NIK about Programme of investments of special importance for sport

The Programme of investments of special importance for sport aims at providing proper training conditions to the national team and Polish sports associations to ensure the highest possible performance. The key body responsible for that is the Central Sports Centre whose entire infrastructure is designed for high-performance sport. The Programme also covers investments of the Institute of Sport – National Research Institute and the Polish Anti-doping Laboratory.

One can also apply for investment subsidies in large urban agglomerations which makes it possible for competitors to reconcile sports training with education or work. Construction, reconstruction or refurbishment projects for sport facilities, which meet international standards, can be submitted e.g. by: universities, communes, districts or companies whose activity is connected with physical culture.

Key audit findings

NIK has stressed that since 2018 the process of subsiding investments filed as part of the Programme might not be fully transparent. The Minister of Sport decided then that projects should be scored additional points – positive or negative, without giving reason. By the time the audit ended, 97 investments were given 77 positive points and 20 negative points. Besides, the documentation concerning settlements did not allow verification if the Programme beneficiaries exceeded the subsidy thresholds and the thresholds of eligible costs, that is the ones incurred by beneficiaries, qualifying them for financial assistance.

The Programme did not specify any subsidising criteria, facilitating even distribution of sports base in individual provinces.

It is impossible to fully verify to what extent the facilities covered by the Programme were used by the national team and Polish sports associations and how often they became the arena of nationwide and international competitions. The reason is that the Minister of Sport did not define any monitoring principles.

Nevertheless, the Programme goal was achieved. In the audited period, the high-performance sports infrastructure has been expanded considerably.

Effects of implementing the Programme of investments of special importance for sport in 2015-2020 (1st half). Built, rebuilt or refurbished sport facilities – 72 (in total, including Central Sports Centre): 20 sports halls, 14 athletic stadiums, 9 football pitches, 7 cross-country skiing trails, 6 ski jumps, 3 indoor sports and entertainment venues, 2 indoor swimming pools, 2 ice rinks, 9 other sport facilities. Other facilities built, rebuilt or refurbished (Central Sports Centre): 17 administration and social facilities, 5 accommodation facilities (hotels and sports dorms), 3 canteens, 15 other facilities. 40 purchases: 40 sports equipment and facility support equipment. Source: NIK’s analysis

As a result, the sports base of summer and winter Olympic sports has improved (with some exceptions). Investments carried out as part of the Programme also provided conditions to prepare the national team for the Olympics, the World Cup and the European Championship. They also facilitated organisation of sports competitions in Poland at the highest international level.

From January 2015 to the middle of 2020, in facilities of the Central Sports Centre subsidised as part of the Programme, 346 sports competitions were organised, including 30 at the world level, 45 at the European level and 271 at the nationwide level.

Subsidising investments covered by the Programme

In 2015-2020 (1st half), the Minister of Health spent nearly PLN 816 million on investments. The Central Sports Centre received about PLN 125 million, the Institute of Sport – National Research Institute – about PLN 14 million and the Minister earmarked PLN 677 million for other investments. The highest subsidies were paid in 2016 and in 2017. The money came from the Physical Culture Development Fund (FCDF).

Minister’s expenditures from FCDF funds for the Programme of investments of special importance for sport in 2015-2020 (1st half). PLN 815.8 million, 180 subsidy agreements. 2015: PLN 146.6 million ; 2016: PLN 174.5 million; 2017: PLN 170.7 million; 2018: PLN 136.2 million; 2019: PLN 162.3 million; 2020 (1st half): PLN 25.5 million. Source: NIK’s analysis

Of nearly PLN 125 million received by the Central Sports Centre, over PLN 7 million was used by the Headquarters in Warsaw and the rest – nearly PLN 118 million was used by six Olympic Preparation Centres.

The Ministry of Sport subsidised investments without defining criteria that would allow even distribution of sports base in all provinces. The Director of Sports Infrastructure Department in the Ministry of Sport explained that provinces are differentiated in terms of a given discipline potential as well as geographic and climatic conditions. He also argued that the Programme is of competitive nature and the selection of tasks is limited by a group of applicants.

Investment projects submitted by applicants were reviewed by commissions appointed by the Minister of Sport. In March 2018, the Minister granted himself the right to additional review of projects by scoring negative and positive points. Most importantly – without any justification. According to NIK, in this situation the process of granting subsidies may not be fully transparent. Besides, that approach questions the adequacy of content-based review of applications by a dedicated commission.

