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Commonwealth Association of Public Accounts Committees
Member of PAC Networks
CAPAC Exective Committee meeting 07.03.2017 in London.
Please visit meeting page
A new edition of the CAPAC Newsletter has just been issued. You may download a copy from below:
Welcome to the CAPAC Wiki!
‘… In this context, Heads noted the establishment of the Commonwealth Association of Public Accounts Committees as a network for strengthening public financial management and accountability, these being vital in maintaining the trust of citizens and the integrity of governments and legislatures.’
CHOGM 2015 Communique
In June 2014, Chairs and Members of Public Accounts and equivalent Committees of Commonwealth parliaments attending the 4th Westminster Workshop on Parliamentary Financial Scrutiny of Public Expenditure at Westminster constituted the Commonwealth Association of Public Accounts Committees (CAPAC). An informal steering committee was formed to guide CAPAC’s work in the short term, with Hon. Senator Raziah Ahmed (Trinidad & Tobago) and Hon. Tonio Fenech MP (Malta), as co-chairs. CPA UK committed to providing coordination to the nascent Association’s activities in the interim period.
CAPAC is designed to support the work of Commonwealth Public Accounts Committees in promoting good governance, implementing the declaration on these committees contained in the communiqué of the November 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting:
'Heads of Government further reaffirmed that strong and independent Parliamentary oversight plays an important role in preserving the trust of citizens in the integrity of government, through Public Accounts Committees that are effective, independent and transparent.'
Listen to the former Co-Chairs of the CAPAC Steering Committee (now replaced by the elected Executive Committee) speaking about the CAPAC initiative:
Hon. Tonio Fenech MP, Malta
Chair, CAPAC Executive Committee
Hon. Raziah Ahmed, Trinidad & Tobago
Former Chair of the Senate & Co-Chair of the CAPAC Steering Group
Papua New Guinea
Trinidad and Tobago
Isle of Man
Turks and Caicos
Hon Dale Marshall, CAPAC ExCO, briefs the Caribbean Network of PACs (CarNPAC) Core Group on the benefits of CAPAC membership
CAPAC Aim & Functions
. The aim of the Association is to ensure that all Commonwealth Parliaments and the citizens they serve benefit from strong and independent Public Accounts or equivalent committees to sustain and promote the highest principles of public finance.
. Without restricting the generality of this aim, the Association shall pursue it by:
Making the case for the independence of Commonwealth PACs, and for the implementation of all appropriate PAC recommendations as key components of good governance.
Defining, publishing and promoting standards of good practice, in line with Commonwealth principles, to assist CAPAC Member Committees in being effective, transparent and independent.
Providing training to support CAPAC Member Committees in improving their performance.
Acting as a clearing house of valuable information on matters pertaining to PACs; this will include information about current practices in various legislatures.
Establishing a voluntary peer consultative mechanism process acceptable to its Member Committees, to be used as a platform for both exchanges of information and benchmarking.
Engaging in proactive and effective relationships with key stakeholders, including, but not limited to, regional PAC organisations and the Conference of Commonwealth Auditor-Generals.
Strengthening the capacity of Commonwealth PAC and equivalent Committees with a particular emphasis on Small States.
Encourage bilateral and multi-lateral interaction among Members on issues of common concern.
. In all these activities, CAPAC will pay particular attention to the need to empower PAC Members on issues of gender equality, especially with regard to gender-budgeting, auditing and committee membership.
CAPAC Executive Committee
The Executive Committee met in London on 12 April 2016. These are the draft CAPAC PAC Principles agreed upon during the Ex-Co meeting.
ou can find the
meeting page button
on the right.
Interview with Hon. Tonio Fenech MP, Malta,
Chair, CAPAC Executive Committee
following to the ExCo meeting
Hon. Vedasingam Baloomoody MP, Mauritius
CAPAC Executive Committee
following to the ExCo meeting
Good Practice Standards for Commonwealth Public Accounts Committees.
CAPAC Executive Committee has initiated a working group to deliver a study on the good practice working standards for Commonwealth PACs. All CAPAC Members are invited to contribute their comments/suggestions in the discussion forum. The draft study document can be found under the resources (general resources) section.
Expanding membership and updating contacts.
Full membership of the Association shall be open to PACs and other Committees whose function is to examine the accounts of national government bodies. Interested Committees may refer to the CAPAC Constitution for further details and may also contact the CCU for further information at
The CAPAC Executive Committee
took place in London on Tuesday 12 April 2016. The ExCo Meeting agreed upon a set of PAC principles and standards of good practice. More information and documents can be found in the events page.
The launch of CAPAC, 3 June 2015
Input Requested from all PAC Networks: Global Study Group on PAC Oversight of Responses to National Crises
The first meeting of the Study Group, whose terms of reference and initial research is below, has taken place in Kathmandu, 11-12 March 2016.
