Operating environment and the risks related to it
The planning of audit topics at the National Audit Office is based on risk assessment and on monitoring both changes in the operating environment and general government calculations. This helps us to target our audits at topical issues that have a societal impact.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had extensive impacts on the operating environment. The central government’s responsibility has been emphasized in the efforts to resolve the financial crisis. In practice, the central government has been responsible for the Covid-19-related costs and for supporting both citizens and businesses to overcome the financial crisis. The state resources have therefore been used in an exceptional manner, and fiscal policy has been expansionary. The pandemic has proved to be long-lasting and to have long-term impacts on the economy and society. This will continue to require further action from the central government. At the same time, however, it is important to take measures to strengthen public finances.
Finland’s public finances are forecast to show a deficit for a long time. The ageing population, the low birth rate, and employment mismatch problems cause pressures for the debt level to increase in the longer term. Other major risks to Finland’s general government finances continue to include the high level of state guarantees and other contingent liabilities, and the significant interest rate risk related to the rapidly grown government debt.
A key role for the stabilization of public finances is also played by the success of the reforms already launched during this parliamentary term, particularly the transfer of the responsibility for providing health, social, and rescue services to wellbeing services counties, and the progress of the reforms that are being prepared, such as the social security reform and the transfer of public employment and economic development services from the central to the local government (TE services reform 2024). At the same time that the wellbeing services counties are building their health and social services systems, the aim is to reduce the treatment, rehabilitation, and service backlog caused in health and social services by the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic and to implement a tighter treatment guarantee (guaranteed access to healthcare and treatment) in primary health care. This makes the situation even more challenging. Finland has sought help for the funding gap from the EU recovery instrument.
Digitalization and globalization, for example, cause strong pressures for change in the structures and operating models of public administration. Other issues that also require constant monitoring and renewal are the reorganization of the media field and democracy, and the transformation of the trust society. Adapting to changes and influencing them require a proactive approach and prudent targeting of measures and resources. Only correctly targeted measures can support the emergence of sustainable and policy-coherent long-term solutions when it is necessary to reconcile the cross-sectoral nature of phenomena, conflicting objectives, and limited resources.
The impact portfolio provides an overview of the audit topics of the National Audit Office. It also shows the connection between the audit topics and the risks identified, as well as the audit type to be applied to the audit.
Spending calculation of the operating and financial plan, OFP calculation, and human resource framework
The spending calculation for 2022–2026 assesses the total level of budget proposals per year. The calculation shows the breakdown of the appropriations in the budget proposals into salaries, office rents, and other operating expenses. The operating and financial plan (OFP) calculation also indicates the VAT expenses and changes in expenditure in 2022–2025(26). Human resources are allocated by function in compliance with the 2022–2026 human resource framework. The human resource framework indicates the expected trends in salary expenses and person-years during the planning period.