February 3, 2021
Public Accounts Committees (PACs) play a key role in supporting accountability and their work contributes to improved public administration. It is important that their work be as visible and accessible as possible. PACs can achieve this by building awareness with the media, fellow members of the legislature, and the general public. Building public awareness can help make a PAC’s contributions even more effective, as this can increase the likelihood that the government takes note of the issues raised by the committee.
Here are four methods (plus a bonus tip) that a PAC can use to get its message out:
Have a communications plan
A communications plan will formalize what information the PAC will share and how it will interact with stakeholders with the goal of establishing a predictable process of communication. This is especially important with committee membership changing with every election. This plan should include all the key stakeholders: the public, legislators, witnesses, legislative auditor, comptroller, Treasury Board, non-governmental organizations, academics, and the media.
Publish non-partisan news releases on the committee’s work
News releases written in non-technical plain language will make it easier for the media to report on a PAC’s work. Using non-partisan language signals that the committee is united in its dedication to improving public administration and ensuring recommendations are being implemented. To ensure that news releases are non-partisan, they should typically be drafted by committee support staff such as the clerk and/or a researcher/analyst.
Brief the media when requested
It is important to be available to brief the media on reports when requested. To do this, PACs should designate a spokesperson – usually the chair – to speak to the media on behalf of the committee. This spokesperson should be identified in the PAC’s communications plan.
Make the PAC’s work as widely available as possible
The PAC’s work should be transparent and accessible to the public. Committee reports and recommendations, meeting minutes and transcripts, and other relevant documents should be posted on the legislature’s website in an organized and easy to access manner. Televising or streaming hearings online also makes the PAC and its work more accessible to the public. Recordings of meetings should be easy to find.
BONUS TIP –
Share your experience and the value of the PAC’s work with your fellow legislators and with the public
PAC members frequently engage in person or through social media with other members of the legislature and the public. These interactions are great opportunities to show them the value of your PAC work. Our short video describes the PAC’s important role and is a great informative piece that you can share on your social media accounts.
See more Oversight Tips