Download the 'Annex - TORs.pdf' document
Download the 'PAC DRM Discussion Paper.pdf' document
The objectives of the Study Group are to:
Consider the role of the PAC in examining responses to crises, including both natural and human-caused disasters, as well as health issues, that require emergency funding, either through consolidated revenues or Overseas Development Assistance (ODA);
Identify performance as well as financial issues that should form the basis is for recommendations for future preparedness;
Collaborate across PAC Associations to identify emerging PAC good practice globally; and
Consider how PACs should plan for business continuity.
The Study Group's initial thinking is that the draft report will probably be laid out as:
Purpose of the Guide
Types of crisis
Role of the Government (political economy of greater PAC assertiveness)
Role of the SAI
Role of the PAC [see below for detail]
Opportunities for change
Conclusions and Recommendations
Role of the PAC:
Institutional - mandate, limitations, other committees
Business continuity planning
Scrutinizing preparedness for crises - proactive and reactive approaches
During crises - ensuring government is acting quickly (timely intervention)
Overseeing reconstruction efforts (NGO funds outside system, ODA) - when PAC can act
the Secretariat if you would like to make a submission about the work of your PAC or SAI in this area.
BENCHMARKING AND SELF-ASSESSMENT FOR PARLIAMENTS
The World Bank Group has just published a free e-book on Benchmarking and Self-Assessment for Parliaments -
you can download it here
In addition, the World Bank has collaborated with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to identify global good practice for Public Accounts Committees. The publication is called "Following the Money" and the Annex provides a framework for PACs to develop Good Practice Guides for PACs and PAC Networks based on existing evidence related to PAC performance.
PUBLIC EXPENDITURE AND FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY (PEFA) FRAMEWORK
You can find the web site here
- is a tool for assessing the status of public financial management. A PEFA assessment provides a thorough, consistent and evidence-based analysis of PFM performance at a specific point in time. The PEFA methodology can be reapplied in successive assessments to track changes over time.
2016 marks the most comprehensive upgrade to the PEFA framework since it was first published in 2005:
PEFA 2016 Brochure.pdf
PEFA 2016 Brochure.pdf
The PEFA framework provides the foundation for evidence-based measurement of countries’ PFM systems. A PEFA assessment measures the extent to which PFM systems, processes and institutions contribute to the achievement of desirable budget outcomes: aggregate fiscal discipline, strategic allocation of resources, and efficient service delivery.
The PEFA framework assesses and reports on the strengths and weaknesses of public financial management using 31 performance indicators that are further disaggregated into 94 dimensions.
The performance of each indicator and dimension is measured against a four point ordinal scale from A to D. The highest score, A, is warranted if evidence clearly demonstrates that an internationally-recognized level of good performance is achieved. The D score indicates that performance is below the basic level. Indicators with more than one dimension are scored according to either the lowest score amongst its dimensions (M1, the weakest link) or the average of its dimension scores (M2, average score).
The Seven Pillars
The 31 performance indicators are grouped into seven pillars of performance focusing on essential features of an effective PFM system which provide the foundation for a PEFA assessment. The pillars are:
Pillar 1: Budget Reliability
Pillar 2: Transparency
Pillar 3: Management of Assets and Liabilities
Pillar 4: Policy-based fiscal strategy and budgeting (PI-18)
Pillar 5: Predictability and Control in Budget Execution
Pillar 6: Accounting and Reporting
External Scrutiny and Audit (PI-31)
Performance Indicators related to parliament are included in Pillar 4 and Pillar 7
Pillar 4: Policy-based fiscal strategy and budgeting
The fiscal strategy and the budget are prepared with due regard to government fiscal policies, strategic plans, and adequate macroeconomic and fiscal projections.
Performance Indicator 18 - Legislative scrutiny of budgets
The nature and scope of legislative scrutiny of the annual budget. It considers the extent to which the legislature scrutinizes, debates, and approves the annual budget, including the extent to which the legislature’s procedures for scrutiny are well established and adhered to.
18.1 Scope of budget scrutiny
18.2 Legislative procedures for budget scrutiny
18.3 Timing of budget approval
18.4 Rules for budget adjustment by the executive
Pillar 7: External scrutiny and audit
Public finances are independently reviewed and there is external follow-up on the implementation of recommendations for improvement by the executive.
Performance Indicator 31 - Legislative scrutiny of audit reports
The extent to which legislative scrutiny of the audited financial reports of central government is timely, significant and transparent. It also assesses whether the legislature issues recommendations and follows up on their implementation.
31.1 Timing of audit report scrutiny
31.2 Hearings on audit findings
31.3 Recommendations on audit by the legislature
31.4 Transparency of legislative scrutiny of audit reports
PEFA Field Guide 2012
arranges all the guidance material produced by the Secretariat for assessors to use when undertaking an assessment, dimension-by-dimension and also includes examples of presenting evidence for ratings.
The existing Fieldguide is not yet aligned to PEFA 2016; however, the guidance material for the old PI-11 and PI-28 (which are similar to PI-18 and PI-31 PEFA 2016) can be a useful reference when seeking to assess your PAC’s performance against PEFA 2016.
