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Oversight Tips

October 28, 2020
5 Planning Tips to Help Focus Your PAC’s Work

The most effective public accounts committees (PACs) attribute some of their success to advanced planning.

Here are some tips that will help your committee focus on priority issues and stay on track:

Oversight Tip 1

Establish a steering committee

A steering committee with representatives from all parties can take the lead on setting the PAC’s priorities in motion. This can include proposing meeting and hearing dates and times, audit reports to be looked at, meeting agendas, and witnesses to be called. The full committee then ratifies all steering committee decisions.

Oversight Tip 2

Set regular meetings

Committee members’ schedules fill up quickly. If rules and procedures allow it, PACs should set regular meeting and/or hearing times. If regular meetings cannot be set, meeting dates should be scheduled as far in advance as possible. This will make it easier for the committee to coordinate everyone’s time and plan around the release of the legislative auditor’s reports.

Oversight Tip 3

Determine agendas and objectives in advance

A clear agenda set in advance will help keep members focused during meetings. An effective agenda should define the objectives of the meeting. These objectives should be agreed upon by all members so that they have a shared understanding of the purpose of the meeting/hearing.

Oversight Tip 4

Coordinate with the legislative auditor

There are two ways the PAC can work with the legislative auditor to support its planning.

First, the committee can ask the legislative auditor to provide the tabling dates of audit reports. With this information, the committee can plan its hearings around those dates and ensure that the issues being raised are addressed in a timely way.

Second, the PAC may find it useful to meet in camera with the legislative auditor in advance of hearings. The legislative auditor can provide committee members with more context on the audit and clarify any questions members may have. A better understanding of the issues being addressed will help focus hearings.

Oversight Tip 5

Work with your committee’s support staff

Your PAC’s clerk and/or analyst/researcher are there to support the work of the committee and can be invaluable resources for planning. From participating in steering committee meetings, providing briefings and suggested questions in advance of hearings, and keeping minutes to track significant progress and agreements, support staff can help ensure the committee stays on track and has reliable information to guide future work.

What to learn more about good practices for PACs? Read our publication: Accountability in Action: Good Practices for Public Accounts Committees.


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