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Norway

Whistleblowing (NO0023)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Norway Action Plan 2013-2015

Action Plan Cycle: 2013

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Labour

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Whistleblower Protections

IRM Review

IRM Report: Norway End-of-Term Report 2014-2015

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

An evaluation is being carried out of the rules concerning whistleblowing. The
evaluation is being conducted by an independent body. A reference group has been
established for this project, with participation by the social partners.
The final report of the project is to be published by the end of 2013. The evaluation will
subsequently be followed up by the Ministry of Labour, and any needs for amendments
will be considered in that connection.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

12. Whistleblowing

Commitment Text:

An evaluation is being carried out of the rules concerning whistleblowing. The evaluation is being conducted by an independent body. A reference group has been established for this project, with participation by the social partners.

The final report of the project is to be published by the end of 2013. The evaluation will subsequently be followed up by the Ministry of Labour, and any needs for amendments will be considered in that connection.

COMMITMENT DESCRIPTION
An independent evaluation of the whistleblowing rules will be carried out.

Responsible institution: Ministry of Labour

Supporting institution(s): None

Start date: 1 January, 2013               End date: 31 December, 2013

Policy Aim

Norway has seen an active running debate regarding the role and protection of whistleblowers following a series of whistleblowing cases in the private sector in the early 2000s and the Snowden revelations of 2013.[Note 73: For a summary of pressing issues and history of the debate, see S. Trygstad and A.M. Ødegård,  Varsling i arbeidslivet (2014). I B. Enjolras, T. Rasmussen, and K. Steen-Johnsen (red.), Status for ytringsfriheten i Norge. Hovedrapport fra prosjektet, Rapport (2014):8, Oslo: Institutt for samfunnsforskning.] These debates have been reflected in a continuous political debate regarding the regulatory need for protecting whistleblowers.[Note 74: See for example, Kristine Foss, ”Jurist i Norsk Presseforbund skriver: Regjeringen må bedre varslervernet” (March 15, 2015), accessed September 4 2016, http://www.aftenposten.no/meninger/debatt/Jurist-i-Norsk-Presseforbund-skriver-Regjeringen-ma-bedre-varslervernet-62873b.html. ] This review of whistleblower protection was intended to contribute to that debate and to the potential of reforming existing regulation.

Status

Mid-term: Complete

The Ministry of Labour carried out an evaluation of whistle-blower rules in the first half of 2013, before the second action plan was finalised.[Note 75: Sissel C. Trygstad, Marit Skivenes, Johan Røed Steen, and Anne Mette Ødegård, “Evaluering av varslerbestemmelsene,”  Fafo-rapport (2014):5, accessed September 4, 2016, http://www.fafo.no/~fafo/images/pub/2014/20352.pdf. ] For more information, please see IRM Progress Report 2013-2014.

Did it open government?

Public accountability: Did not change

The evaluation conducted by the Ministry of Labour noted that Norwegian regulations did not meet international standards on whistleblowing. The evaluation offered a number of recommendations focused on expanding the coverage of existing legislation and improving the mandated routines for receiving whistleblower complaints in both private and public sector organizations. At the time of writing this report, parliamentary hearings were under way, considering a submission by the Ministry of Labour to the formal consultation process.[Note 76: “Høring om endringer i arbeidsmiljølovens regler om varsling,”Arbeids- og sosialdepartementet (June 20, 2016), accessed September 4, 2016, https://www.regjeringen.no/no/dokumenter/forslag-til-endringer-i-arbeidsmiljolovens-regler-om-varsling/id2505141/. ] The deadline for input to this process is 1 October 2016, after which point the Ministry of Labour will adopt a new recommendation for consideration in parliament.


Interviews with civil society representatives and members of the Norwegian Press Association note that some of the most important potential improvements in this instance include:

       removing the requirement that whistleblowing must be executed “responsively,”

       legally prohibiting official investigation of employees that engage media for whistleblowing purposes, and

       strengthening the regulatory framework for protecting journalistic sources.[Note 77: Guro Slettemark (Executive Director, Transparency International Norway), interview by Christopher Wilson, in-person meeting, Offices of the International Law and Policy Institute, September 2016; Nils Øy (Special Adviser, Norwegian Press Association), interview by Christopher Wilson, in-person meeting, Offices of the Norwegian Association of the Press, September 1, 2016; and Siri Gedde-Dahl (Chair, Norwegian Committee for Access to Information (Offentlighetsutvalget)), interview by Christopher Wilson, in-person meeting, Offices of the Norwegian Association of the Press, September 1, 2016.]

This commitment referenced a review of the existing legislation rather than legislative changes per se. Since the review of this legislation has been active and dynamic for well over a decade, the IRM researcher did not come across any evidence pointing to any gains in public accountability that might result from the Ministry of Labour’s recommendations to change the legal framework. Thus, the IRM researcher concludes that this commitment did not change the quality of open government in Norway. 

Carried forward?

None of the components of this commitment have been carried forward in the Norwegian government’s third national action plan, which is available on the OGP website.[Note 78: ”Norway’s third action plan Open Government Partnership (OGP),” Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, accessed September 4, 2016, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Norway_2016-17_NAP.pdf.]


