The changing role of parliament in the budget process
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The Changing Role of Parliament in the Budget Process. The Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT) in collaboration with Sigma and MATRA FLEX Afyonkarahisar, Turkey 8-9 October 2008. The Parliament and the Budget. Enhancing its Capacity for Oversight Prof. Daniel Tarschys.

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The Changing Role of Parliament in the Budget Process

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The ChangingRole of Parliamentin the Budget Process

The Grand National Assembly of Turkey (GNAT)in collaboration with Sigma



Afyonkarahisar, Turkey8-9 October 2008

The Parliament and the Budget

Enhancing its Capacity for Oversight

Prof. Daniel Tarschys

”The Power over the Purse”

  • Early rulers convened ”grand councils” when they needed new aids and contributions

  • Meanwhile, they relied on their ”small councils”

  • Eventually, these two fluid bodies were institutionalised into parliaments and cabinets

The Power Balance under Parliamentarism

  • Parliaments are formally the ultimate decision-makers on money matters

  • But under parliamentarism, most real decisions are nevertheless made by governments

The Stages of Budgeting

  • requests,

  • central priority-setting,

  • legislation,

  • execution,

  • auditing

  • scrutiny.

Where Does Parliament Come In?

  • requests,

  • central priority-setting,

  • legislation,

  • execution,

  • auditing

  • scrutiny.

Involvement in the legislative phase

  • US Congress vs UK Parliament

  • Most countries: very few amendments

  • Three Models of Budgetary Examination:

    * single budget committee

    * specialised committees

    * mixed solution

Models for Auditing

  • Anglo-Saxon Model: Comptroller General

  • Mediterranean Model: Court of Auditors

  • N. & E. European Model: Auditing Agency

Parliament & the Audit

Involvement in appointment?

Report to parliament? If so, to whom? Public accounts committee, or specialised committees?

Extensive treatment in parliament?

Holding the Executive Accountable

Why parliamentary oversight matters:

  • morale and motivation in the executive branch

  • confidence and legitimacy

  • policy learning and policy innovation

  • social consensus

Impotent parliaments? No!

  • Resource matters often decided outside the budgetary process.

  • The budget is mainly a summary of previous decisions.

  • Parliamentary discussions affect the parameters for governmental action

  • The power of questions

Questions on public expenditures

  • Questions on disbursements (regularity, legality, eligibility)

  • Questions on output (effectiveness, efficiency, economy)

  • Questions about outcomes and impact

Sources of information

  • Disbursements (regularity, legality, eligibility): AUDITS

  • Output (effectiveness, efficiency, economy): EVALUATION

  • Questions about outcomes and impact


Designing procedures for parliamentary scrutiny

  • Institutional issues: which committees are involved?

  • Informational issues: on which basis can parliaments raise questions about budgetary performance? Spoon-fed by government, or independent sources?

  • Procedural issues: how should the proceedings be organised to make an impact?

Institutional issues

  • Annual discharge procedures?

  • Public accounts committees, or specialised committees?

  • Special rapporteurs?

Performance budgeting: do parliaments care?

  • “There is very little direct evidence that performance information in budgets and annual reports is directly used by members of parliament in their oversight”

    Miekatrien Sterck & Geert Bouckaert 2006

Analytical resources

  • Scrutiny of government reports

  • Staff assistance (in parties, in committees, or in general parliamentary research services)

  • External resources (modalities for use, hearings, reports).

Formating parliamentary discussions

  • From agora to chamber to studio

  • The new parliamentary balcony is in the living-room

  • In an age of massive entertainment, will the audience stay tuned?

Setting the stage for parliamentary oversight

  • Architecture

  • Scenography

  • Dramaturgy

Parliamentary cooperation

  • Inter-parliamentary Union

  • Parliamentary Assemblies


  • Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments (ASGP)

  • International Political Science Association: research group on legislative studies

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