The role and management o of the scrutiny unit
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The Role and Management o of the Scrutiny Unit. Jessica Mulley, Head of the Scrutiny Unit June 2013. Scrutiny Unit. Established in 2002 Part of the Commons Committee Office Directorate

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The role and management o of the scrutiny unit

The Role and Management o of the Scrutiny Unit

Jessica Mulley, Head of the Scrutiny Unit

June 2013

Scrutiny unit

Scrutiny Unit

  • Established in 2002

  • Part of the Commons Committee Office Directorate

  • Staff skills now include Parliamentary procedure, Scrutiny management, Accountancy and auditing, Economics, Statistics, Legal and legislative analysis, Administrative support

  • Works in partnership with Select Committee Secretariats and Department for Information Services

Why we were set up

Why we were set up

  • To strengthen the scrutiny role of the House, particularly

    • Financial scrutiny

    • Pre-legislative scrutiny

  • To fulfil commitment to more specialist staff for select committees

  • to support common objectives for select committees (which include scrutiny of spending and performance)

Supporting select committees overview

Supporting Select Committees - overview

  • Liaison Committee agreed core tasks:

    • Examine Departments’ spending plans and spending

    • Examine objectives, targets and outcomes

  • Scrutiny of Government finances and performance

  • Scrutiny of legislation

  • Support Joint Committees (with House of Lords)

    • Scrutiny of Draft Legislation

    • Supports Public Bill Committees

    • Scrutiny of Bills

    • Policy support & evidence taking (sometimes)

    • Administrative Support (always)

Supporting select committees in practice

Supporting Select Committees in practice

  • Briefing Committees (private sessions)

  • Staff Training

  • Written guidance, website and booklets

  • Discussions with Government (e.g. Treasury) on improving information given to Parliament

  • Providing advice to Liaison Committee on proposals for change (e.g. Alignment, mid year reports)

  • Inquiry management support

  • Pre-Legislative Scrutiny

  • Post-Legislative Scrutiny

Legislative scrutiny

Legislative Scrutiny

  • Draft Bills:

    • Procedural, legal, research and other specialist advice and administrative support for ad hoc Joint Committees (in partnership with the House of Lords)

    • Specialist advice and assistance to Departmental Select Committees in scrutinising draft bills

  • Public Bill Committees:

    • Coordinates evidence-taking sessions incl. receipt and circulation of written submissions

    • Arranging or providing briefing for Committee members for any oral evidence sessions

Financial scrutiny what scrutiny unit does

Financial scrutiny- what Scrutiny Unit does

  • Analyses financial documents

  • Prepares briefing notes and written questions

  • Briefs committees orally, answers their questions or gives presentations

  • Works with Committee teams

    • on briefing and questions to Ministers on financial matters for hearings

    • on financial and economic aspects of inquiries including writing reports

Committee support regular financial events

Committee Support (regular financial events)

Scrutiny Unit support includes

  • Establishing facts:

    • what money is being spent on

    • Identifying changes in spending and trends

  • Questioning can cover

    • Strategy and option appraisal

    • The value added by the spending and value for money

    • Delivery and implementation, capacity etc

    • Monitoring and outcomes

    • Review, revision and lessons learnt

Other financial scrutiny support examples

Other Financial Scrutiny Support- examples

  • Presentations, training etc

  • Briefing to Committees and Committee Staff

  • Responding to Treasury and National Audit Office on emerging financial reporting issues

  • Providing advice to Liaison Committee on proposals for change

  • Economic Support and Analysis e.g. Impact Assessments

  • Writing sections of Committee Reports (where relevant)

Financial scrutiny what does it achieve

Financial scrutiny: what does it achieve?

  • Greater openness and transparency

  • Accountability to public and Parliament for taxpayers’ money

  • Incentives to

    • Ensure decisions are fully thought through and defensible before they are taken

    • justify spending based on evidence

    • consider alternative views and options proposed

    • Possibly even to review and amend future plans

    • Establish procedures to avoid embarrassment (eg avoid wasteful spending or minimise fraud)

Supporting corporate functions

Supporting Corporate Functions

  • Drawing on SU’s wide skills and experience base, help with

    • Outreach

    • Internal Audit

    • Library Research and Inquiries

    • Public Understanding

    • IT and technology tools

  • Practical examples: Staff survey analysis; income generation support; Speaker’s Committees; Hack Weekend

Scrutiny unit management

Scrutiny Unit Management

  • Part of Commons Committee Office, Department of Chamber and Committee Services

  • Lead by Head of Unit and sub-divided into three teams

  • Reports to the Clerk of Committees and Committee Office Management Group

  • Resources drawn from general Committee Office budgets

  • Permanent staff supported by range of secondees, staff on loan, and short-term appointments

Su interns and fellows programme

SU Interns and Fellows Programme

  • Drawn from range of academic, public and third sector institutions

  • Subject to same requirements on political impartiality and confidentiality

  • Work either directly in the SU or placed with a select committee

Any questions

Any questions?

  • Scrutiny Unit web pages

    Email: [email protected]

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