More Chinese officials are to face audits of the environmental impact of their work, as the central government deepens reform to promote officials with strong environmental awareness.
The new reform was endorsed at the 36th meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform on June 26.
The regulation stated that if negative environmental impact was found in the audit, it would be taken into consideration even after officials leave their posts. As such audits would affect future promotions.
The assessment includes both environment and ecological damage and the local consumption of natural resources, which must be supervised within official duty.
Xinyu city, eastern China’s Jiangxi Province, is among a few cities in China that have piloted the reform. Zeng Changsheng, deputy head of the municipal auditing bureau, said since the reform started in March 2015, four officials had been audited for their work on the environment.
He said the assessment results were sent to the organization department of the city committee of the Communist Party of China, which is in charge of official appointments.
Collecting evidence with big data
“We have set up a new department to explore the assessment method, which requires complicated work. We have adopted satellite remote sensing solutions and big data technology to obtain evidence for auditing,” he said.
Zeng said the auditing of one official took auditors five-months work. “It is difficult to obtain evidence linking to officials’ direct obligations. Concerned departments lack records on real-time data reflecting natural resource quality and quantity,” Zeng said.
According to the audit office, a head of a district government and the city’s former environmental bureau chief were among those audited.
The auditors collected forest, water and soil monitoring data during their tenures, and trace their performance and local economic data to analyze how government actions and policies affect the data.
Zeng disclosed that the district government official was believed to be responsible for shrinking forest coverage and ineffective protection of good arable fields.
There were also issues in his work approving businesses, which had negative impact such as on the use of water resources and environmental problems.
Zeng said auditors also widely listened to public tip-offs on such matters.
Zhang Liping, head of the administration committee of Xiannu Lake Scenic Area, was one of the four audited officials.
She said the auditing regulation has grabbed the attention of grassroots officials, enhanced their environmental awareness and pushed them to comply with the central government’s call on green development.