Norway's Commitments

  1. Archiving documents

    NO0054, 2019, Capacity Building

  2. Making energy statistics available

    NO0055, 2019, E-Government

  3. E-access and expansion

    NO0056, 2019, Civic Space

  4. open cultural data

    NO0057, 2019, E-Government

  5. Digital spatial Planning

    NO0058, 2019, E-Government

  6. streamline public procurement

    NO0059, 2019, E-Government

  7. Preventing corruption

    NO0060, 2019, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  8. beneficial ownership registry

    NO0061, 2019, Beneficial Ownership

  9. User orientation

    NO0045, 2016, Capacity Building

  10. Electronic Public Records (OEP)

    NO0046, 2016, E-Government

  11. Transparency regarding environmental information

    NO0047, 2016, E-Government

  12. Starred commitment Disclosure of financial data

    NO0048, 2016, E-Government

  13. Transparency regarding rainforest funds

    NO0049, 2016, E-Government

  14. State employees’ ownership of shares

    NO0050, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  15. Promote freedom of expression and independent media

    NO0051, 2016, Civic Space

  16. Country-by-country reporting

    NO0052, 2016, Extractive Industries

  17. Register for ultimate beneficial ownership

    NO0053, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  18. Public review and public consultation

    NO0020, 2013, Capacity Building

  19. Registering and preserving digital documentation produced by public bodies

    NO0021, 2013, E-Government

  20. The Norwegian Citizen Survey (Innbyggerundersøkelsen)

    NO0022, 2013, Public Participation

  21. Whistleblowing

    NO0023, 2013, Whistleblower Protections

  22. Strengthened information exchange for more efficient crime prevention and combating

    NO0024, 2013, Justice

  23. Strengthening the transparency of public authorities and administration

    NO0025, 2013, Capacity Building

  24. eGovernment with an end-user focus

    NO0026, 2013, E-Government

  25. Plain Legal Language

    NO0027, 2013, Capacity Building

  26. Norwegian Grants Portal (MFA)

    NO0028, 2013, Aid

  27. An international convention or agreement on financial transparency

    NO0029, 2013, Private Sector

  28. Reducing conflicts of interests – Post-Employment Regulations

    NO0030, 2013, Conflicts of Interest

  29. Centre for Integrity in the Defence Sector

    NO0031, 2013, Security

  30. A better overview of committees, boards and councils – more public access to information and better opportunities for further use

    NO0032, 2013, E-Government

  31. Modernizing Public Governance

    NO0033, 2013, Capacity Building

  32. Transparency in the management of oil and gas revenues

    NO0034, 2013, Extractive Industries

  33. Transparency in the management of the Government Pension Fund (GPF)

    NO0035, 2013, E-Government

  34. Transparency and anti-corruption efforts

    NO0036, 2013, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  35. The municipal sector

    NO0037, 2013, Education

  36. “Simplify” (“Enkelt og greit”)

    NO0038, 2013, E-Government

  37. Electronic Public Records (OEP) – (Offentlig elektronisk postjournal)

    NO0039, 2013, E-Government

  38. Re-use of public sector information (PSI)

    NO0040, 2013, Capacity Building

  39. Access to health data

    NO0041, 2013, E-Government

  40. Renewal of the Government’s website (regjeringen.no – government.no)

    NO0042, 2013, E-Government

  41. Declaration of principles for interaction and dialogue with NGOs

    NO0043, 2013, Capacity Building

  42. Simplification and digital administration of arrangements for NGOs

    NO0044, 2013, Capacity Building

  43. An Open Public Sector and Inclusive Government

    NO0001, 2011, Capacity Building

  44. Measures to promote gender equality and women’s full participation in civic life, the private sector, the public administration and political processes.

    NO0002, 2011, Gender

  45. Gender Equality – Participation in the Private Sector

    NO0003, 2011, Gender

  46. Increase Women's Representation in Local Government

    NO0004, 2011, Gender

  47. Gender Equality Program

    NO0005, 2011, Gender

  48. Gender Equality – Inclusion of Immigrant Women

    NO0006, 2011, Gender

  49. Gender Equality – Combat Gender Stereotypes

    NO0007, 2011, Gender

  50. Gender Equality – Youth Initiatives

    NO0008, 2011, Gender

  51. Gender Equality – Combat Domestic Violence

    NO0009, 2011, Gender

  52. Transparency in the management of oil and gas revenues / financial transparency

    NO0010, 2011, Aid

  53. Transparency in the Management of Oil and Gas Revenues / Financial Transparency – Government Global Pension Fund

    NO0011, 2011, Fiscal Transparency

  54. Transparency in the Management of Oil and Gas Revenues / Financial Transparency – Combat Tax Evasion

    NO0012, 2011, Fiscal Transparency

  55. Transparency in the Management of Oil and Gas Revenues / Financial Transparency – Multi-National Companies

    NO0013, 2011, Fiscal Transparency

  56. An Open Public Sector and Inclusive Government – Create Central Communication Policy

    NO0014, 2011, Fiscal Transparency

  57. An Open Public Sector and Inclusive Government

    NO0015, 2011, E-Government

  58. An Open Public Sector and Inclusive Government – Public Data Use

    NO0016, 2011, Public Participation

  59. An Open Public Sector and Inclusive Government – National Statistic Publication

    NO0017, 2011, Open Data

  60. An Open Public Sector and Inclusive Government – National Public Opinion Survey

    NO0018, 2011, Records Management

  61. An Open Public Sector and Inclusive Government

    NO0019, 2011, Public Participation