OPERATING PRINCIPLES / PRACTICES
- The Chairperson plays a leading role in all aspects of Committee work. The Chairperson participates in the questioning of witnesses and in other Committee deliberations, presides at all meetings, decides questions of order and procedure, maintains order and decorum and is the spokesperson for the Committee.
- Pursuant to Rule 60(3) the Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee shall be the member chosen at the commencement of the first session of each Assembly by the Opposition House Leader from among such members of the Committee as are members of the Official Opposition.
- The Vice-Chairperson is also chosen in this same manner, from the Government Members of the Committee.
- Member substitutions are permitted and these substitutes enjoy all of the rights and privileges pursuant of the member they are substituting for. Any member of the Legislature may attend the committee meetings if they wish, but only members or substitutes for members of the committee may vote.
- Meetings are called by the Chairperson in consultation with all parties represented on the Committee.
- The Committee will schedule sufficient meetings to discharge its responsibilities.
- The Committee will normally not hold meetings during hours when the Legislature is sitting.
- The Chairperson may hold meetings to receive evidence (votes shall not be taken) when a quorum is not present, if so authorized by the Committee, so long as both sides of the Legislature are represented.
- The Committee may decide to meet outside the Legislative Buildings.
- Except where the Committee feels the circumstances do not require his presence, the Auditor General should be in attendance at all Committee meetings to provide advice and opinions on accounting and administration matters and/or on issues in his report.
- Members of the Committee should strive to develop a consensus approach in researching issue as means to maintain a non-partisan sprit.
- All Committee meetings are open to the public, except in camera meetings which shall be allowed at the discretion of the Committee.
- In Camera meetings should be held only in instances when evidence of a particularly sensitive nature is given or when the Committee deems necessary, for example:
Discussion of the Committee’s draft reports to the Legislature will be in camera but final approval thereof will be in public.
Briefings by the Auditor General on subjects the Committee will review will be in camera.
- when dealing with matters under police investigation;
- where public hearings would constitute an unreasonable intrusion into the privacy of individuals;
- when the evidence could impact upon the competitive position
of a company; and
- when dealing with matters that could effect national security.
BRIEFING PROCESS AND OPERATION
The Committee should spend sufficient time identifying issues raised in, but not limited to the Auditor General’s reports prior to deciding on the witnesses to be invited to the hearings.
The Committee will seek to obtain a through briefing from the Auditor General on the background and substance related to the appearance of specific witnesses, and to assure that any necessary documents are available.
The Committee will request any available responses or updates prepared by an audited department, prior to its appearance.
Motions for major items should be deferred to the next meeting to allow Members time to prepare for debate.
The Chairperson will explain to witnesses their legal position, in regard to future action that might arise from their testimony.
Deputy Ministers and Senior Officials may be called before the Committee, with respect to their administration duties and implementation of activities.
Witnesses shall be treated fairly when they appear before the Committee.
Questioning of Witnesses :
Based on the Auditor General’s briefing and/or any additional research the Committee may establish lines of inquiry.
Lines of inquiry and preliminary questions may be provided to witnesses so that these may be addressed in their opening statement.
Members will be advise the Chairperson of their desire to ask questions and the Chairperson will apportion time equitably among members.
Scope of Examination :
The Committee will seek to concentrate on issues of management and financial administration.
In examining the year under review, the Committee may review past and committed expenditures insofar as they relate directly to and have impact on matters falling within the year under review, to assist the Committee in understanding the context of these matters.
With respect to any matter under consideration, the Committee may request the Auditor General to perform specific reviews. The Committee may from time to time request the Legislature to refer to the Committee legislation dealing with The Auditor General’s Act or other legislative initiatives relevant to the Committee’s mandate.
REPORTS TO THE ASSEMBLY
The Committee shall report at least annually to the Legislature and may include in its report a request for the government to table a response within 120 days.
The Committee’s report should be detailed and comprehensive.
The Committee will not include minority reports, dissenting opinions or reservation in its report to the Legislature.
Names of individuals shall not be included in the Committee’s report excepting by direct quote, unless the Committee agrees that extenuating circumstances warrant it.
The Committee may refer to any review of confidential evidence which it has conducted but shall not include such evidence in its report.
The Chairperson will table all Committee reports in the Legislature, or should the Legislature be adjourned or prorogued, reports shall be tabled with the Clerk of the House.
There shall be a systematic review by the Committee of government action and formal responses to the Committee’s recommendations, in order to complete the accountability cycle.
VERBATIM AND MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
Verbatim transcripts and minutes of proceedings are to be prepared for all committee meetings. For in camera meetings, the Committee will decide on the advisability of having confidential and unpublished verbatim transcripts and minutes.
Where the Committee has determined to forego verbatim transcripts, minutes for in camera meetings should record only attendance, subject-matter discussed and decisions reached, but no details of discussions or testimony or a record of how a Member voted.
The Committee will endeavor to obtain all necessary resources, including research support, to fulfil its role and responsibilities in an effective and efficient manner.
Meetings of the Committee may be held from time to time for professional development purposes.
AGENDA AND PROCEDURES COMMITTEE
The Agenda and Procedures Committee will be composed of the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson and such other Members as the Committee deems necessary. The Agenda and Procedures Committee will meet in camera at the call of the Chairperson, to propose to the Committee, agencies and witnesses to be called, to assist in finalizing reports, to review sensitive documents, to monitor the progress of the Committee work and such other responsibilities as deemed necessary.
Approved by the Public Accounts Committee - Wednesday, September 14, 1994