Political accountability and performance audit: the case of the auditor general in Norway
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Performance audit is widely used in public administration, but, at present, little empirical evidence exists on its usefulness and contribution to accountability. Based on survey data from 353 civil servants in Norway, this article analyzes the auditees' perceptions of the audit. Performance audit was seen as useful by a majority of the auditees. If auditees agreed to audit criteria and assessments, were allowed to influence the process, had favourable opinions of the reports, and believed that the State Audit Institution contributed to accountability and improvement, then they regarded it as useful. Reports used for accountability purposes were not perceived as less useful. The auditees' administrative level, the use of the report to further interests, and attention from politicians, the media, and the Parliament impacted on the accountability dimension. These results indicate that performance audit can influence civil servants, but the influence is contingent on how the audited civil servants perceive the performance audit.
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