Committee of Public Accounts
The Standing Order 163 of Dáil Éireann requires the Committee of Public Accounts (PAC) to be set up as a standing committee after each general election. The Committee is constituted so as to be impartially representative of the Dáil and consists of thirteen members. It consists of a chairman, vice-chairman and ten members.
The committee is precluded from reviewing the merits of policy objectives and conducts its business on non-party political lines. It meets weekly and takes evidence primarily from the relevant accounting officer or chief executive of the organisation concerned.
The secretariat to the PAC operates under strict rules and regulations. It is responsible for:
- collating evidence
- collecting documentation
- organising the communications systems
- producing the Dáil reports
- supervising the transmission of proceedings on television.
The key stages in the process whereby the C&AG's reports are considered by the PAC are as follows:
- the C&AG's reports are agreed with the departments/organisations concerned
- the reports are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas
- the PAC selects reports for consideration and agrees a work schedule with the C&AG
- written evidence and documentation is sought in advance from the relevant organisations. This documentation is reviewed and analysed and an initial draft report is sent to the witnesses to verify. Oral hearings and cross-examination follow
- the PAC's report to Dáil Éireann, based on the hearings and enquiries, makes recommendations. It is not negotiated with the department/ organisation, and is published together with the minutes of the hearing
- the government responds to the PAC report in a published memorandum, providing information on the steps taken or to be taken to implement the PAC's recommendations and to apply the wider lessons learned.