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External Oversight: Legislative Oversight

 

 

International Good Practices and Reference Models

Profiles of Parliamentary Budget Institutions: These presentations from the first annual meeting of the OECD Parliamentary Budget Officials in Rome, Februrary 2009, explain the role of parliamentary committees in the budget process in the following countries:
o Australia
o Brazil
o Canada
o Germany
o Ireland
o Italy
o The Netherlands
o Portugal
o Korea
o Switzerland
o United Kingdom
o United States

Legislatures and Budget Oversight: Best Practices (Presented at the Open Forum held by Kazakhstan Revenue Watch in Almaty on April 8, 2004): The aim of this paper is to consider the conditions for effective parliamentary oversight of the budget based on a review of best practices in a set of developed and developing countries.

Parliament and the Power of the Purse: The Nigerian Constitution of 1999 in Comparative Perspective (Published by the Journal of African Law): This article clarifies and assesses the legal powers of the Nigerian Parliament with regard to the budget in a comparative context. Given that the Nigerian Constitution is currently under review, an additional aim of this analysis is to identify possible weaknesses that might be addressed as part of a redrafting or amendment process.

Accountability for the 21st Century: Supporting the Scrutiny function of Parliaments and Legislatures (by Edward Hedger and andreq Blick of the Overseas Development Institute): This paper examines the objectives of public accountability, the roles of PACs and SAIs in the public accountability process, and possible options for PACs and SAIs to improve their practices and strengthen their influence.

Accountability and the Public Accounts Committee - Lessons in Parliamentary Oversight- the United Kingdom experience (by John F. McEldowney, School of Law, University of Warwick, England): This paper provides a case study of the work of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the independent National Audit Office (NAO) in the United Kingdom system of financial control. The setting up of the PAC is examined in its historical background showing how the need for a PAC was recognised as a necessity to provide the House of Commons with political authority for its financial decisions.

-         Accountability for the 21st Century:  Supporting the scrutiny function of Parliaments and Legislatures (by Edward Hedger and Andrew Blick of the Overseas Development Institute):  This paper examines the objectives of public accountability, the roles of PACs and SAIs in the public accountability process, and possible options for PACs and SAIs to improve their practices and strengthen their influence.

M:\PFM Good Practices DB\PFM Backup Links\Supporting the scrutiny function of Parliaments and Legislatures.pdf

-     Accountability and the Public Accounts Committee - Lessons in Parliamentary Oversight- theUnited Kingdom experience (by John F. McEldowney, School of Law, University of Warwick, England): This paper provides a case study of the work of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the independent National Audit Office (NAO) in the United Kingdom system of financial control. The setting up of the PAC is examined in its historical background showing how the need for a PAC was recognised as a necessity to provide the House of Commons with political authority for its financial decisions.

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Guidance and Tips

Guideline for Legislative Oversight through Annual Reports (Produced by the National Treasury of South Africa):  Annual reports allow Parliament to evaluate the performance of a department after the end of the financial year. To date the end-year or ex post oversight mechanisms in legislatures have been relatively weak, as legislatures have focused on narrow financial oversight only, through the public accounts committee process. Before 2000, there was no oversight over non-financial service delivery performance, and departments only tabled their financial statements and Audit Report, rather than an annual report.

Strategy for Strengthening the Public Audit Function in South Asia – Risks and Opportunities (by Vinod Sahgal for the Regional Auditors’ General Conference on Harmonizing Institutional Efforts for Promoting Accountability in the Public Sector):  This paper introduces emerging best practices and discusses the challenges, risks, and opportunities facing donors and SAIs in South Asia.

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Country Case Studies and Lessons Learnt

Budget Institutions and Fiscal Responsibility: Parliaments and the Political Economy of the Budget Process (Produced by the World Bank Institute): This essay explores the contribution of parliaments to the budget process in presidential systems of government with highly centralized budgetary systems.  It offers a political economy perspective on the budget process in Latin America and reveals increased legislative budget activism since the restoration of democracy.

Policy, Budgeting and Oversight - The Role of the Legislature (Produced by the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative): This chapter sets out options for designing a role for Parliament that allows it sufficient oversight, while managing the risk of ill-disciplined parliamentary action leading to excess spending, or Parliament becoming a conduit for narrow, ineffective spending demands. In the Uganda case study, Ishmael M Magona of the Uganda Ministry of Finance and Planning illustrates that there are real public finance benefits to be derived from a co-operative relationship with an empowered Parliament.

Does the Parliament Make a Difference? The Role of the Italian Parliament in Financial Policy (Published by the School of Economics and Social Science, SMU): The Italian Parliament is an excellent preliminary case study for the theory that institutional and political conditions influence Parliament’s ability to modify the national budget for two reasons. On the institutional side, the Italian has a complex array of procedural opportunities within the legislature, which may encourage extensive parliamentary activity during the amendment and the passage of the budget. On the political side, Italy has experienced undisciplined parties (and coalitions) and government instability, both of which have led to general legislative ineffectiveness. This paper focuses that which role of parliament is more important, institutional or political.      

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Other Reference Materials

Banking on Accountability? Strengthening Budget Oversight and Public Sector Auditing in EmergingEconomies (Published by the United Kingdom Department for International Development in Glasgow, UK): This study reviews a decade of support by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank to parliaments and external audit agencies in Latin America. It underscores recent developments in development finance reflecting a broader understanding of the determinants of fiscal credibility and financial integrity. It reveals a learning curve in multilateral assistance to budget oversight institutions. It argues that there exists unexplored potential to improve the effectiveness of multilateral assistance to budget oversight institutions, including in the choice of strategies and instruments. More fundamentally, it underscores the need to tackle the underlying political economy of public finance accountability.

Audit and Legislative Oversight Developing Country Perspective (Produced by the World Bank): This paper discusses the system of public financial management and accountability in the Common-wealth (Westminster form of Governance) have inherited from colonial times along with recent experience on the working of the System of audit and legislative oversight. It points to: critical relationships involved in the process of holding the Executive arm of Government to account in pursuit of democratic governance – the role of “the Three Men in the Boat;” First Principles that underlie the legislative oversight function; the factors that Legislators believe are most important for the effectiveness of public scrutiny; the constraints and challenges ahead and some suggestions for further improvements that are noted from research of the System.        

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