A total of CZK 5.1 billion spent on disaster management: due to the hesitation of the Ministry of the Interior, the police did not purchase necessary equipment
Press release on audit No 22/14 – 22 May 2023
The Supreme Audit Office (SAO) verified how the Ministry of Regional Development (MoRD), the Ministry of the Interior (MoI) and nine selected beneficiaries spent funds, between the years 2018 and 2022, from the European Union and the state budget earmarked to increase the preparedness for addressing and managing risks and disasters. A total of CZK 5.1 billion was drawn from the Integrated Regional Operational Programme (IROP) between 2015 and 2022. According to the auditors’ findings, the MoRD set the objectives of the aid without knowing the needs of the units of the integrated rescue system (IRS) – i.e. the Police of the Czech Republic (Czech Police), the Fire Rescue Service of the Czech Republic, the Voluntary Fire Service and the emergency medical service. The MoRD had set the monitoring of the objectives in such a way that it was unable to assess the true benefits of the funds spent to meet the basic needs of the IRS. The auditors also found that the MoI had not defined the current needs of the Czech Police in time, therefore the Police were unable to acquire necessary equipment.
The funds were used under three IROP calls focusing on the areas of the IRS: the acquisition of equipment, the upgrading of educational and training centres and the modernisation of stations to strengthen their resilience in emergency conditions. A total of 293 projects were supported – mainly those of the Fire Rescue Service of the Czech Republic.
The auditors revealed that the MoI had failed to define the current needs of the Czech Police in time, therefore the Czech Police were unable to acquire necessary equipment. After updating its needs and the submission of applications for financial support, the funds allocated for the acquisition of equipment were already exhausted by other units of the IRS. However, the Czech Police submitted 10 applications for aid totalling approximately CZK 170 million, e.g. for the acquisition of thermal vision technology, heavy terrain vehicles, microbuses for the transport of persons or technical facilities for service dogs. An overview of the projects and the amount of funds drawn to provide equipment for the IRS shows that the Fire Rescue Service carried out 171 projects amounting to CZK 1,658 million; on the part of the Czech Police no funds were drawn. The emergency medical service carried out two projects with a total value of CZK 101 million. In 2019, the SAO pointed out in its audit No 19/261, that the MoI failed to utilise EU funds in other areas of aid (e.g. cyber security).
Furthermore, SAO’s audit also showed that the MoRD had set the objectives of the aid without knowing the needs of the units of the IRS. For example, it set the objective of modernizing 86 buildings based on documents that did not contain all the needs of the IRS, for example the buildings of the voluntary fire brigades which were chosen to strengthen their resilience. Thus, according to the auditors, the method of distribution and the subsequent drawing of funds cannot meet one of the objectives of the aid, namely the objective of achieving “full preparedness in exposed areas” on the part of the IRS.
Another finding is that the MoRD has set the monitoring of the objectives and impacts of the aid in such a manner that it is unable to assess the true benefit of the funds spent. For example, in the case of the methodology for calculating the fulfilment of the indicator “preparedness of IRS units”, the person receiving the training was counted in more than once depending on the number of trainings they received. While this methodology reports on the number of (including duplicative) completions of teaching and training courses, it does not indicate the extent to which these activities contribute to better preparedness for addressing and managing risks and disasters. The incorrectly set rules for monitoring can also be documented by the fact that the MoRD fulfilled this indicator at almost 200 % as early as two years before the end of the programming period. Weaknesses in the setting of objectives and difficulties in evaluating them have been repeatedly pointed out by the SAO in its other completed audits2.
During an audit of nine beneficiaries (12 projects), the SAO found that the beneficiaries had used funds effectively, economically, efficiently and in accordance with the law. The supported activities on the part of the selected beneficiaries generally contributed to achieving better protection of life, health, property and economic activities in the context of new risks and climate change.
1] Audit report on audit No 19/26 – Building the National Cyber security of the Czech Republic; the audit report was published in the SAO Bulletin 6/2020.
2] Audit report on audit No 22/04 – Funds from the Integrated Regional Operational Programme intended to support regional health care infrastructure; the audit report was published in the SAO Bulletin 1/2023.