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June 27, 2019
 
Visiting Research Director Will Develop Training for PAC Staff

Dillan TheckedathWe are pleased to welcome a new Visiting Research Director to support our parliamentary oversight program. Dillan Theckedath will lead the creation of training materials for Public Accounts Committee (PAC) support staff.

Mr. Theckedath is an analyst with the Parliamentary Information and Research Service (Library of Parliament) assigned to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Dalhousie University. In 2018, Mr. Theckedath attended the annual Joint Conference of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees and Canadian Council of Legislative Auditors, where he made a presentation about how Library support staff assist the Committee to fulfill its role.

Support staff, such as clerks, researchers and analysts, are the foundation of an effective parliamentary system, including its committees. Not only do they assist with the work of committees (with research, draft reports, and advice), but they provide continuity as committee membership changes.

The initiative to develop training for support staff was sparked by a request from Rwanda’s PAC. We held a workshop on Sustaining an Effective PAC in Rwanda in January 2019, as part of our International Governance, Accountability and Performance program, funded by Global Affairs Canada. At that time, both PAC members and support staff suggested that specialized training for the staff would benefit the committee.

Rwanda’s request for this training was inspired by the recognition of the unique skill set required of PAC staff. Public Accounts Committees differ from other parliamentary committees in some notable ways; for instance, PACs are usually chaired by an opposition member and focus on the administration of policy, not the merits of policy.

The new training material will cater specifically to support staff on Public Accounts Committees. They will provide PAC staff in our partner countries, and those in Canadian jurisdictions, with tools to support their work to maintain or improve their committee's performance and effectiveness.

It was David Christopherson, a Vice-Chair of Canada’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts and a member of the CAAF Board of Directors, who suggested that Mr. Theckedath lead this initiative with CAAF. Mr. Christopherson co-facilitated our workshop in Rwanda and agreed with the need to develop specialized training for PAC support staff. Support staff are the “magic elixir” that enables committees to work well, he said, “because we have such trust in their professionalism.” He added, “I can’t say enough about Dillan and the work he does with our Committee, and I am glad to know his work on this project will help CAAF assist the staff of other PACs, in Canada and internationally.”

We will launch the development of this training by gathering input from current and former PAC support staff. If you are interested in contributing to this project, please contact our Director of Oversight, Lesley Burns, at lburns@caaf-fcar.ca.

Thank you to the Library of Parliament for making this program possible through their support. Mr. Theckedath will join CAAF on a part time basis from June to October 2019. He can be contacted at dtheckedath@caaf-fcar.ca.