The Dutch national auditor has criticised Nato for not having its administration in order and for not being transparent about its spending. In a letter to parliament, the national auditor says the Netherlands and other Nato member countries do not know how much money goes to the organisation each year or what happens to that money.
The administrative backlog dates back decades and matters are not helped by Nato's habit of labelling much of its expenditure 'undisclosed'.
The national auditor has been warning parliament about the situation nearly every year since 2007.
“There is no certainty about expenditure or accountability for the billions of euros provided for military and civilian aims,” the auditor says. “Nato is financed by public money and must be properly accountable for what it spends.”
It has now opened a website in English, www.courtofaudit.nl/english/nato-transparency
, where it has published all the public information it has about Nato finances. (ends)
Thematic Website Shows NATO's Limited Transparency and Public Accountability for Its Expenses
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) shows limited transparency about its spending and is also hardly publicly accountable for investments and other expenses. Public information about NATO’s budgets and results is scarce because most of the information is classified. As for military spending, this makes sense.
However, NATO gives hardly any account to the public of its non-military expenses, such as the expenditure for the office of the Secretary General and other NATO entities. Another fact is that NATO´s financial management is not in order. There is therefore no clear answer to the question: is NATO delivering value for the taxpayers’ money?
Consequently, citizens and parliaments of member countries, including The Netherlands, are not able to monitor whether their contributions to the NATO alliance result in an efficient international organization.
These statements are issued by the Netherlands Court of Audit (NCA) on 10 June 2014 and are based on an analysis of publicly available sources of NATO and its member countries. The NCA has collected this public information on a thematic website: www.rekenkamer.nl/english/nato-transparency
The NCA considers it NATO’s responsibility to undertake action for publishing consistent accounting information. To our knowledge the Dutch government and Parliament are also in favour of this goal.
Ms Saskia J. Stuiveling, President of the NCA: “We are an advocate of transparency and accountability for all public expenditures, including those of NATO. There is a lot of overdue maintenance to be done to NATO´s financial management. With the publication of its thematic website the NCA hopes to boost the debate for improving NATO’s public accountability. This strengthens Parliament and the Government that seek to improve NATO’s public accountability. It may also contribute to a greater understanding and thus a fact based debate about the efficiency and effectiveness of NATO.”
From hundreds of investment projects, some of which date from before 1994, the accounts have not been closed. In order to tackle this issue together with other Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs), everyone in their own country, the NCA examined the NATO Security Investment Programme’s projects (NSIP) executed and managed by the Dutch Ministry of Defence. This was part of NCA’s regularity audit 2013 of the Dutch Ministry of Defence.
The Netherlands is implementing 51 NSIP projects worth € 69 million. NCA examined how the Ministry of Defence administered these NSIP projects and found no evidence that the NSIP project portfolio showed any indication of not being in order. NCA will encourage other Supreme Audit Institutions to perform a similar investigation in their country.
The accountability information of dozens of NATO entities is fragmented. It is therefore desired that NATO publishes a consolidated financial statement and provides insight into its deliveries and investments.
Other SAIs have contributed to the information on the website by providing publicly available information on NATO in their countries. The NCA invites them to continue participating in this ongoing project.
Funding of NATO entities is partly transparent
The website NATO Transparency and Public Accountability indicates that the common funding budget in 2013 for NATO’s military, civilian and investment projects was € 2.4 billion. It is not possible, however, to retrieve further detailed information from publicly available sources about the amount member countries spent on various NATO entities and missions and for what purpose.
The United States of America are the largest contributor to NATO with € 523.9 million plus an unknown amount for funding entities and missions. For Germany the contribution is € 351.3 million plus unknown additional contributions. For Britain it is € 265.5 million plus unknown additional contributions. For France it is € 264.7 million plus unknown additional contributions. The website shows that the Netherlands contributed € 77.5 million in 2013, plus an unspecified contribution to various NATO funds and missions.
The website also presents a ranking of NATO entities. Eight of the 48 NATO entities have a high score on a list of basic transparency indicators, such as a publicly available annual budget and a publicly available financial statement.
NATO consists of 28 member countries and has a political and military task, aimed at defending the common territory, managing crises that may affect the territory, and finally increasing international security by cooperating with other organizations and countries. For this purpose, NATO is undertaking peacekeeping and stabilisation missions, for example, in Afghanistan, Somalia, Kosovo and Turkey.
Note for the editor
Further information is available at www.rekenkamer.nl/english/nato-transparency