“Taken out of context.” Ministries complain about the SAO’s overwhelming report on the state of the Czech Republic


It didn’t take long for the unflattering annual report of the Supreme Audit Office (NAO) for last year to prompt concerned reactions from individual ministries. The office stated that the Czech Republic is not sufficiently prepared for crises and extraordinary events. According to him, the responsible institutions underestimated many events, such as the covid-19 pandemic, and did not learn enough from them. However, this is not liked by, for example, the Department of Defense or the Interior, which complain about the SAO’s criticisms.

According to the auditors, the authorities sometimes only took formal steps without significant results. It is likely that the state will repeat similar mistakes at critical moments, which can lead to significant damage, waste of money and endanger the health of residents, the SAO said.

“Without knowing the details at the moment, I have to say that this does not surprise me, because we know that in recent years these things have not been given enough attention and our government is intensively trying to correct this and take care of the security of the Czech Republic,” he responded immediately Prime Minister Petr Fiala. “The goal is for the state to be prepared for crisis situations of various types, he added.

According to the office’s inspectors, real changes that would improve preparedness for crises in practice are minimal. “A number of our inspections, not only from last year, pointed out that we witnessed primarily only formal steps without significant results,” the annual report states. Among other things, the Office notes that the system for the protection of soft targets is still not complete, and the long-term neglected state of population protection is also a weak point.

The SAO contradicts itself

But other institutions were not as diplomatic as Fiala. For example, the Department of Defense rejected the charge that direct contracts with foreign governments and manufacturers without competition risked inefficient and wasteful spending of money. In a press release, it stated that awarding contracts in the field of security and defense without tendering is permitted by law, and other allies in the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) follow suit.

The SAO wrote in its annual report that the Ministry of Defense was not able to effectively use the money provided, despite its expenses repeatedly increasing. “Recently, the MoD has increasingly been making financially significant acquisitions, when it concludes contracts without competition directly with selected foreign governments or with specific manufacturers. In this meeting, the SAO sees a risk of inefficient and wasteful spending of funds,” the report also states.

The Ministry of Defense does not agree with the criticism. “The awarding of contracts in the field of security and defense without tendering is permitted by law. Other allies in the EU and NATO are also proceeding in the same way. The Ministry consistently makes sure that – if possible – the tender is advertised,” the office said. According to the Ministry’s statistics, last year about 70 percent of contracts were awarded without using this legal exception.

On the contrary, the office proceeds with important acquisitions, when it is not even possible otherwise, he added. This concerns, for example, the decision to purchase 24 American F-35 aircraft. The Czech side will pay 150 billion crowns for the fighters. It is the most expensive Czech army purchase. The defense stated that the aircraft could not be procured except through an intergovernmental agreement with the US. “An important factor in the current global security situation is also speeding up deliveries, if the contract is awarded so-called directly,” the MoD added.

“The report of the SAO partially contradicts itself. In the past, the office criticized us for not moving fast enough in the modernization of the army. On the other hand, he is now criticizing us for the fact that we sometimes use a form of intergovernmental cooperation in order to speed things up,” said Defense Minister Jana Černochová (ODS). According to her, the SAO should perhaps consider its methodology when, on the one hand, it wants a rapid modernization of the army, but on the other, it expects the announcement of public tenders. “When we often wait several years before the Office for the Protection of Economic Competition confirms their results,” Černochová added.

And inside

The Ministry of the Interior immediately sent out a similar application. “The MoI did not agree with the statements made by the SAO in relation to the protection of the population and soft targets already when the audit conclusion was published a year ago. At the same time, no new information is presented in the annual report of the SAO,” says spokesman Adam Rözler in a press release.

“The population protection system of the Czech Republic is considered one of the most robust and best prepared within the EU. The Supreme Audit Office evaluates the entire system only on selected measures that can be used in a state of threat to the state and a state of war (hiding and means of individual protection). But these measures are not universal for all kinds of situations. It is true that means of individual protection and shelters have almost zero use in non-military situations. It is also necessary to place the whole matter in the context of the time during which fundamental changes took place. Today, the preferred form is the so-called improvised shelters. In addition, the SAO interprets facts taken out of context. The total capacity to provide shelter is about 13% of the population. The warning and notification system covers over 85% of the population with its signal. The National Crisis Management Portal will also be launched in September, where citizens will have information available in one place,” the department complains.

Similar is the case with the protection of soft targets, he claims. “During the entire period of the inspection, the NAO equated the soft targets protection system with one specific subsidy program. At the same time, the soft target protection system is a whole set of activities and measures to help counter a potential terrorist or serious violent attack. Subsidy support is therefore only one of the articles of this system. By replacing the entire system and the subsidies themselves, as the SAO did in the audit conclusion, it creates a false impression of the non-existence of a system for the protection of soft targets, the ministry said.

The SAO concluded last year that the population protection system in the Czech Republic has fundamental shortcomings. According to the inspectors, people are not sufficiently informed, masks and permanent shelters are missing, with which only 3.2 percent of the population is protected. At the time, however, the Ministry of the Interior described the conclusions of the inspection as tendentious. According to the interior of the EU, the population protection system in the Czech Republic is, on the contrary, considered one of the most robust and best prepared.

The article is in Czech

Tags: context Ministries complain SAOs overwhelming report state Czech Republic


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