The Italian Corte dei Conti is an Institution with the role of safeguarding public finance and guaranteeing the respect of the jurisdictional order. The Corte pursues these two aims through two functions: the audit function and the jurisdictional function. According to Article 100 of the Italian Constitution, the Corte is responsible for the “a priori” audit of the legality of Government acts, and also for the “a posteriori” audit of the State Budget’s management.
It participates, in the cases and in the manners foreseen by law, in the supervision of the financial administration of those bodies to which the State contributes funds on a routine basis. It reports directly to the Chambers of the Parliament on its findings. The Corte is neither an organ of the Parliament nor of the Government. Article 100 of the Constitution places it in the particular position of organ of constitutional relevance.
In the audit field, in order to better enact Art. 100 of the Constitution, Art. 3 par. 1 of the Law n. 20 of January 14th, 1994 establishes that the Corte dei Conti should carry out an “a priori” audit exclusively on the most significant Government acts expressly listed in the article. They are essentially general planning acts of the administration; acts audited “a priori” for the consequences they produce on the following implementation acts. The “a priori” audit of these acts is performed so as to avoid that illegal administrative procedures catch on as a results of the illegitimacy of the general act. The provisions of art. 3 par. 4 of Law n. 20 must be considered the most important part of the whole reform. They introduce a new methodology of auditing, by entrusting the Institution with the task of carrying out “a posteriori” audits on the management of the budget and the capital assets of Departments and on EC funds.
This audit includes investigations aimed at sectors or subjects, not only by focusing on the aspects of legality, but also by taking into account effectiveness (results), efficiency (time and methods) and economy (costs). For this purpose, the legislator entrusted the Corte dei Conti with the task of setting audit programmes and criteria on a yearly basis. Paragraph 4 of the already mentioned article 3 entrusts the Corte also with the task of verifying the functioning of internal audits in each Department.
At least once a year, the Corte reports to the Parliament and to Regional Councils on the results of the audits carried out. There is no obligation to discuss the reports in Parliament. Through the reports, the Parliament is informed so that it can adopt measures that fall under its authority.
The Parliament shows great consideration for the Corte’s reports on account of its independence.
In the jurisdictional field the Corte’s duties are:
a) the judgement of responsibility, which concerns economic responsibility for damage caused to the State or other public bodies by their own civil servants;
b) the judgements of accounts, which regards a special responsibility for accounts, connected with the management of public money or property;
c) the judgements on pension matters, concerning civil, military and war pensions.
The new regulation regarding the jurisdictional function of the Italian Corte dei Conti (Law n. 19/1994) provides for jurisdictional Chambers of the Corte to be set up each in each region, with the seat in the capital of the region.
Appeals are allowed against the sentences of the regional jurisdictional Chambers to the central jurisdictional Chambers.
Regional Prosecutor General offices have been set up as a result of the decentralisation of the jurisdictional Chambers.
© 2011 ASSONEBB