Strengthening Parliamentary Oversight (SPO) in Bangladesh
Ensuring greater efficiency, transparency and accountability through improved financial oversight is a key aim of the Government of Bangladesh’s public financial management reform programme. We are working with the Government to strengthen the work of the Parliamentary committees responsible for overseeing public expenditure and accounts. This project focuses on building capacity within these committees and improving public access to information about their work. This is being achieved through technical advice and training based on needs assessments of officers and members, and the development of performance monitoring and management information systems.
As part of a programme of public financial management reforms, the Government of Bangladesh has identified the need to strengthen parliamentary oversight. Three Parliamentary committees are responsible for ensuring financial accountability within the administration: the Committee on Estimates (EC) scrutinises the financial estimates of the executive wing of government while the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Committee on Public Undertakings (PUC) review audit reports on the accounts of central government and state owned enterprises, respectively.
All three committees face difficulties performing their roles due to limited technical and institutional resources and support as well as a lack of formal business processes and procedures. In addition, despite the recent passing of the Right to Information Act in Bangladesh, there is a general lack of awareness that information generated by Parliament is publicly owned and should be easily accessible within the public domain. This is limiting the extent to which citizens can engage with and influence the prioritisation of public service expenditure and government accountability.
This project is addressing these issues by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the committees, strengthening secretariat support for them as well as facilitating the move towards modern business processes and procedures. Improving public access to information about the oversight committees is also a key focus of the project.
We are leading a team of consultants working with parliamentary officers and committee members to assess their needs and develop and implement solutions. A comprehensive review of current processes and procedures has been carried out with committee chairs, committee members and secretariat officers. The following technical support programme is being delivered:
- Development of operations manuals and advice notes on updating and streamlining committee procedures and processes
- Drafting of policy briefing notes on international best practice areas and organisations
- Design and development of an effective performance monitoring system that measures outputs against agreed benchmarks
- Development of a Management Information System that incorporates automated records management and workflow facilities
- Outreach activities including media workshops and the establishment of a media contacts database
- Infrastructure assessments and website development for each committee.
The programme of project work is being delivered through consultation meetings, knowledge-sharing workshops, staff training and study visits. International best practice models are being used to inform the design of new systems for benchmarking and performance management.
This project is supporting the move towards a strengthened model of parliamentary oversight in Bangladesh. The capacity of the committees to scrutinise audited accounts and expenditure in a timely, efficient manner is increasing as Members of Parliament share best practice learning and knowledge with international peers and adopt automated systems for workflow and records management. The introduction of a system of performance standards is supporting the move towards a framework for more accountable monitoring and evaluation.
Wider public engagement in parliamentary oversight is also being promoted with the introduction of information dissemination procedures and external stakeholder engagement activities. Over the longer-term this is providing a framework for greater transparency and accountability and ultimately, more effective parliamentary oversight.