Monday, November 24, 2008

Interesting recommendations on improving the PBO

If the Harper government has done anything right it was the establishment of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Situational irony being what it is, Toom Tabard probably wishes he hadn't brought it about. Kevin Page has only made one report and already there are proposals on how we can improve this service. The proposals make sense to me.

"The government of Canada's archaic system of silos and obsolete, contradictory measurement methodologies ensures that an accurate and complete costing of public policies is unknown by citizens, media and scholars and -- more frighteningly -- by our parliamentarians, who have been entrusted by the Canadian people to make responsible public policy decisions."

From silos you get silage and we all know what that smells like.

Three actions must be taken to ensure transparency, accountability and legitimacy of public policy:

1) Parliament must ensure that the Speaker supports -- not thwarts -- the will of parliamentarians and Canadians by announcing support for an independent PBO;

2) The government must amend the Accountability Act to establish the PBO as an independent officer of Parliament outside the sphere of control of the Speaker or the Parliamentary Library or any government agency;

3) Parliament must adequately resource the PBO so that it can undertake exhaustive, empirical, rigorous costing analysis of major public policies such as the Afghan war.

Direct accountability across departments. Makes sense to me.

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