Checks and Balances
In Austria, the public authorities' financial dealings, legislation and administration are subject to scrutiny by auditing authorities.
Central Auditing Office
The purpose of the Central Auditing Office is to monitor the activities of the federal, state, municipal and other public authorities defined by law.
The Central Auditing Office compiles the Federal Auditors' Report and submits it to Parliament. The Central Auditing Office is directly answerable to Parliament.
The Central Auditing Office is independent of the Federal Government and the State Governments and is subject only to the provisions of the law. Its staff is made up of a President and the requisite full-time and auxiliary employees.
The President of the Central Auditing Office is appointed on the recommendation of the Main Committee of the 'Nationalrat' for a twelve-year term. The President may not be re-elected. Before taking office, the President of the Central Auditing Office is sworn in by the Federal President.
The President of the Central Auditing Office may not be a member of a statutory representative body nor may he or she have belonged to the Federal Government or a State Government within the last four years.
The administration is subject not only to financial but also to parliamentary control. The two chambers of Parliament are empowered to monitor the activities of the Federal Government, to question members of the Federal Government on all issues pertaining to executive action, to require all relevant information, and to voice their wishes on the implementation of executive powers in the form of parliamentary resolutions.
At the instigation of the Administrative Court or the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court declares federal or state legislation to be constitutional or not. The Constitutional Court may also examine the constitutionality of state legislation at the instigation of the Federal Government or the constitutionality of federal legislation at the instigation of a State Government.
The People's Lawyer (Ombudsman)
The People's Lawyer, established in 1977, is an institution to which any person may turn directly if he or she feels wrongly treated by a public administrative authority.
If dealing with such complaints, the People's Lawyers have the unconditional right to inspect the relevant documentation. On completion of their investigations, the People's Lawyers may recommend to the public authority concerned that the subject of the complaint be rectified.
The People's Lawyer is an independent institution answerable only to the 'Nationalrat', to which the People's Lawyers submit an annual Report.
The People's Lawyer is a collegiate body made up of three People's Lawyers. The presidency rotates on an annual basis.
The People's Lawyers are elected by the 'Nationalrat' on the basis of nominations by the three largest parliamentary parties.
The legislation governing the People's Lawyer is part of the Federal Constitution.