responsibility. Each Auditor General’s main area of responsibility consists of two financial audit departments and two performance audit departments. The area of responsibility for each performance audit department will be reflected in a corresponding department for financial audit.

Riksrevisionen will also have three special divisions: the international division, the quality and methods division, and the division for the audit of public companies and special audits.

Riksrevisionen Organizational Chart

Riksrevisionen Organizational Chart

The international division will coordinate the SAI’s international engagements, including international assignments in the areas of capacity building or external audit of international organizations.

The quality and methods division will be responsible for the development and management of the processes for quality assurance as well as development of methods and support for these areas within both financial and performance audits.

The division for the audit of public companies and special audits will be responsible for audits of state-owned companies and will take part in more in-depth audits of essential problem areas.

Riksrevisionen will also have a number of support divisions to assist in the daily administration of the organization.

The Advisory Board of Riksrevisionen

The Parliament has appointed an advisory board for the Swedish National Audit Office consisting of 11 sitting members and 11 deputy members. The current members of the advisory board, who were appointed in March 2003, are all, or have been, Members of Parliament.