Also, the documentation related to investment settlement did not include any information confirming that the beneficiary did not exceed the subsidy levels.

The most serious irregularities were identified in Karpacz. They were related to agreements for the expansion of the city stadium in Karpacz and totalled over PLN 358 thousand.

The irregularities identified by NIK are also related to obligatory technical inspections of the facilities subsidised as part of the Programme. For instance, the Józef Piłsudski University of Physical Education in Warsaw did not control the athletic hall and Czarny Dunajec Commune failed to control the ski jumps.

The Programme of investments of special importance for sport is to provide proper training conditions to competitors. The Minister of Sport did not specify, though, how the Programme beneficiaries (except for the Central Sports Centre) are to monitor the use of sports halls, stadiums or swimming pools for high-performance athletes. According to NIK, specifying the monitoring principles would make it easier for the Minister to evaluate the Programme implementation and spend public funds for that purpose  more effectively in future.

The lack of monitoring principles or parameters makes it impossible to fully evaluate the use of sport facilities. Nevertheless, NIK’s inspection of facilities covered by the Programme confirmed that they were used by athletes from Polish sports associations, including the national team and sports clubs, also for commercial purposes.

NIK made a questionnaire survey among 33 Programme beneficiaries which built, rebuilt or refurbished 34 sport facilities and were not audited by NIK. The survey results showed that only one of those facilities was not used directly by the Polish sports associations which recommended investments or by provincial associations being part of them or by sports clubs. No nationwide or international sports competitions were organised in eight facilities.  

Use of sports base of the Central Sports Centre

The NIK audit revealed that in June 2020 the Central Sports Centre had 88 sport facilities at its disposal. At that time, the Centre provided full training conditions to 43 Polish sports associations and failed to provide them to 14 Polish sports associations. In case of 15 associations the training conditions provided by the Central Sports Centre were incomplete.

In the audited period the CSC facilities were used to a bigger extent to train high-performance athletes. Olympic Preparation Centres were used to train athletes from Polish sports association twice as often as for commercial purposes.

NIK also had reservations about the way the Central Sports Centre concluded and performed marketing agreements in 2017-2019. The CSC Director concluded two agreements for about PLN 110 thousand, ignoring internal procedures which said the market research was essential. Besides, the service performance, for which the Centre paid over PLN 134 thousand in total was not documented in any way. Also, there was no confirmation that the performance of one of those agreements brought about specific results. It means that about PLN 21 thousand was spent uneconomically.

NIK identified other irregularities in case of rent agreements concluded by the Central Sports Centre for two rooms in the Headquarters of the Central Sports Centre in Warsaw. The rooms were refurbished as part of the Programme of investments of special importance for sport. The documents were prepared without due diligence as they did not include any provisions obliging tenants to use the rooms for sports purposes. The agreements suggested that they were used as offices.

NIK recommendations

To the Minister of Culture, National Heritage and Sport to:

  • define intervention guidelines and tools to apply them (including indicators and measures) to support high-performance sports infrastructure;
  • the Minister should be required to justify negative or positive scoring of investment projects as part of the Programme in terms of strategic significance of investments for the Polish sport development;
  • introduce the mechanism to monitor the use of sport facilities by beneficiaries (except for CSC);
  • introduce the principles of verifying if individual thresholds set out in the Programme were met;
  • intensify efforts to develop the list of sports base used to prepare the national team in summer and winter Olympic sports.

To the Central Sports Centre to:

  • update the Strategy for the development of the Central Sports Centre for 2019-2022, in terms of planned and completed investments;
  • strengthen supervision over the conclusion and performance of agreements for outsourced marketing services;
  • make sure construction site log books for sport facilities are run properly and in accordance with the law.

To public universities to:

  • make sure periodic technical inspections of sport facilities are carried out in accordance with the law.

To local government units to:

  • make sure periodic technical inspections of sport facilities are carried out and construction site log books for sport facilities are run in accordance with the law.

Article informations

Date of creation:
28 July 2021 16:27
Date of publication:
28 July 2021 16:27
Published by:
Marta Połczyńska
Date of last change:
28 July 2021 16:27
Last modified by:
Marta Połczyńska
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