Institutions of the Parliament

There are three special institutions affiliated with the Danish Parliament: the Public Accounts Committee, the Auditor General’s Office and the Ombudsman.

Større

 

The Public Accounts Committee, the Auditor General’s Office and the Ombudsman are funded by the Parliament and included in its budget, but all three institutions are independent of the Parliament.

The Public Accounts Committee

The Public Accounts Committee consists of six people appointed by the Parliament. Some of them are Members of Parliament, others are not. The Public Accounts Committee reviews the annual report of the Auditor General’s Office and present their findings to the Parliament. In addition, the Public Accounts Committee can ask the Auditor General’s Office to investigate various matters and, if necessary, criticise the relevant authorities on the basis of such investigation.

The Auditor General’s Office

The Auditor General’s Office constitutes a completely independent auditing authority that audits the state's accounts to prevent errors and to make sure that the state's finances are spent in the best possible way. The Auditor General of Denmark, who is appointed by the Speaker of the Parliament on the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee, is the head of the Auditor General’s Office.

The Ombudsman

The Ombudsman is elected by the Parliament, which also determines his/her salary and competences. However, the Ombudsman works independently of the Parliament when exercising control over state, municipal and other public administrative authorities on behalf of the public.

The Public Accounts Committee makes sure that taxpayers' money is spent the way the Parliament intended, and that the money is managed as efficiently as possible.
 
Portraits of the Auditors of Public Accounts

Who are the members of the Public Accounts Committee?

The members of the Public Accounts Committee are appointed by the Parliament. They may be Members of Parliament and in many cases they are. There must be at least four and at most six members. The members of the Public Accounts Committee are appointed by Parliament every 4 years.

The tasks of the Public Accounts Committee

The tasks of the Public Accounts Committee include reviewing the state's accounts, checking that the accounts have been kept correctly and making sure that there is an appropriation for all of the money the state has spent. The Committee performs these tasks in close cooperation with the Auditor General’s Office, who does most of the auditing. 

The Public Accounts Committee is the only authority that can call upon the Auditor General’s Office to perform certain auditing tasks. The staff at the Auditor General’s Office respond to the requests from the Public Accounts Committee in the form of reports and memorandums. The principal task of the members of the Public Accounts Committee is thus to read the reports and memorandums they receive from the Auditor General’s Office and to provide the Parliament with a review of their contents. The Public Accounts Committee issues approximately 25 reviews each year.
 
In addition, the Public Accounts Committee issues a report on the audit of the state's accounts each year. The report contains the statements of the Auditor General’s Office regarding the financial audit of each individual ministerial area as well as a number of interdisciplinary investigations and declarations. 
 
The Public Accounts Committee concludes its audit of the state's accounts by publishing a report, which contains a follow-up on reports from the past year, Ministers' statements on the contents of the report, the memorandums of the Auditor General’s Office and remarks from the Public Accounts Committee. The state's accounts can then be forwarded to the Parliament for approval. 
 

Contact

 

Gitte Korff
Head of Secretariat 
MSc Political Science 
Telephone: + 45 3337 5985    

Morten Brædstrup-Holm
Deputy Head of Secretariat 
MA Social Science 
Telephone: + 45 3337 5995    

Jannie Sølvsteen
Principal Secretary 
Secretarial Certificate 
Telephone: + 45 3337 5988    

The staff at the Auditor General’s Office are the Parliament's accountants: they audit the state’s accounts to prevent errors and to make sure that the state’s finances are spent in the best possible way.

The Auditor General’s staff review the state's accounts

Each year, the Ministry of Finance prepares a combined set of accounts for the Danish state. These are known as the state's accounts and are based on the accounts from all the ministries. These accounts must be presented to the Parliament before the end of June, but usually it takes about 18 months before the Parliament approves them. This is due to the fact that the state's accounts – just like the accounts of private companies – must first be audited by accountants. This is the job of the Auditor General’s Office.

The Auditor General’s staff issue an annual report

When the Auditor General’s staff have finished auditing the state's accounts, they issue a report about the audit, which is then forwarded to the Auditors of Public Accounts, a group of six people appointed by Parliament for a period of four years. The Auditors of Public Accounts review the report and present a final report on the state's accounts to the Parliament, which then either approves or rejects the accounts. In this way, the audit procedure is divided between the civil servants who work for the Auditor General’s Office, the politically-elected Auditors of Public Accounts and Members of Parliament.

Independence is the key word 

Although the Office of the Auditor General is an institution under the Parliament, it is independent of the Government and the Parliament. This means that no Minister or Member of Parliament can influence the audit of the state's accounts. Independence is thus the key word for the Auditor General’s staff in relation to the areas they choose to investigate and the methods they employ to do so. The Auditors of Public Accounts is the only authority entitled to ask the Auditor General’s staff to investigate a given area. When such an investigation has been completed, the Auditors of Public Accounts can make critical statements and talk to the press and public about any initiatives that will follow from the conclusions of the investigation. The work carried out by the Auditor General’s staff thus helps to ensure democratic control and promote efficient, ethical public administration.

External links


The website of the Auditor General's Office

Danish citizens can complain to the Ombudsman of the Danish Parliament if they believe that a public authority has broken the law or made a mistake in their handling of a case.
The Ombudsman is elected by the Danish Parliament but is an independent authority.

What does the Ombudsman do?

Citizens can complain to the Ombudsman if they believe that a ministry or a municipality has made an incorrect decision. Every year the Ombudsman receives around 4,000 complaints from people who believe that authorities have committed errors. However, there are limitations as to what matters the Ombudsman may investigate. For instance, it is not possible to complain about an Act passed by the Parliament or about a decision made by a court of law. 

The Ombudsman can also look into matters on his/her own initiative and implement a general investigation into an authority's administrative procedures. Furthermore, he/she can inspect public institutions and workplaces such as county gaols and psychiatric hospitals. 

If the Ombudsman expresses criticism in connection with a given issue, the authorities almost always take note of this criticism, but they are not obliged to heed the Ombudsman's recommendations and statements.

Jørgen Steen SørensenThe present Ombudsman is Jørgen Steen Sørensen.

Report from the Ombudsman

Each year in September or October, the Ombudsman submits a report to the Parliament, describing a number of selected issues he/she has taken up during the course of the year. The report is followed by a hearing in the Legal Affairs Committee, which is open to anyone interested.

The first Ombudsman

The option of complaining to the Ombudsman about Danish authorities and their management was not always open to Danish citizens. It was not until the amendment of the Constitutional Act in 1953 that the institution of the Ombudsman was established. Professor Stephan Hurwitz became Denmark's first Ombudsman in 1955.

External links


The website of the Danish Parliamentary Ombudsman