Jenkin: ‘Conspiracy’ on ACOBA

Leading politicians are engaged in a “conspiracy” to prevent reforms to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) chair Bernard Jenkin has told CSW.

By Matt.Ross

08 Aug 2012

Last month, PASC published a report calling for the abolition of ACOBA – whose approval departing senior public servants are meant to seek before taking up jobs outside government – and its replacement with “a model based on the Canadian system of combined legislation and codes of conduct, and overseen by an independent commissioner.”

However, Jenkin told CSW last week that PASC keeps “setting out what the objectives should be, but we are up against both front benches. There is a conspiracy to try to avoid scrutiny.” The new report is the third set of criticisms of ACOBA published by the committee in five years, but leading politicians and civil servants have an interest in minimising public examination of what PASC calls the “revolving door” with business.

The report says ACOBA “lacks adequate powers and resources, and its membership is not in keeping with its role. The way ACOBA operates makes the process opaque to applicants and does nothing to deter... damaging mis-reporting”.

It recommends the appointment of an independent commissioner as an officer of Parliament, with the powers to impose “appropriate civil sanctions” and a duty to monitor compliance. Permanent secretaries would be made “accountable to Parliament for compliance with the legislation by staff”.

Asked for a comment, ACOBA said: “The committee has already taken a number of steps to increase both the transparency and speed of its operations [and will] consider what more it can do to promote greater understanding of its role.”

See news feature.


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