According to Auditor General Per-Kristian Foss, the Justice Ministry had failed to enact most of the most important recommendations of the commission which was set up to analyse why Norway response to Breivik’s attacks had been so inadequate.
“Since the Gjørv Commission presented its proposals for improvement in Autumn 2011, we have seen no significant improvement in the ability of the ministry,” he said as he released the report.
“‘Serious’ is an expression we rarely use. I do not hide that this is the most serious criticism we have come up with in my time.”
The Gjørv Commission made a damning assessment both of the security services’ failure to uncover Breivik’s plans before his attack and of the police and emergency services’ response to it once it happened.
It concluded that the attack on the government quarter could have been prevented if the official safeguards had actually been implemented, and that the lives of the 69 people who died on Utøya could have been saved if the police response had been quicker.
However Foss said that little had been done over the past four years to improve the situation.
“I sat there in Parliament when these terrible things happened and everyone agreed that these terrible things could not happen again, that we must improve,” he said. “I am personally disappointed that the Ministry of Justice has not placed greater emphasis on this work.”
Foss said that the civil servants at the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning, the part of the Justice Ministry responsible for managing emergency preparedness complained of poor communication with the Justice Ministry.
He noted that the Justice Ministry had recently begun enacting some of the long delayed measures, but pointed out that this had only begun to happen after he began preparing his report.
“But all these measures were implemented mostly while this report was already under way, so I am not particularly impressed that he did these things, when he knew what direction we were going in,” he said.
Justice Minister Anders Anundsen laid the blame firmly at the door of the previous left-of-centre government.
“We are in the process of following up on the Auditor General’s recommendations,“ he said. “We have developed a good strategy to remedy the lack of focus that the previous government had in this area, but it takes time to get everything in place.”