Write to a Committee: Oversight of Annual Reports
Parliamentary Committees will be reviewing the annual reports of government departments and entities from 11-21 October 2022.
Annual reports allow Parliament to evaluate the performance of a Department and entity after the end of the financial year.
The role of parliamentary committees in overseeing annual reports is crucial to closing the accountability loop of planning, budgeting, implementation, reporting, auditing, and, finally, oversight.
As part of this oversight process, committees will hold hearings with the executive authorities, accounting officers, senior officials, and the Office of the Auditor-General (AGSA). These hearings provide MPs with the opportunity to interrogate the executive regarding the exercise of authority particularly in relation to the delivery of services and the implementation of legislation, and to check on the entities’ performance in relation to the performance targets set at the beginning of the financial year in question.
According to the AGSA, Parliament’s oversight role includes:
-Using the information in the audit report on material irregularities for accountability and oversight purposes, insisting on timeous implementation of recommendation
-Obtaining reports on investigations conducted into transgressions and irregularities within entities
-Following up annually on previous commitments made by accounting officers
-Determining if corrective steps are taken to address shortcomings in the internal control environment
-Enquiring what training and support is given to officials to enable them to correctly execute their responsibilities
-Following up on actions taken against official(s) responsible for transgressions
-Holding executive authorities accountable for failures in the control environment
-Using reports tabled on progress with material irregularities to oversee and influence progress made by public bodies with investigations on executive authorities (for recovery of debt)
National Treasury further advises that parliamentary committees should gather information from customers, stakeholders, and the broader public. The advantage of bringing in outside inputs to the oversight process is that this can broaden a Committee’s information base. Including experts in the process can mitigate the information asymmetry that often exists between entities and committees, and proves a useful check on the accuracy of the performance information supplied by entities.
In order to assist a Committee, it is advised that contributors restrict themselves to commenting on the information contained in the annual reports that are under discussion.
Some topics to consider:
i. How effectively does the entity contribute to the delivery of government objectives, as reflected in its mandate?
ii. Should the mandate be changed in order to better reflect government priorities and the needs of clients?
iii. Is there a continuing need for the functions being delivered by the entity as a whole, and by each of its programmes? If not, can the entity as a whole be closed down, or some of its programmes be terminated?
iv. Is there a need for new programmes to be initiated?
v. What corrective steps have been taken or are being taken to address poor audit outcomes?
vi. To what extent has the entity met its aims, objectives and performance targets and quality standards? What were the reasons for any failures?
vii. How have the entities’ performance targets changed over time?
viii. What examples are there of good practice in how the entity has delivered its services?
ix. What changes have been made in the services provided to clients? How can greater client choice be provided in future?
x. What questions should the Committee be asking as it undertakes its oversight work?
xi. Committees approve the budgets of Departments and entities. They also recommend that Treasury either increase or not reduce allocations. What departments and entities should receive more money and why?
Before you submit your input, we suggest you review the Department and entity’s annual report as well as other relevant documents. Ideally, this input should be submitted before the committee’s hearing with the relevant department and entity. Most of these are scheduled to take place from 11 -21 October. Check the Daily Schedule regularly: https://pmg.org.za/daily-schedules/
Once you have drafted your input, you can use Submit your input directly to the Committee here: https://www.pa.org.za/write-committees/recipients/
Alternatively, you can use the details below:
Name of Committee
L Brown: [email protected]
L Ntsabo: [email protected]
K Pasiya-Mndende: [email protected]
V Majalamba: [email protected]
N Bavuma: [email protected]
B Mbengo: [email protected]
V Ramaano: [email protected]
S Mthonjeni: [email protected]
Source: National Treasury
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"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.