Parliamentary oversight is one of the three core democratic roles of parliamentarians. GOPAC focuses on oversight as related to financial and operational integrity, rather than broader economic or social policy. It is the duty of parliamentarians to require the Executive Branch to follow the rules related to financial operations, and for the government to openly report to Parliament on its exercise of the Executive’s powers and public resources granted.
Oversight of financial integrity includes:
- the review of all sources of revenue and expenditures, including tax expenditures (preferences);
- legislation and other parliamentary rules related to government budgeting, debt management, expenditure operations (including for example as related to procurement and provision of grants), and financial reporting; and
- legislation and other rules which guide and enable parliament to effectively oversee the implementation of the government’s obligations related to the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
Parliamentary Oversight Global Task Force
The Parliamentary Oversight Global Task Force (GTF-PO) focuses on financial and operational integrity which includes: the on-going review of all government revenue and expenditures; and legislation and other parliamentary rules establishing government financial control practices, procedures to account for and report revenues and expenditures, as well as procedures and authorities for parliamentary oversight of financial administration. It also includes legislation and other rules which guide and enable parliament to oversee the implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
GTF-PO believes that improved oversight plays an important role in preventing corruption.
In the near term the Global Task Force will focus on:
- incentives for oversight – measures that can be taken by Parliaments and parliamentarians;
- oversight of UNCAC implementation;
- oversight of development aid and revenues from extractive industries (i.e. resource revenue transparency); and
- the adaptation of the Financial Oversight handbook for parliamentarians to better align with regional and national circumstances.
Dr. Gavin Woods, Chair GTF-PO, Former Member of Parliament,South Africa
César Jáuregui Robles, Former MP and Senator, Mexico
Willias Madzimure, Member of Parliament, Zimbabwe
Dr. Donya Aziz, Member of National Assembly, Pakistan
Abdullrazag Al-Hegri, Member of Parliament, Yemen
Hon. Bryon Wilfert, Former Member of Parliament, Canada
Eva Sundari, Member of Parliament, Indonesia
GTF-PO Position Statement
In order to ensure parliamentary oversight, parliamentarians should encourage regional chapters to consider adapting the GOPAC global position statement and its handbook on parliamentary oversight to better tailor these tools to regional and national needs.
Parliaments should consider undertaking internal and external measures as follows:
- ensure that they have the powers to authorize all revenues (tax rates, royalties, fee structures) and
expenditures – including expenditures by Ministries and programs – and any executive decrees should be carefully circumscribed and require subsequent parliamentary review and approval;
- have the authority to set its own budget and the budgets of parliamentary support agencies, but do so only for core parliamentary functions;
- establish, as required, procedures for the approval of budgets and reports on actual expenditures and results;
- provide in its budget the services of professional staff to assist it in its plenary and committee duties;
- have the authority to call witnesses, including ministers and officials, in a way which requires their attendance and response to hearings related to parliamentary oversight;
- if the executive proposes and parliament agrees to provide continuing authority for certain programs (entitlements), Parliament should review these provisions to ensure it has the powers and resources to oversee such expenditure in a manner equivalent to its oversight of annually approved expenditures;
- set out through legislation core standards for the Executive Branch utilization of all financial instruments, including procurement, contracts, grants, and loans;
- set out standards for reporting to parliament (and parliamentary access to) actual revenues, expenditures and results;
- set out through legislation standards for the public service, including appointment, compensation, and accountability; and
- establish, as a parliamentary agency, an independent audit Office with the power to audit departmental reports and operations, and report to parliament promptly and openly on its findings.