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essay on importance of accountability

essay on importance of accountabilityEssay on importance of accountability -International experience once again provides examples to support this approach.Canada’s Constitution establishes our system of responsible government.It is essential for the well-being of Canada that its Parliament enjoys public respect, rather than being criticized for a lack of transparency in public spending that would be open to scrutiny in other jurisdictions.A recent media article has highlighted, “how the coziness of behind-closed doors collegial oversight can create a culture that enables fiddling expenses.” A prime concern with the current system is that the mechanisms for setting, reimbursing, and overseeing expenses and entitlements are not independent from the people who stand to benefit from them.We hope that it will assist members of the Committee in their deliberations.With respect to the use of public funds, the High Court stated, “At a time when trust in our elected representatives is at a very low ebb, it is important that politicians are accountable to the public they serve and are seen to be bound by the same conventions as the electorate.” I am of the view that these various notions of accountability apply equally to our Members of Parliament.In addition, governance could be improved by creating oversight mechanisms that are independent of Parliament, such as an independent body with responsibilities relating to member’s expenses.When the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was created in the United Kingdom, it was determined that an independent body responsible for putting together and administering an expense scheme for members of Parliament does not trespass on parliamentary privilege.It is their responsibility to carry out their assigned mandate in light of these expectations.In the past, my office has conducted performance audits of the House of Commons upon invitation.I would welcome a clear statutory mandate as the auditor of the House of Commons.Clearer policies and processes for parliamentary expenditures and more detailed public disclosure of members’ expenses would significantly improve transparency.As an independent Agent of Parliament, the Office of the Auditor General has long played a role in promoting accountability.It involves rendering an account of how responsibilities have been carried out; taking corrective action and fixing any problems that have been identified; and, depending on the circumstances, accepting personal consequences if the matter is attributable to the office holder’s own action or inaction.They provide the fact-based information that Parliament needs to fulfill one of its most important roles: holding the federal government accountable for its stewardship of public funds.It is my view that implementing similar mechanisms may strengthen accountability of members.The New Brunswick Auditor General reported on the Constituency Office Costs for Members of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council in 2011.As Justice Gomery stated in the context of the Sponsorship Inquiry: . The best managers are those whose administrative practices are transparent and who accept that they are accountable not only to their superiors but also to the shareholders of the corporation.In response, the House of Commons passed a motion on 21 October 2013 asking the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to undertake a broad examination of the administrative oversight systems, policies, and practices of the House of Commons.Under sections 1, 9 and 14 of the Manitoba Auditor General Act, section 1 of the Manitoba , the Auditor General of Manitoba conducts audits of member’s allowances.essay on importance of accountabilityTransparency may also encourage members to make better value for money choices and allow for informed public debate.The Committee must report its findings to the House not later than 2 December 2013.Key points of the motion include While this motion acknowledges the importance of accountability and transparency for responsible government, a third element—governance—is also fundamental to ensure that elected officials are accountable to Canadians.In most Canadian provinces, Auditors General have a clear legislative mandate to audit the spending of the Legislative Assemblies, including MPPs expenses.I want to elaborate, in particular, on Canadian and international experience with independent audits and oversight as methods to strengthen accountability.Agents of Parliament are required to make these disclosures by government policy.As a result, increased public disclosure of expenses is becoming the norm.Where the expenditure of public money is involved, openness and accountability are essential to maintain public confidence.To ensure accountability, there is a need for transparency.However, also tied to this is the institutional accountability of members of Parliament, collectively and individually.The ongoing investigations into housing and other expenses claimed by certain Senators have prompted commentary on governance and accountability of the legislative branch of government.As long as there are questions about the transparency of payments made to members, the public will have doubts about the integrity of the whole system.It suggests approaches to strengthen these elements and provides examples from significant audits of members’ spending from federal, provincial, and international jurisdictions.In my view, creating oversight mechanisms that are independent of Parliament should be considered to improve governance of parliamentary expenses and enhance public trust in the parliamentary system.I admit that I have very little experience of administration and it was a risk for the 2008 Council to elect me, the newest and most inexperienced of bishops.For example, in Manitoba, on September 1, 2010, an Allowances Commissioner was appointed with the mandate to review the Auditor General’s 2009 Report as it relates to Members’ allowances, to decide what regulations or amendments to existing regulations should be made in order to implement the recommendations contained in the Auditor General’s Report and to make regulations requiring details about members’ allowances and how they should be published. The British Columbia Auditor General conducted an audit of the Legislative Assembly’s Financial Records in 2012.This is the first aspect of responsible government.Under this system, the executive branch of government (Ministers and the public service) is accountable to the legislative branch (House and Senate), and the House and Senate are accountable to the electorate—the people of Canada.The Newfoundland Auditor General conducted a review of constituency allowance claims from 1989-1990 through to 2005-2006 in 2007.The report from the Treasury Board to Parliament entitled Meeting the Expectations of Canadians: Review of