Constitutional Commission Report.
THE Constitutional Reform Commission has recommended that the Director of Audit should answerable to parliament and that the name of the post should be changed to Auditor General.
The following section concludes Chapter Seven of the Commission’s Report. We will continue serializing the report on Saturday with Chapter Eight which deals with local government:
The Director of Audit
The Commission reviewed the section in the Constitution relating to the Director of Audit. The Commission felt that the powers of the Director of Audit were clearly spelt out under Section 90. Notwithstanding that, the Commission felt that this office should be strengthened in relation to existing duties and responsibilities. Additionally, in the Commission’s view, the Director of Audit should be answerable to parliament. This would introduce a measure of accountability that would contribute to the overall thrust by the Commission to re-engineer the public service through the use of parliamentary scrutiny as a new device to promote greater efficiency and delivery of service.
One submission was that there should be a title change from Director of Audit to Auditor General. The Commission was referred to other jurisdictions where such a change had been effected. The argument advanced is that there is a perception that the office of Director of Audit was a department of a broader office not realising that it had overriding jurisdiction over all government offices. A further argument was that many departments were headed by a director and the perception was that the director of Audit was just another such Director and not seen as a senior constitutional position, which it is. The Commission felt that the arguments advanced for a name change were sufficiently compelling.
With respect to the Director of Audit, the Commission recommends the following:
(116) The Constitution should make it clear that the Director of Audit is answerable to Parliament.
(117) A name change from Director of Audit to Auditor General and the new office should be strengthened accordingly.
The Director of Public Prosecutions
The Commission considered the provisions of Section 72(3) of the Constitution that permits the Attorney General (if the person holding the office is a public officer) to also hold the office of Director of Public Prosecutions. Commissioners felt that it was important to make a separation between the functions of the Attorney General and those of the Director of Public Prosecutions in order to remove the taint of the political directorate upon prosecutions being handled by the State.
There was a submission that the provision which requires that the Judicial and Legal Services Commission to consult with the Prime Minister in the appointment of a Director of Public Commissioners did not support that submission because it was felt that consultation with the Head of Government on such an important appointment was reasonable. However, the Commission was of the view that the Minority Leader should also be consulted.
With respect to the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Commission recommends the following:
(118) The person holding the office of Director of Public Prosecutions should no longer be permitted to hold the office of Attorney General simultaneously under any circumstances.
(119) Both the Prime Minister and the Minority Leader should be consulted in the appointment of the Director of Public Prosecutions