PI-11 (Previous PEFA Framework) Orderliness and participation in the annual budget process.
While the Ministry of Finance (MOF) is usually the driver of the annual budget formulation process, effective participation in the budget formulation process by other ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as well as the political leadership (the leadership of the executive, such as the Cabinet or equivalent body. Involvement of the legislative in review of budget proposals is covered by indicator PI-27) impacts the extent to which the budget will reflect macro-economic, fiscal and sector policies. Full participation requires an integrated top-down and bottom-up budgeting process, involving all parties in an orderly and timely manner, in accordance with a pre-determined budget formulation calendar. The calendar should allow for passing of the budget law before the start of the fiscal year as well as for sufficient time for the other MDAs to meaningfully prepare their detailed budget proposals as per the guidance. Delays in passing the budget may create uncertainty about the level of approved expenditures and delays in some government activities, including major contracts. Clear guidance on the budget process should be provided in the budget circular and budget formulation manual, including indicative budgetary ceilings for administrative units or functional areas.
In order to avoid last minute changes to budget proposals, it is important that the political leadership is actively involved in the setting of aggregate allocations (particularly for sectors or functions) from an early stage of the budget preparation process. This should be initiated through review and approval of the allocation ceilings in the budget circular, either by approving the budget circular or by approving a preceding proposal for aggregate allocations (e.g. in a budget outlook paper).
Dimensions to be assessed:
Existence of and adherence to a fixed budget calendar
Clarity/comprehensiveness of and political involvement in the guidance on the preparation of budget submissions (budget circular or equivalent)
Timely budget approval by the legislature or similarly mandated body (within the last three years).
Dimension (i) Existence of and adherence to a fixed budget calendar
1. Is a budget calendar prepared and adhered to? 2. Is the budget calendar clear? 3. How many weeks does the budget calendar allow to ministries, department and agencies (MDAs) to complete their detailed estimates?
Dimension (ii) Guidance on the preparation of budget submissions
1. Is a budget circular issued to MDAs? 2. Is the budget circular clear? 3. Does the budget circular include ceilings pre-approved by Cabinet? 4. If not, are Cabinet-approved ceilings notified in time for MDAs to amend their budget estimates? 5. Can the Cabinet still make adjustments to budget estimates before they are submitted to Parliament?
Dimension (iii) Timely budget approval by the legislature
1. During the last three fiscal years, was the budget approved before the start of the fiscal year? 2. If not, when was the budget approved each year (how many months into the year)?
PI-28 (Former PEFA Framework) - Legislative scrutiny of external audit reports.
The legislature has a key role in exercising scrutiny over the execution of the budget that it approved. A common way in which this is done is through a legislative committee(s) or commission(s) that examines the external audit reports and questions responsible parties about the findings of the reports. The operation of the committee(s) will depend on adequate financial and technical resources, and on adequate time being allocated to keep up-to-date on reviewing audit reports. The committee may also recommend actions and sanctions to be implemented by the executive, in addition to adopting the recommendations made by the external auditors (ref. PI-26).
The focus in this indicator is on central government entities, including autonomous agencies to the extent that either (a) they are required by law to submit audit reports to the legislative or (b) their parent or controlling ministry/department must answer questions and take action on the agencies‟ behalf. Timeliness of the legislature’s scrutiny can be affected by a surge in audit report submissions, where external auditors are catching up on a backlog. In such situations, the committee(s) may decide to give first priority to audit reports covering the most recent reporting periods and audited entities that have a history of poor compliance. The assessment should favorably consider such elements of good practice and not be based on the resulting delay in scrutinizing reports covering more distant periods.
Dimensions to be assessed:
Timeliness of examination of audit reports by the legislature (for reports received within the last three years).
Extent of hearings on key findings undertaken by the legislature.
Issuance of recommended actions by the legislature and implementation by the executive.
Dimension (i) Timeliness of examination of audit reports by the legislature (for reports received within the last three years).
1. Do current legislation &/or existing procedures establish any deadlines for review of audit reports by legislature? 2. When examination of audit reports takes place by legislature, how long does it take in practice for to complete this examination (more than 12, within 12, 6 or 3 months from receipt of reports)? 3. Was duration of examination of audit reports by legislature same on all audit reports received during last 3 FYs?
Dimension (ii) Extent of hearings on key findings undertaken by the legislature.
1. What action does legislature take with respect to key findings in audit reports (eg. hearings which require members of executive to answer questions or to bring evidence)? 2. Does the legislative committee have technical assistance eg. from the SAI, in undertaking their scrutiny? 3. Do in-depth hearings on key findings take place occasionally, on a routine basis, or consistently? 4. Do in-depth hearings take place with responsible officers from all audited entities on which audit report raises queries?
Dimension (iii) Issuance of recommended actions by the legislature and implementation by the executive.
1. Does law require actions to be taken with respect to recommendations of legislative review? 2. In practice, are recommendations being issued by legislature? 3. Is there any evidence that recommendations are acted on by the executive?
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CAPAC Executive Committee 07.03.17
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