Three institutions are linked to the Cour des comptes : the Budgetary and Financial Discipline Court (CDBF), the Council of Mandatory Contributions (CPO) and the High Council of public finances (HCFP).
Public funds must benefit from special protection. This requirement of democracy entails defining specific breaches and penalties in terms of budget and finance. A specialist administrative court for the purposes of prosecution meets this need. It is distinct from the Cour, but chaired by the First President.
The CDBF is composed of equal numbers of Council of state councillors and Cour chief auditors; the President of the finance division of the Council of state is vice-President of the Court. Cases are in principle brought before one of its two divisions. The Cour may however pronounce a verdict in full session on cases of particular importance. The functions of the prosecution service are exercised by the General Prosecutor to the Cour.
Subjects of investigation by the CDBF
The CDBF can investigate civil servants, civilian or military officers of the state, local authorities and their public institutions, as well as the representatives, administrators or officers of other bodies subject to auditing by the Cour and the Regional and Territorial Chambers of Accounts. It should be noted that the members of the Government cannot be investigated by the Cour. Likewise, local elected officials who are authorising officers can be investigated only in a limited number of cases specified by the Financial Courts Code. The statute of limitations for findings brought before the Budgetary and Financial discipline Court is five years, between the date upon which the offence was committed and the date on which referral of the matter to the General Prosecutor’s office is recorded (or the date of direct referral to the CDBF by the General Prosecutor).
The Council of Mandatory Contributions comes under the aegis of the Cour. It is in charge of assessing the economic, social and budget impact of all mandatory contributions and changes in these, as well as expressing recommendations on any question relating to mandatory contributions.
The CPO is chaired by the First President of the Cour and has sixteen members, eight of whom are magistrates or senior civil servants and eight of whom are other suitably qualified figures, usually from civil society, designated by the Ministers of the Economy and Finance, social Affairs, the interior, and the Presidents of the National Assembly, the Senate and the Economic and Social Council.
The CPO Contributions selects the topics on which it works on its own initiative, but may also, at the request of the Prime Minister or the Finance and social Affairs commissions of the National Assembly or the senate, be placed in charge of conducting studies relating to any question within its remit. It makes its work public in the form of an average of two reports per year.
The HCFP is an independent body wich required to deliver an opinion on a set of Finance Laws.
The HCFP is made up of 10 members drawn from various backgrounds: four members of the Cour, four experts appointed by Parliament (Head and Finance Committee of the two Chambers), one expert appointed by the Chairman of the Economic, Social and Environmental Board (consultative assembly of professional organizations and trade unions) and the Director general of the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies.
The missions of the HCFP revolve around three axes
The HCFP examines the soundness of macroeconomic forecasts and potential growth estimates on which draft finance laws are based, analyzes ex ante the consistency of annual targets set by finance laws with the multi-year structural balance trajectory and identifies ex post “significant observed deviations” arising from comparisons of past year law with the multiannual guidelines on structural balance defined in the programming laws.