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Oversight Tips

June 30, 2020
Public Accounts Committees and Research Support – Part 2:
Obtaining Additional Research Support to Fit Your Needs

You have determined that your PAC needs additional research support. Now what? Here is some information that will help you determine potential next steps.

There are different ways you can request additional resources:

Oversight Tip 1

Request additional research support from the legislative library (or research service), either on a shared, part-time, or permanent basis.

Oversight Tip 2

Consider requesting assistance (either personnel or funding for personnel) from the administrative head of the legislature, typically the clerk (often considered when there is no library or research service).

Oversight Tip 3

Consider formal applications for resources with the speaker(s) or the parliamentary committee responsible for the budget of the legislature.

If the above approaches do not lead to favourable outcomes because of scarce resources, or if research needs do not warrant a full-time equivalent, you can:

Oversight Tip 1

Request research support from the audit office.

Oversight Tip 2

Use a university intern. For example, a local university’s public policy program could provide students, with virtually no financial implications to the committee; however, this option will require a third party (such as the library or audit office) to manage the administrative and human resource requirements.

Oversight Tip 3

Consider an inter-jurisdictional job share with one researcher supporting more than one PAC.

What are the skills and experience required to be an effective PAC researcher?

Once you have identified the steps you will take to increase your research support, you will want to consider the skills and experience needed to be an effective PAC researcher:

Oversight Tip 1

An advanced degree in economics, law, political science, administration, are common background areas of study.

Oversight Tip 2

Excellent analytical and writing skills to quickly absorb new information, prepare concise briefing notes, and draft accurate, meaningful reports.

Oversight Tip 3

Some work experience in the knowledge sector, such as publicly funded research institutes, government, academia, etc.

Oversight Tip 4

Demonstrated ability to be non-partisan.

Oversight Tip 5

Ability to use discretion and judgement. Committee researchers are often privy to sensitive material and discussions, and need to maintain the trust of the elected officials. They must also ensure their work and conduct is professional, balanced and fair.

Oversight Tip 6

Ability to work under tight timelines as committee work is fast paced.

Want to learn more? Have a look at our recent publication How Researchers Assigned to Public Accounts Committees Can Strengthen Oversight.


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