History and background
Rigsrevisionen was established in its current form on 1 January 1976, but the task of the Public Accounts Committee was first described in Denmark’s Constitution of 1849.
When the Danish parliament, in 1855, passed the common constitution for Denmark, it was stipulated that a court of audit was to be established by law. Consensus on a bill was however never reached and the provision concerning the establishment of a court of audit was rejected by the parliament in 1866, when the constitution was revised. Instead, it was decided to abide by the resolution concerning a public accounts committee.
The Danish Public Accounts Committee and the national audit offices
The members of the committee were only allowed to reconcile appropriation and account figures and in practice it was almost impossible for them to carry out an actual audit that would indicate whether the accounts submitted by the ministries were correct. In 1917, the parliament therefore adopted the first public accounts bill, according to which the members of the committee could base their work on the audit reports issued by the administrative auditors in the ministries. With this change, the current division of labour between the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor General was established.
In 1926, the Danish parliament adopted the first public accounts act, which prescribed that all government accounts should be subject to financial, compliance and performance audit. Similar provisions can be found in the current Auditor General Act, sections 2 and 3. The Ministry of Finance set up four national audit offices that shared the responsibility for auditing all government agencies and bodies in the country. In conformity with the provisions currently applying to Rigsrevisionen, the committee members could request the national audit offices to conduct examinations. However, the national audit offices, which in 1958 changed name and became audit departments, were at the same time an integral part of the internal audit system and their services were available to the individual ministries.
Rigsrevisionen was established on 1 January 1976 through a merger of the two audit departments that were left after the adoption of the Auditor General Act of 1975. With the new organisation, Rigsrevisionen could perform cross-government examinations and recruit staff with the necessary competencies to perform performance audit and tackle the challenges associated with the introduction of electronic data processing.
In 1991, Rigsrevisionen was transferred from the Ministry of Economic Affairs to the parliament. The bill on the amendment of the Auditor General Act was drafted by the Public Accounts Committee, presented by the Presidency of Parliament and adopted unanimously by parliament.
Today, Rigsrevisionen is an independent institution under the authority of the parliament. The Auditor General is appointed by the Speaker of the Folketing upon recommendation from the Public Accounts Committee, cf. The Auditor General Act, section 1.