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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