This brief is an outcome of a year-long participatory research and advocacy project conducted by the Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA), with support from the Uganda Governance, Accountability, Participation and Performance (GAPP) program funded by USAID and DFID. The research analyzed the obstacles that undermine the effective and timely consideration of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) reports by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the Local Government Accounts Committee (LGAC), and the Committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE); and propose reforms to address the gaps identified.
This process culminated in the 2014 CEPA report Strengthening the Oversight Function of Parliament: An Assessment of Accountability Committees. The methodology used in conducting the research included in-depth interviews with over 40 key stakeholders, including the Speaker of Parliament and her deputy, committee chairpersons, selected committee members, committee technical staff, Parliamentary administrative staff and OAG liaison officers to Parliament.
This was complemented with the review of secondary literature and analysis of committee proceedings and reports produced to establish the timeliness of consideration, debate and adoption of reports by Parliament. The report’s findings revealed a number of major obstacles including: a heavy backlog in the three accountability committees that review the OAG reports, due to slow consideration and production of the reports, which delays debate and adoption among other administrative and political challenges. CEPA spearheaded advocacy initiatives with accountability cycle stakeholders including; Parliament, OAG, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Local Government. At these meetings, CEPA proposed the identified policy issues for reform necessary for improving the oversight function of Parliament and the timely consideration of the OAG reports by the accountability committees are adopted and implemented.
This brief highlights key emerging reform issues around which there has been wide stakeholder consensus, and those that have not been fully explored by the stakeholders that can improve Parliament’s oversight. The proposed reforms covers both the practices and policies that, if adopted by the Parliament, will improve the timely consideration of the OAG reports and have Parliament meet its constitutional mandate of considering and adopting the OAG reports within six months. This will allow the stakeholders on accountability issues, especially the Secretary to Treasury, the DPP, the IGG, and the Police to deal with corruption issues in a timely manner, hence improving accountability and service delivery.
The reforms would also assist Parliament to reduce the endemic backlog in accountability committees. For example, the report recommends that reports in all the accountability committees be combined and the resulting omnibus report be presented on the floor of Parliament. This will allow the accountability committees to allocate more time to the current reports of the OAG. CEPA will continue to engage with and encourage all relevant stakeholders, especially the OAG, MoFPED and Parliament, to adopt and implement all the proposed reforms.