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Report on the National Philharmonic Orchestra

2001. 11. 21.

The State Audit Office (ASZ) has issued the results of its examination into the operation of the National Philharmonic Orchestra, Choir and Bibliotheque. In summary the report paints a favourable picture of the institution's finances and structural transformation, but also draws attention to certain defficiencies.

Géza Kovács, the director of the National Philharmonic Orchestra, in an interview to Magyar Hírlap described the orchestra, choir and music library that he manages as being “Central-Europe's best preserved cultural institution.” In truth: besides various Tax Authority and Social Security inspections, in 1999, the institution was subjected to a top-to-bottom supervisory inspection. The government announced in February 2000 that if certain conditions were satisfied, it would significantly increase the institution's budgetary support, and the inspection became even stricter. According to our information, the State Audit Office's investigation at the start of 2001 was initiated by Péter Edvi, who was at that time still the ministerial commissioner for the orchestra. At the time, Géza Kovács accepted the news of this examination with surprise, because in 2000 the institution had not yet received the new influx of government money. “With respect to our operation and finances, it was only this year that brought the turn around, so in truth, State Auditors would only be justified in making an examination in Spring 2002” said the director. (Colleagues at the SAO have indicated that probably they will again “pay a visit” to the Philharmonic Orchestra.)
This examination was completed on April 30th 2001 and now, the report can be read in its entirety on the State Audit Office's homepage (www.asz.gov.hu), along with its conclusions and recommendations. It analyses how its tasks are correlated to, organisational systems, the conditions of people and objects, finance, the level that professional tasks are executed, and the National Heritage Ministry's activities in regulation, inspecting and reporting with regard to the institution. “All in all, it paints a very favourable picture of the institution, and what is most important: they did not find anything illegal. According to older, experience auditors, on a scale of one to five, we would have been awarded a four, but in all likelihood, no funded institution would ever receive a five.”- said Géza Kovács.
The report did criticise, amongst other things, the institution for having no “organisational and operational regulations agreed by the management and unions, endorsed by the supervisory organisation.” The Auditors also objected that although the quality of artistic work among the orchestra and choir has indisputably improved, “artistic concepts and strategic plans do not back up the raised budgetary support.” Géza Kovács considers these objections to be fair, but – as he said in reply to our question – the institution will become a Public Benefit Company (Kht) on January 1st 2002, when the written concept and strategy, as well as the new regulations will be presented as an appendix with the founding papers for the Kht.”

Attila Retkes
(Magyar Hírlap, November 21st 2001.)