I have been highly impressed by the work being undertaken by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament in scrutinising the reports of the Auditor General and tabling its own findings and recommendations in the National Assembly for debate. Of late, the recommendations have been very specific and action-oriented in order to force the authorities to take corrective action. However, it is the follow-up on the implementation of these recommendations that is still a cause for major concern. When the Auditor General reports to Parliament, it is not his/her primary role to enforce or follow-up on the Government Department’s compliance or implementation of recommendations. The Public Accounts Committee should assume the role of following up with Ministries and Departments to see how they have responded to the Auditor General’s recommendations. Follow up is an important part of the accountability loop for public accounts committees. It is an essential element of the government's accountability to the Legislature. Unless the PAC reviews the status of implementation of report recommendations and other commitments made by witnesses, the public service may not appreciate the importance and consequences of the PAC‘s hearings. Implementation of PAC recommendations is one measure of the committee's usefulness and effectiveness. But how can the PAC effectively follow-up on the implementation of recommendations? First and foremost, the PAC reports should be prepared as soon as possible after the Committee concludes an inquiry, while the proceedings are still fresh in everyone's mind. Reporting on completion of each inquiry has the advantage of getting implementation started sooner and facilitates easier monitoring by the Committee. The same applies to the Auditor General reports themselves that must be produced on time. Implementation of recommendations becomes challenging if audit reports are produced several years later when the culprits might have left government. Enforcing Section 11 of the Audit Office Act can assist in the implementation of recommendations. This provision says if at any time it appears desirable to the Public Accounts Committee that any matter relating to public monies or State property should be reported upon by the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Committee shall direct the Comptroller and Auditor General to prepare a special report thereon for transmission to the Committee and to the Minister of Finance and to an appropriate minister if it relates to a public entity, designated corporate body or statutory fund. Parliament should review the Audit Office Act and Public Finance Management Act to determine if the provisions are adequate to ensure implementation of PAC recommendations and corrective action for Auditor General Findings. These statutes must be aligned to reflect the letter and spirit of the constitutional provisions on principles of sound public finance management. There must be penalties for non-compliance with financial reporting requirements. The PAC should establish a follow-up schedule, for example 3 or 6 months after the report is tabled. If the committee is unable to hold hearings on all the reports of the Auditor General, it may send a follow-up letter to the rest of the departments and entities audited asking for a progress report on the reports and recommendations the committee has not reviewed. The PAC should insist on the preparation of action plans by ministries and departments to be used to monitor and report on implementation. The action plans must include targeted dates for implementing the actions. A formal government response does not always ensure that the committee’s recommendations are acted upon. A formal tracking report produced regularly by the audit institution systematically considers the implementation of each recommendation. Instead of separate tracking report, some auditors include a chapter that reviews departmental action on previous recommendations in their annual audit report. The Ghanaian experiences can assist our own PAC in its follow-up action. The evolution of proceedings of the PAC in Ghana to a point where they opened up proceedings to the public has significantly boosted Parliament’s effort to promote accountability, combat corruption, strengthen budgetary oversight and improve resource allocation. The Ghana PAC has a steering committee to specifically identify recommendations not implemented. The committee reports to the House include status of implementation of previous committee report. After adoption by the House, the committee will write to responsible ministries to implement the recommendations. The committee will also conduct follow-up visits to ascertain status of implementation. The Kenya National Assembly has established a Committee on Implementation. Its mandate includes scrutiny of resolutions of the House including adopted Committee reports, petitions and the undertakings given by the Government on the floor of the House. The Committee examines whether or not such decisions and undertakings have been implemented, the extent to which they have been implemented, and whether such implementation has taken place within the minimum time necessary. The Committee also looks into whether or not legislation passed by the House has been operationalized, the extent to which such operationalization has taken place and within the minimum time necessary. It is further mandated to propose sanctions to the House on any Minister who fails to implement resolutions of the House. Since its establishment a few years back, the Committee on Implementation has managed to pursue the implementation of various committee recommendations as well as undertakings given by Ministers on the floor of the House. John Makamure is the Executive Director of the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust. Feedback: john.makamure@gmail.comjohnma@sapst.org