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The Role and Management o of the Scrutiny Unit Jessica Mulley, Head of the Scrutiny Unit June 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "The Role and Management o of the Scrutiny Unit Jessica Mulley, Head of the Scrutiny Unit June 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Role and Management o of the Scrutiny Unit Jessica Mulley, Head of the Scrutiny Unit June 2013

2 Scrutiny Unit Established in 2002 Part of the Commons Committee Office Directorate Staff skills now include Parliamentary procedure, Scrutiny management, Accountancy and auditing, Economics, Statistics, Legal and legislative analysis, Administrative support Works in partnership with Select Committee Secretariats and Department for Information Services

3 Why we were set up  To strengthen the scrutiny role of the House, particularly  Financial scrutiny  Pre-legislative scrutiny  To fulfil commitment to more specialist staff for select committees  to support common objectives for select committees (which include scrutiny of spending and performance)

4 Supporting Select Committees - overview Liaison Committee agreed core tasks: –Examine Departments’ spending plans and spending –Examine objectives, targets and outcomes Scrutiny of Government finances and performance Scrutiny of legislation Support Joint Committees (with House of Lords) –Scrutiny of Draft Legislation Supports Public Bill Committees –Scrutiny of Bills –Policy support & evidence taking (sometimes) –Administrative Support (always)

5 Supporting Select Committees in practice Briefing Committees (private sessions) Staff Training Written guidance, website and booklets Discussions with Government (e.g. Treasury) on improving information given to Parliament Providing advice to Liaison Committee on proposals for change (e.g. Alignment, mid year reports) Inquiry management support Pre-Legislative Scrutiny Post-Legislative Scrutiny

6 Legislative Scrutiny Draft Bills: –Procedural, legal, research and other specialist advice and administrative support for ad hoc Joint Committees (in partnership with the House of Lords) –Specialist advice and assistance to Departmental Select Committees in scrutinising draft bills Public Bill Committees: Coordinates evidence-taking sessions incl. receipt and circulation of written submissions Arranging or providing briefing for Committee members for any oral evidence sessions

7 Financial scrutiny- what Scrutiny Unit does Analyses financial documents Prepares briefing notes and written questions Briefs committees orally, answers their questions or gives presentations Works with Committee teams –on briefing and questions to Ministers on financial matters for hearings –on financial and economic aspects of inquiries including writing reports

8 Committee Support (regular financial events) Scrutiny Unit support includes Establishing facts: –what money is being spent on –Identifying changes in spending and trends Questioning can cover –Strategy and option appraisal –The value added by the spending and value for money –Delivery and implementation, capacity etc –Monitoring and outcomes –Review, revision and lessons learnt

9 Other Financial Scrutiny Support- examples Presentations, training etc Briefing to Committees and Committee Staff Responding to Treasury and National Audit Office on emerging financial reporting issues Providing advice to Liaison Committee on proposals for change Economic Support and Analysis e.g. Impact Assessments Writing sections of Committee Reports (where relevant)

10 Financial scrutiny: what does it achieve? Greater openness and transparency Accountability to public and Parliament for taxpayers’ money Incentives to –Ensure decisions are fully thought through and defensible before they are taken –justify spending based on evidence –consider alternative views and options proposed –Possibly even to review and amend future plans –Establish procedures to avoid embarrassment (eg avoid wasteful spending or minimise fraud)

11 Supporting Corporate Functions Drawing on SU’s wide skills and experience base, help with –Outreach –Internal Audit –Library Research and Inquiries –Public Understanding –IT and technology tools Practical examples: Staff survey analysis; income generation support; Speaker’s Committees; Hack Weekend

12 Scrutiny Unit Management Part of Commons Committee Office, Department of Chamber and Committee Services Lead by Head of Unit and sub-divided into three teams Reports to the Clerk of Committees and Committee Office Management Group Resources drawn from general Committee Office budgets Permanent staff supported by range of secondees, staff on loan, and short-term appointments

13 SU Interns and Fellows Programme Drawn from range of academic, public and third sector institutions Subject to same requirements on political impartiality and confidentiality Work either directly in the SU or placed with a select committee

14 Any questions? Scrutiny Unit web pages offices/offices/commons/scrutinyunit/


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