Short Course Award – Effective and Efficient Management of Parliamentary Committees

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Key application dates

Opening date for nominations: 9th April 2016
Closing date for nominations: 23rd April 2016

 

Short Course Award – Effective and Efficient Management of Parliamentary Committees

Course Title:

Effective and Efficient Management of Parliamentary Committees

 

Context:

The Parliament of Pakistan is a bicameral federal legislature consisting of the Senate and the National Assembly with each of Pakistan’s four provinces having an elected legislative body or Provincial Assembly. Parliament (including the Senate, National Assembly and Provincial Assembly) is supported by the vital work of Parliamentary Committees. Parliamentary Committees serve as powerful channels to promote transparency, accountability and ensure that policy and legislative development are properly examined. They are one of the most important mechanisms by which legislatures hold state institutions accountable, question executive policies and investigate issues of public concern.

Parliamentary Committees in Pakistan have not been able to function at their full potential largely due to a lack of institutional stability and weak secretariat capacity resulting from Pakistan’s long history of disrupted democratic development. Currently, Parliamentary Secretariats lack the capacity and skills to support Parliamentary Committees in conducting their crucial work. Policy-makers and planners believe that Parliamentary Committees require both improved management capacity, and supporting structures, in order to effectively and efficiently support parliamentarians to perform their representative, legislative and oversight functions. This skills gap is compounded by a lack of resources for legislative and policy research and weak institutional linkages with civil society.

Pakistan shares a common parliamentary heritage with Australia in applying the Westminster democratic system of government, including the use of committees as the ‘engine room’ of parliamentary activities. Both countries have also learned the value of using such committees to enhance democracy and the scrutiny of government. Pakistan has established a number of standing and special committees at the national and provincial levels, together with supporting Civil Society organisations. A list of current Senate, National Assembly and Provincial committees is provided by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) at their website; www.pildat.org.

To address the above mentioned skills gap and to respond to a request of the Government of Pakistan, the Australian Government offered the Effective and Efficient Management of Parliamentary Committees Short Course Award in 2014 under the Australia Awards Pakistan program. The program was designed to enhance the capacity of middle to senior level public servants managing the Parliamentary Committees of Pakistan’s National and Provincial Assemblies. The course was developed following high level consultations between the Government of Pakistan and the Australian High Commission, Islamabad , during which a potential to learn from Australia’s parliamentary committee system was identified. The course was delivered to 19 participants over a three week period in Australia, with delivery in Brisbane and Canberra.

The Government of Pakistan has requested support from the Australian Government for a second iteration of the course in 2016.  This updated and slightly revised course is to be delivered using many of the successful approaches applied previously, and additionally, will also include a Training of Trainer (TOT) component.

 

Purpose

The primary purpose of this Short Course Award (SCA) in Effective and Efficient Management of Parliamentary Committees is to enhance the capacity of middle to senior level public servants managing the Parliamentary Committees of Pakistan’s National and Provincial Assemblies.

A maximum of twenty participants will be selected for this course.

 

Course Objectives:

The objectives for the proposed Short Course Award are:

  • To provide participants with skills and knowledge in effective and efficient management of Parliamentary Committees at the national and state levels in Australia.
  • To equip participants with appropriate and practical tools to develop and implement sound policy and practice relevant to the effective and efficient management of Parliamentary Committees, recognising the resource constraints within Pakistan’s Parliament and Assemblies.
  • To equip participants with the theoretical base and appropriate tools to deliver similar training to their counterparts and colleagues on their return to Pakistan.
  • To enable participants to interpret their experience and learning through the development of a Return to Work Plan (RWP) that applies the knowledge and skills gained from the course in a manner appropriate to their work context in Pakistan.

 

Potential Participants:

This SCA targets a maximum of twenty Parliamentary Secretariat employees working at the national or provincial levels who are directly engaged with the management and support for the Parliamentary Committees of the National and Provincial Assemblies, as well as the Senate. The participants will be middle to senior level government officials from the Pakistan civil services. They will either be currently employed by the public sector at the federal or provincial levels, or will be employed as officers on long term contract with the Government of Pakistan.

Gender equity will be maintained in the initial nomination and also in the final selected participants list for the SCA. The nominations will be provided by the RCSC in a prioritised ranking order. Similarly, a prioritised list of two to three nominations as reserve candidates will also be provided, in the event some of the selected participants are not able to attend the SCA due to unavoidable circumstances.

English language proficiency amongst officers of the civil service in Pakistan is proficient. Interpreting services will not be required for delivery of this short course. 

 

Learning Outcomes:

At the completion of the short course, trainees will have developed the skills and knowledge required to:

  • Undertake comprehensive analysis of policy and legislative research, including the ability to examine and compile relevant committee reports and papers.
  • Develop effective committee management structures and processes including those that support the conduct of public hearings, the management of submissions, and, the development of committee reports.
  • Establish and manage relationships with stakeholder bodies including the ability to identify and implement strategies to engage with; professional associations, representative peak bodies, trade unions, local government associations and members of the public with expertise or particular interests.
  • Establish and manage relationships with the media including; holding public hearings, and the use of social media to engage with the public domain.
  • Effectively implement Parliamentary dispute resolution techniques including: the management of influences and memberships determined by political alliances; obtaining consensus through team building; strategic planning, and using the chairperson role for resolving differences.
  • Maintain records and develop data resources to inform future legislative research and decision making.
  • Adapt proformas used in Australia or improve existing Pakistani proformas used to support Parliamentary Committees, including; committee rules, briefing proformas, submission proformas, and guidelines for bureaucrats appearing before committees.
  • Develop relationships with colleagues to act as resource agents for change and lead the ongoing development of a strong, active Parliamentary Committee system.
  • Understand and apply key TOT principles to conduct training using engaging delivery methods.

 

Return to Work Plans:

Development of a Return to Work Plan that applies the knowledge and skills gained from the course in a manner appropriate to the work context in Pakistan, will be a key deliverable in this SCA. The RTW Plan will define how participants will approach delivering similar training to their counterparts and colleagues. Participants will be equipped with a TOT toolkit (templates, tips, principles) to guide the development of the training components of their RTW Plans.

 

Approach to Course Delivery:

  • An action-based, adult learning approach that includes a diverse range of teaching and learning opportunities, will be employed in the delivery of this course. The approach to the design and delivery of this short course is based on:
  • the principles of adult learning
  • developing program content based on a participant and organisational needs assessment
  • providing an effective balance of theoretical and practical learning
  • supporting knowledge sharing among participants during and post-course.

 

Modalities expected for delivery of this Short Course:

The curriculum and course structure will be designed to be appropriate to the level and experience of the target recipients. It is expected that the course program will incorporate hypothetical scenario activities in line with the action based learning approach.

Dedicated TOT sessions and the integration of TOT principles throughout the course will occur through the use of workshops and group work activities. These will be structured to include method reflection at the end of each selected module/section.

A high level of interaction with relevant Australian professionals and organisations through the participation of aligned Australian counterparts at the Commonwealth, State and Local levels is anticipated. These are envisaged to include observational visits to selected Budget Estimates Committee Hearings at Federal Parliament, and discussions with practitioners from the Senate Committee Office.

 

Schedule and Duration of Training:

The Short Course Award will be delivered over a three week period (15 training days) in Australia.

The services are proposed for deliveryin accordance with the following schedule:

  • Proposed Activity Commencement Date: 16 May 2016 
  • Proposed Travel Dates:   (Departure from Pakistan) 15 May 2016
  • Proposed Course Dates:  16 May to 3 June 2016
  • Proposed Report Completion Date:  8 July 2016