Published on: 18 November 2014
NATO is funded with taxpayers’ money. However, it does not yet provide comprehensive information about its annual revenues, expenditures, and achievements to the taxpayer. NATO is not yet transparent and public accountable for its financial management. It is not clear what NATO entities achieve or whether they give value for money. This is because most of NATO’s financial and organisational information is undisclosed. Some of this information is considered too sensitive to disclose to the public; but there is also information which is not deemed sensitive, but is simply not disclosed.
We urge NATO to consider which undisclosed, non-sensitive information could be disclosed to the public. NATO should also consider publishing consolidated financial statements and providing insight into the performance delivered for the millions of Euros of public money being spent. This transparency would enhance NATO’s accountability to taxpaying citizens. It would also further highlight the results of the transatlantic alliance and NATO’s relevance, justifying public spending.
In June 2014 NATO has taken an important step towards more transparency by disclosing individual audit reports of NATO entities and their related financial statements. We hope that NATO continues along this path and releases more information on NATO’s organisational structure and the operational management of NATO entities. Disclosing facts and figures about overhead costs – as long as they are non-sensitive – is relevant for optimising the efficiency of NATO entities.
The Netherlands Court of Audit (NCA) has taken the initiative to present an overview of the publicly available information on NATO’s finances and its results and what is publicly known of financial flows from the member countries to NATO.
The NCA audits the expenses that the Netherlands annually spends on NATO activities. We do not have a specific mandate to audit NATO, but we are involved in advising the International Board of Auditors for NATO (IBAN).Together with IBAN and other Supreme Audit Institutions of member countries we have been concluding for several years that NATO’s financial management is not in order.
We have recommended in the past that NATO should account more transparently for its use of the contributions made by the member countries (Letter to House of Representatives (PDF), 2012-2013, 28 676, no. 164). Transparency and public accountability are essential aspects of good public governance. This applies not only to NATO’s financial information, but also to its achievements and value for money.
Through this initiative we aim to trigger a public discussion on NATO’s performance by presenting taxpayers with a comprehensive overview of NATO’s present level of transparency and public accountability. Our long-term goal is to stimulate NATO to become more transparent and accountable to the public, without compromising the security of its activities.
The NCA normally verifies whether the information that it publishes is correct. However, this project is an exception because we want to present the public information from NATO and member countries as it is available. This implies that we have not verified the correctness of the information that we present on this website.
IBAN is the independent, external audit body of NATO and is responsible for financial and performance audits of NATO entities and the NATO Security Investment Programme