Opinion poll: More and more people trust the SAO of Hungary

2018-09-05 08:56:00   |   Author: Radócz Ákos

About two-thirds of the Hungarian population trusts the State Audit Office of Hungary - this was the result of a representative opinion poll about the public recognition and reputation of the SAO. According to a survey conducted by the Nielsen Market Research and Analytics Company at the beginning of August 2018 - commissioned by the SAO -, confidence in the supreme audit institution is at an even higher 74% in the case of those with a higher education degree, and 92% of those holding a diploma consider the activities of the State Audit Office of Hungary to be important for society. It is apparent from the comparison of the results of the research completed now and a similar research conducted by Ipsos in 2015 - publicly available at Public Finance Quarterly Online - that public recognition of the State Audit Office of Hungary - 65% at present - has risen by 9 percentage points, whereas confidence in the SAO has increased by 8 percentage points over three years.

The State Audit Office of Hungary (SAO) is the supreme financial and economic audit organisation of the National Assembly. Its mission is to promote the transparency of public finances and to support a well-managed state with value creating audits performed on a solid professional basis. Through its activities, the SAO facilitates the regular, economical, efficient, and effective utilisation and use of public funds. Information dissemination in society and the extent to which the Hungarian population is familiar with and how it views the SAO are of particular importance for the utilisation of the SAO’s work. This is also important because Supreme Audit Institutions play an important role in building social trust.

 

 

Between 6–10 August 2018, Nielsen conducted an opinion poll in the form of personal interviews on behalf of the SAO. The primary purpose of the research was to provide a comprehensive picture of the public recognition of the SAO and its tasks with the help of a nationwide representative sample. The participants in the research are mapping the population of the 18–59 age group along the main socio-demographic factors. A similar survey was last conducted about the State Audit Office of Hungary in 2015, which also provides an opportunity for statistical comparison.


About two-thirds of the Hungarian population has already heard of the State Audit Office of Hungary


Research conducted by Nielsen in August 2018 has revealed that about 65% of the Hungarian population has already heard of the SAO of Hungary. In 2015, this rate was 56%. This means that the public recognition of the SAO has increased by 9 percentage points over the past three years. Those with a higher education degree are familiar with the State Audit Office of Hungary at the highest rate (87%).


According to the survey, in 2018, 62% of respondents are confident that the State Audit Office of Hungary’s audit findings are professional and well-founded. In 2015, this rate was 54%. The increase in public confidence is even more significant among those with a higher education degree, which group is the most interested in the SAO’s work; 74% of those holding a diploma trust the State Audit Office of Hungary. In 2015, this rate was 58%. This means that confidence in the SAO has increased by 8 percentage points, and by 16 percentage points among those with a higher education degree.

 



In 2018, 77% of respondents consider the work of the SAO of Hungary to be important from a social point of view. Among those with a higher education degree, the importance of the activities of the SAO is at an even higher 92%. In 2015, 74% of respondents and 79% of those holding a diploma considered the work of the SAO to be important. This means that in the past three years, the rate of those considering the activity of the SAO to be important has increased by 3 percentage points, and by 13 percentage points among those with a higher education degree, i.e. those most aware of and familiar with the activities of the State Audit Office of Hungary.


According to Nielsen’s 2018 survey, 47% of respondents consider the SAO of Hungary to be effective. Among those with a higher education degree, this rate is 62%. In 2015, 37% of respondents and 51% of those holding a diploma considered the work of the SAO to be effective. This means that the rate of those considering the activity of the SAO to be effective has increased by 10 percentage points, and by 11 percentage points among those with a higher education degree between 2015 and 2018.


Most of the respondents are familiar with the main tasks of the State Audit Office of Hungary


Nielsen’s now completed research has revealed that most respondents are aware that the SAO’s main task is to audit public funds and property. 44% of respondents knew that the SAO reports to the Parliament, while 39% of them thought—incorrectly—that the SAO had a reporting obligation to the government. Only 11% of the sample has already seen a report by the State Audit Office of Hungary. As a result, almost half (45%) of respondents do not know that the reports of the State Audit Office of Hungary are publicly accessible for anyone in their entirety.


The majority of respondents replied that the SAO may notify the competent authority (83%) and the auditees (74%) in the event of a deficiency, may initiate the suspension of the budget support of the audited body (72%), and may advise the Parliament and the government (62% each). On the other hand, there is also a relatively high number of respondents who - incorrectly - believe that the SAO can impose fines (64%) or initiate investigations at its own discretion (53%). It follows that most respondents do not know that the State Audit Office of Hungary is not an authority and has no sanctioning or investigative powers.

 


Respondents are mostly informed about the activity of the SAO of Hungary through television (53%). In addition, obtaining information on the Internet is also typical: One-fifth (20%) of respondents find information about the work of the SAO through Internet platforms. Only a small percentage but still 4% of the sample gets information from the website of the State Audit Office of Hungary or from its news portal (www.aszhirportal.hu). It is also noticeable that a demonstrably higher proportion of those with a higher education degree prefer the Internet (35% vs 20%), whereas those with a primary level education prefer printed papers (24% vs 12%) compared to the full sample.


Both recognition and reputation of the State Audit Office of Hungary are increasing


Comparing the results of the research completed now and the results of the research carried out three years ago, it is visible that the proportion of those members of the Hungarian society who know the institution and its activities is increasing, and more and more people trust the SAO’s findings. The recent research also highlights the fact that a significant portion of those familiar with the State Audit Office of Hungary finds the work of the SAO important, and an increasing proportion of them also considers the SAO’s activities to be effective.

 

 

 

Bálint Horváth
Head of Communication and Institutional Relations Department