SADCOPAC CLERK ATTACHMENT REPORT By: Ms BameLetsatle Public Accounts Committee Clerk - Botswana
SADCOPAC CLERK ATTACHMENT Acknowledgement On behalf of all PAC Clerks in the region, I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the World Bank and GIZ all persons who assisted me to fulfil the objectives of this programme. I would like to thank particularly the Parliament of Uganda for hosting me in their Parliament, for providing such information and clarifications, and it is my hope that we shall continue to receive similar measures of assistance and cooperation from them to ensure that the SADCOPAC initiatives are implemented. In addition I would like to thank the Uganda PAC Secretariat for the invaluable assistance rendered throughout the duration of the programme as well as in the compilation of this report.
Introduction • Duration of the Attachment The SADCOPAC Clerk Attachment started from 16th October 2013 to 1st November 2013. The aim of the attachment programme was to gain first-hand experience from other PAC Clerks and possibly see the practical procedures and processes and how they deal with the challenges they face on their daily duties. • Observations I spent most of the time observing the Uganda PAC examination. Parliamentary scrutiny of resources use by Government is carried out by the Public Accounts Committee via the oversight or accountability functions. By the rules of Procedure of Parliament, the Leadership of the Uganda PAC is vested in the Official Opposition. The committee is currently chaired by Hon Kassiano Wadri Ezati, MP. The Uganda PAC is established by the Constitution which provides powers and functions of Committee and it is specifically provided for under Rule No.148 of the Rules of Procedure. The Committee is comprised of twenty eight (28) Members of which sixteen (16) are from the ruling party.
PAC EXAMINATION cont.. • Uganda PAC is mandated to examine the audited accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted by Parliament to meet the public expenditure of government. • During the PAC examinations the following are always present to assist the Committee: • Auditor General – The work of PAC originates from the Office of the AG. The AG answers clarification questions.
PAC EXAMINATION cont.. The Researchers do possible questions concerning the queries. The Team discusses with the Chairperson and the Members of the Committee key issues prior to the meeting. • Legal Counsel – Puts out queries. • Four Officers from Criminal Investigation Department (CID). • PAC secretariat - The drafting of the PAC report is done by the PAC secretariat.
PAC EXAMINATION cont.. The PAC secretariat then gives the draft report to the Chairperson, and if he Okays it becomes the Chairperson’s draft report. The draft report is debated during the PAC meeting, where any changes can be proposed, and accepted or rejected. The findings, observations and recommendations are captured by the Legal Counsel and the PAC secretariat during the meeting and the rest of the recommendations are done by the Members. PAC compiles a report containing recommendations, which is then submitted to the House for consideration and adoption. Once the recommendations are adopted by the House, they are referred to the Executive for implementation. Within six months, the Executive is obligated to report the action taken on the recommendations of PAC/Parliament in the form of a report, called Treasury Memorandum. The Treasury Memorandum is by law supposed to be audited by the Auditor General, who in turn, reports to Parliament on his findings.
PAC EXAMINATION cont.. The Lead Counsel is a Senior Member of the Committee with wide experience in the operation of Government and always liaises with the Auditor General so as to be brought on board. I had an opportunity to observe the PAC examinations. Though there was a huge backlog of Auditor General’s reports that have not yet been examined by the Committee, the examinations were concluded well on the scheduled time.
ISSUES • OBJECTIVES OF SADCOPAC This paper is dedicated to identifying what might be referred to as “best practices” of PAC Clerks, based on comparative experience. The issue of what exactly constitutes “best practices” is not always evident. Much depends on institutional settings, needs and contexts that can vary considerably between countries.
ISSUES cont….. • The objectives of the PAC Clerk attachment programme were as follows: • Writing a good report in a short time. • Relationship of PAC towards the media, civil society organizations and the public at large, particularly in relation to parliamentary hearings. • Unclear job descriptions. • Members don’t read their documents. • Role of a PAC clerk. • Distribution of committee work schedule. • Staffing norms. • Confidentiality, Ethics and Non Partisanship • Role of Treasury Board • Parliamentary Procedure • Parliamentary Committees • Office of Protocol
ISSUES cont….. • After the attachment one should share the experiences they gained from the host Parliament. Sharing of the information could be done through the wiki, email and during PAC Clerk training workshops/conferences. • PAC Clerk attachment is of critical importance in matters of oversight and good governance and it is important that the project is effectively managed for all concerned parties to benefit. After attachment one will be able to: • Obtain fresh ideas from fellow Clerks that can be used to meet both short term and long term manpower needs so as to promote the positive image of individual Parliaments.
Role of a PAC clerk. Appropriate staffing is essential if parliamentary committees are to function effectively. Committees often need different categories of staff if they are to achieve their optimum best. Parliamentary Committees often need staff to assist with procedural issues, administrative matters, assist with drafting bills, and provide expert opinion and analysis on major policy issues. They need clerks, researchers, legislative reporters, legal draftsmen, and other support staff. Committees are managed by committee clerks who give procedural advice to the committee; take minutes of the committee meetings; receive and store documents on behalf of committees; and carry out administrative duties. They also assist in recordkeeping, arranging witnesses, advising members on procedures, In essence the committee clerk is responsible for coordinating affairs and ensuring that the committee chairperson and members have the needed support to be effective.
Parliamentary Committees The mandate and the functions of committees are often clearly stated in the national Constitution and in the rules of orders that govern the functioning of the parliament. Generally, committees have the power to take evidence or call for documents; send for persons, papers, and records. Committees also have the power to regulate their own procedure within the mandate of the parliament as a whole.
CONCLUSION • Committees are managed by committee clerks who give procedural advice to the Committee. It is the responsibility of the Committee Clerk to coordinate all the activities of the Committee and ensure that the Members are given the necessary assistance they require, hence it is critical to continually train them to enhance their knowledge.