December 1, 2022

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Forsvarssjef Eirik Kristoffersen på pressekonferanse om beredskapssituasjonen p.g.a. krigen i Ukraina

Recommends a complete overhaul of the notification system in the armed forces – NRK Norway – Overview of news from different parts of the country

After a series of revelations at NRK about notifications and errors in the armed forces relating to sexual harassment, abuse of power and abuse, the agency has now been investigated by outside consultants.

Consulting firm PWC has been hired by the Norwegian Armed Forces this summer. The company examined routine systems and procedures, but also looked at more than 50 specific cases.

Gunnar Holm Ringen of PWC reports on notification in the Norwegian Armed Forces.

Photo: Martin Legland/NRK

They did this to see if the Norwegian Armed Forces handled the notifications correctly – and if any adverse circumstances were revealed, they received the consequences they should have.

The report from PWC reveals a number of shortcomings in how the Norwegian Armed Forces handle notifications.

“Our main finding is that we believe the defense has a non-standardized alert handling practice where the risks of deficiencies and errors are very high,” PWC chief of investigation Gunnar Holm-Ringen says during the presentation.

In many of the cases reported by NRK, the lack of consequences for those who broke the rules and crossed the line is a consistent theme.

Downtime and bonus package in lieu of dismissal

The PWC report states that there has been a misunderstanding in the armed forces of what is required to dismiss employees.

  • Many managers mistakenly believe that the threshold for dismissal and dismissal is too high.
  • The defense did not use the full range of possible reactions against those who did something reprehensible. The range includes everything from warning to dismissal.
  • The armed forces refrained from handling cases while they were being investigated by the police or military police.
  • In many cases, separation agreements were granted in lieu of dismissal or dismissal.

Investigations show that some also received bonuses of up to 1 million crowns, even if they left the armed forces for undesirable circumstances.

PWC mentions a case there in the report An employee has behaved in a highly sexually offensive manner. The person received a final agreement with six months’ salary and was paid a small bonus.

The bonus is usually given to some employees when they turn 35, and “was introduced because the person concerned was a few months away from turning 35,” the report says.

– People should not get severance pay for doing illegal things. I’ve been through many cases. It’s quite clear that there are many cases that should have received a different reaction in light of the day, but I can’t bring the old cases back, Defense Chief Erik Kristofferson tells NRK when confronted with these points in the report.

When asked whether cases with unacceptable circumstances would have greater consequences in the future, Chief Defense Officer Erik Kristofferson replied:

The consequences of a reprimand or reprimand should be clear. The challenge was that many accidents in the past are not included in an individual’s record, Kristofferson says.

Among others, he highlighted the NRK case of how officers were punished for bypassing UN service in South Sudan, but at the same time were allowed out again on new assignments abroad.

Recommend to change the entire system

Based on their findings, the PWC experts recommend an overhaul of the entire system for handling notifications in the armed forces.

PWC has come 15 specific proposals for measures To improve notification conditions in the armed forces. Among other things:

  • Create a separate central notification unit. The unit must have specialized expertise and the ability to handle challenging cases.
  • Create and strengthen local notification groups to deal in different parts of the armed forces, eg in the army and other defense branches.
  • Less responsibility for handling notifications by the individual local manager.

The proposal to change the system is based on the need for better knowledge and competence among those who will deal with notifications.

PWC believes that many local managers cannot be expected to have knowledge of all the complex rules regarding notifications and employment law.

– We believe the clearest of the main findings is that the decentralized handling of whistleblowing issues, combined with the NAF’s own vulnerabilities, increases the risk of errors, says PWC’s Gunnar Holm-Ringen.

Gunnar Holm-Ringen from PWC and Chief Defense Officer Eric Kristoffersen

Chief of Defense Erik Kristoffersen (R) received a report on the notifications from Gunnar Holm-Ringen at PWC.

Photo: Martin Legland/NRK

During the presentation, PWC noted that insufficient capabilities and experience to handle difficult cases locally increase the risk of errors.

Ringen says there are many people we’ve spoken to who deal with notifications at the local level who have a lack of competence in handling notification cases.

They believe that it is more correct for local managers to seek assistance from competency centers and/or a central unit. Cases should be able to be forwarded there for processing.

Part of the proposal is also justified by the need to have an overview of all existing cases. PWC revealed in its report that no one has an overview of the cases in the many places where notifications are currently handled in the Norwegian Armed Forces.

Chief of Defense: – We dealt with notifications very poorly

Defense Chief Erik Kristofferson speaks after receiving a defense notification report from PWC

Chief of Defense Erik Kristofferson receives the report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Photo: Martin Legland/NRK

Chief of Defense Eric Kristofferson is the recipient of the PricewaterhouseCoopers report.

During the presentation, he admitted that he and the armed forces had gone through a difficult period focusing on mistakes and shortcomings.

– Cases have bothered me as defense minister. The commitment internally in the armed forces and externally was significant. Transparency can be uncomfortable, but openness also builds trust, Kristofferson says shortly after presenting PwC’s findings.

The Chief of Defense also acknowledges that there are errors in how it handles notifications in the armed forces.

– The armed forces dealt with notification cases very poorly. General Erik Kristofferson says many of the injured are not receiving good enough care.

He says PwC’s findings show a correct picture of the situation in the Norwegian armed forces.

They should get better at handling notifications, Kristofferson says.

– We must be an organization that handles notifications in a reliable and correct manner. number The defense minister says he deserves to be bullied and harassed.

It is not right to treat things as low as possible

The PWC review shows that many of the managers in the armed forces who today end up dealing with whistleblowing issues are not competent enough.

Many managers had little education in this area.

The investigators looked at, among other things, a selection of concrete cases – more than 50. They found several errors:

  • Cases lack reports and documents.
  • Not enough information was provided to the whistleblower and other interested parties.
  • Serious cases are sent to the lowest level.

Notification procedures are not good enough and are seen as unclear. There are some particular weaknesses associated with how the Norwegian Armed Forces are set up, Gunnar Holm-Ringen, Head of Review at PWC, says while presenting the report.

Despite the lack of competence among local commanders, the Norwegian Armed Forces have a rule: Notification cases must be handled at the lowest possible level – without unnecessary bureaucracy.

The armed forces systematically sent serious cases down the system. Even if the informant reports a case to the notification receiving center, the case can be returned to the local manager.

PWC investigators believe that sending cases is always wrong.

They point out that in serious cases – such as cases of sexual harassment – there may be little knowledge and ability on the part of local managers to handle them well.

PWC also indicates a problem with small relationships and impotence.

If a whistleblowing case is handled locally, the responsible manager can know both the whistleblower and the person charged with objectionable circumstances. They could socialize privately in small places around the country, and they might have studied and had assignments together.

However, PwC believes that it can sometimes have its strengths because local leaders know the conditions well.

The chief of defense says he’s listening to PWC’s advice about handling alerts from local leaders.

– We have a practice with a very decentralized solution. It leaves room for cases that are not treated equally and for handling them very haphazardly. So we have to organize the handling differently, Chief Defense Officer Erik Kristofferson admits

Kristofferson says they will come up with a new solution for the Norwegian Armed Forces.

Read NRK cases:

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