Public accountability for NATO expenditure: small rays of hope but limited transparency

Quarter of IBAN audit opinions for 2013 qualified or adverse

Despite the many small steps taken to enhance transparency, public accountability for the expenditure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by NATO itself is still limited. This finding is presented in a letter from the Netherlands Court of Audit to the Dutch House of Representatives of 18 November 2014.

The Court notes in the letter that NATO does not prepare consolidated financial statements. The Netherlands is one of the 28 member states of this military alliance founded in 1949. The 50 agencies that work within the alliance render little public account. The Netherlands makes a financial contribution to 16 of the agencies. Of the 47 opinions the International Board of Auditors for NATO (IBAN) recently expressed on the accuracy of the NATO entities’ financial statements, eight were qualified and four were adverse. IBAN audited €12 billion of NATO expenditure in 2013. Together, the 12 qualified and adverse opinions represented a financial value of €6 billion.

Update of NATO Transparency website

The Court of Audit launched an English-language thematic website on the transparency of NATO on 10 June 2014 to give members of parliament and others an impression of the public accountability of NATO entities. It placed an update of the website online on 18 November. The update shows that the information provided by many agencies and on the overhead costs of the Secretary-General is not accounted for publicly. MPs from all NATO member state will discuss international developments during the NATO Parliamentary Assembly to be held in The Hague from 21 to 24 November 2014.

Note to the editor

More information is available from press officer Joost Aerts on +31 (0)70 342 41 89 / +31 (0)6 20 24 87 03. The letter and thematic website can be found at and can be ordered on +31 (0)70 342 44 00.