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Oversight Tips


5 Practices Your Public Accounts Committee Can Adopt to Improve Cross-Party Collaboration

The role of the PAC is different than that of other committees. PAC members need to work together across parties and focus on ensuring accountability and improving public administration.

Here are ways PAC members can foster collaboration.

Audit Tip 1

Focus on how the policy was carried out

Examine how things were done, not why things were done. Policy discussions should happen in other legislative committees.

Audit Tip 2

Park your politics at the door

Strive for all-party agreement. When members from all parties agree on something, the public service takes notice. By reaching consensus in its reports and recommendations, the PAC ensures that its positions are non-partisan and provides clarity to the public service on what to do.

Audit Tip 3

Set rules for speaking and timing during meetings

Set rules for the order and timing of speakers, which ensures that all members can ask questions in a predictable and fair manner.

Audit Tip 4

Question witnesses fairly and focus on the issues

Focus on fixing problems and on issues identified in the auditor general’s report when asking questions. Avoid lobbing “softball questions” to witnesses, and do not use meetings as a platform for “gotcha” style politics or to score political points.

Audit Tip 5

Talk to your party leadership about putting the right members on the committee

Speak to your party leader or whip about ensuring that members selected for the PAC have enough political experience to balance constituent needs and the need to improve public administration. Membership should be as consistent as possible, avoiding frequent substitutions and turnover. Ministers should not be part of the committee.