the Responsibilities and Accountabilities of Ministers and Senior Officials (2005) defined the notion of accountability as: the means of explaining and enforcing responsibility. essay on importance of accountability In Nova Scotia, the Auditor General is the auditor of the House of Assembly (sections 2, 18, 21 and 25(2) of the Nova Scotia .Once again, international experience provides some insight.The resolution, with amendment, was adopted with 269 votes in favor, and 178 against.I have worked very hard to fulfill your expectations. These three years have been an administrative disaster.A resolution attempting the reduction of the current OCA Assessment has been passed in a confusing vote by the 16th All American Council in Seattle this afternoon.The New Brunswick Auditor General conducts audits of the Legislative Committees under sections 9 and 15(1) of the New Brunswick .As a result, members’ expenses and allowances attract significant criticism and media attention.The Nova Scotia Auditor General reported on the Office of the Speaker Member’s Constituency and other expenses in 2010.In the United Kingdom, the concept of parliamentary accountability is based on the premise that: Parliament, as the highest representative organ of government, has the duty to check on the activities of the executive through a number of measures.A lack of transparency makes it possible for the public to make allegations that members subvert process and bypass lines of accountability.The reduction resolution was amended to maintain the current $105 assessment for 2012, and then "Proportionately", however, was not defined in the resolution, so as to allow the Metropolitan Council "flexibility" over the next triennium.It determines its own agenda, controls its own proceedings, and its decisions are free from judicial review.In our 2002 study on Modernizing Accountability in the Public Sector, we proposed the following enhanced definition of accountability in public management: Accountability is a relationship based on obligations to demonstrate, review, and take responsibility for performance, both the results achieved in light of agreed expectations and the means used.It can make and change its own rules, and manage its internal affairs without outside interference.I recognize that the House of Commons enjoys the exclusive right to control its debates and proceedings.The paper highlighted mechanisms that strengthen the chain of accountability including: accountability sessions with parliamentary committees; the use of independent audit committees chaired by external members; the use of internal audits; and annual, independent financial and performance audits conducted by the Auditor General.The last Manitoba Auditor General report was in 2009. Derek Green, Rebuilding Confidence: Report of the Review Commission on Constituency Allowances and Related Matters, 2007 [PDF], section 23 of the Newfoundland House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act and sections 15 and 17 of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly Commission Act Report of the Auditor General to the House of Assembly on a Review of Constituency Allowance Claims 1989-90 through to 2005-06, 2007 [PDF] To access the Portable Document Format (PDF) version you must have a PDF reader installed.What impact would creating a new independent body have on this privilege?In my view, the Office of the Auditor General also plays a role in this area.I believe that independent audits and some form of oversight would strengthen members’ accountability and enhance the public’s confidence in the governance mechanisms of the House of Commons. essay on importance of accountability - Mark Stokoe _______________________________________________________________________________ 11.1.11 “.... These last three years have been the three most difficult years of my life.In my view, it is not possible for an individual to be held accountable if that individual’s actions do not come to light.The Newfoundland Auditor General conducts audits of the House of Assembly under sections 2 and 12 of the Newfoundland .The Committee may wish to examine in more detail experiences from Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, which are summarized below.The objective of the Committee’s work is to bring full transparency and accountability to House of Commons’ spending.Transparency does not guarantee accountability but makes it possible.While these policies do not apply to members, I believe the Committee should consider some of these reporting practices in its review.Finally, independent audits would strengthen the overall accountability of members and enhance the public’s confidence in the governance mechanisms of the House of Commons.For ease of reference, the term “members” in this paper means the members of the House of Commons. There are many definitions of accountability, each tailored to a particular relationship.As long as members continue to have exclusive determination of their own entitlements, there is a risk of public suspicion about the legitimacy of those entitlements.I believe that transparency should be enhanced by providing clearer policies and processes for parliamentary expenditures.Parliamentary privilege refers to the sum of the privileges, immunities, and powers enjoyed by the House of Commons and each member individually, without which they could not fulfill their functions.The Agents of Parliament discussed the structural and institutional features of their organizations and the safeguards they use to promote transparency, accountability, and good governance.Members are accountable to one another in the House and to the public for their actions.Our reports are objective, non-partisan, and reliable.And I need to accept full responsibility for that and for my part in it.Such negative attention can undermine public confidence in the integrity of the parliamentary system.Members must be properly supported in order to carry out their duties effectively.Unfavourable public perceptions appear inevitable when individuals are involved in determining the benefits they receive.More detailed public disclosure of members’ expenses through reporting and auditing, would significantly improve transparency and, as a result, accountability. In recent years, several countries have advanced significantly in increasing transparency related to members’ expenses. In my view, the observations quoted above about the value of transparency apply equally in Canada. a key concept that may be learned from the private sector: greater transparency promotes accountability and better management. essay on importance of accountability It is essential for the well-being of Canada that its Parliament enjoys public respect, rather than being criticized for a lack of transparency in public spending that would be open to scrutiny in other jurisdictions. essay on importance of accountability




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