Performance audit and the importance of the public debate
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The purpose of this article is to explore the impact of performance audit on public policy. The article investigates performance audit reports and the debates they initiate in the public realm. The case of Norway is analysed using mixed methods including a questionnaire, mapping and categorizing of reports, document studies and interviews. The results show that the Norwegian Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) is primarily preoccupied with managerial issues. It is nevertheless open to interpretation whether the preoccupation with managerial issues primarily implies an efficiency and effectiveness focus or an assessment of compliance to managerial standards. Most reports get moderate attention in the media and in the parliamentary control committee. Therefore the direct dialogue with the ministries becomes important for the performance audits’ influence. In the public debate the SAI, the ministries and the members of parliament base their argumentation in different institutional logics. These logics can lead to different interpretations of the control system, laws and regulations and hamper the State Audit Institution’s influence.