It is unclear how funds spent on migration policy helped. Specific impacts of aid are not monitored by the Ministry
Press Release on audit No 20/10 – 7 June 2021
The SAO examined the funds spent by the State between 2017 and 2019 on four selected migration policy programmes. During his period, the Ministry of the Interior (MoI) spent CZK 900 million from the state budget and EU funds on these programmes. The audit focused on projects amounting to almost CZK 557 million which were, for example, aimed at protecting the EU’s borders, supporting the asylum system, or integrating foreign nationals into society. The specific benefits of financial support for migration policy were not clear. The MoI set objectives only in general terms and without indicators that would show what had improved. In addition, the audit identified several weaknesses in the projects examined, most of which should have already been detected by the MoI during the evaluation and selection of projects eligible for support.
In its policy papers on migration policy, the MoI had mostly set objectives that were only general. It did not identify indicators and their expected values against which to verify what improved and whether the programme was achieving its objectives. As a result, some areas will not be subject to the Ministry’s assessment. For example, in the case of the integration of foreign nationals, it set non-specific objectives such as “promoting non-conflict cohabitation with foreigners” or “ensuring the security of all inhabitants of the Czech Republic”. For example, external migration to the EU has the objective of “combating irregular migration”.
Both state institutions and non-profit organisations received funds for their projects. For the audited projects, the MoI did not require beneficiaries to assess their results and benefits. As a result, beneficiaries of grants mostly monitored outputs, such as the number of people assisted. However, they did not try to find out whether and how the services, provided under the project, contributed, for example, to the integration of foreign nationals into society. On the contrary, an example of good practice was the practice of a non-profit organisation that retrospectively verified the benefits of its services to clients, even though the Ministry had not asked it to do so.
In several of the audited internal security projects, the auditors identified significant weaknesses. For example, in the case of the common communication centre for the police and customs worth CZK 120 million, the cost per item repeatedly changed without clear justification. In addition, the beneficiary prepared the project documentation, interior design or technical specifications of hardware and software only after the project had been approved. This indicates a lack of project preparation and the risk of wasteful spending of state money. A similar problem was detected by the auditors in the case of the reconstruction of a building in Havířov used to accommodate applicants for international protection. Here, the beneficiary — Refugee Facilities Administration (RFA) — underestimated the preparation of the project. As a result, the cost of the reconstruction reached CZK 57 million at the time of the audit, which was more than twice the original budget.
The Ministry of the Interior also did not monitor the average cost per client for the supported activities for the integration of foreign nationals. For example, the price of Czech language lessons ranged from CZK 2 600 to CZK 6 700. Although the demands of individual clients are different, the MoI should have an overview of average costs and should be able to compare projects among themselves. Moreover, beneficiaries were not obliged to monitor the actual costs of individual project activities. The MoI only asked for an estimate of the costs which beneficiaries indicated in the grant application. Thus, the Ministry does not have data according to which it can assess the effectiveness of the projects supported. This weakness concerned 14 of the 20 projects audited.
The auditors also found weaknesses in the State Integration Programme, which is provided by the Refugee Facilities Administration for the Ministry of the Interior. Also, in this case, the objectives were only general without measurable indicators. Neither the MoI nor the RFA addressed how the projects helped to integrate their clients successfully. The RFA always respected the financial limits of the so-called integration plans and, with one exception, paid for purchases of goods in accordance with the overview issued by the MoI. However, without on-the-spot verification of clients’ needs, it could not determine whether it had been paying for household equipment needed.
In the case of the programme aimed at assisting refugees in their regions of origin, the audit highlighted the problem of unclear rules on how to spend money. In the contracts with the countries concerned, the MoI did not define the parameters of the project, such as what exactly was to be purchased for the money provided. There were differences in contract types and there were no uniform conditions for the use of money that would allow the MoI to better influence the success of the projects. In addition, the MoI provided the Czech Government with incomplete information on projects that had not yet been completed. There was a lack of specific data on these projects, as well as information on problems with their completion. Since 2015, the MoI has not carried out any impact assessment of these projects.
Supreme Audit Office