Stronger Legislatures

Stronger legislatures

Creating stronger legislatures

In the UK, there are ongoing reform discussions to which I have contributed, and in which my work serves as a reference. The introduction of a new appropriation structure in Canada was piloted following my testimony recommending this.

LSE research has contributed towards reforms that improve legislative scrutiny and accountability in public finance.

What was the problem?

Accountability and transparency in government are crucial for many reasons, including to help improve policies, maintain public trust, and address challenges. Dr Wehner’s research is committed to promoting reforms that improve legislative scrutiny and accountability in public finance..

What did we do?

Dr Wehner’s research combines interests in comparative politics, political economy, and public policy. Over the past decade his work has largely been concerned with accountability and transparency in government, especially in the context of public finances. A long-standing focus has been the role of legislatures in the budgetary process, which  Wehner examined in his doctoral research, yielding a book and journal publications. This work explores the institutional prerequisites for legislative control of the budget and their relationship with fiscal policy. Wehner’s approach is comparative and includes detailed studies of legislative budgeting.

A second and growing focus of Wehner’s work relates to fiscal transparency and its determinants and consequences, which he has examined in several publications. Since 2006, Wehner has also contributed six assessments of budget transparency and oversight practices in the UK to the Open Budget Index, an independent cross-national ranking and analysis of budgetary disclosure across more than a hundred countries. In addition, he has worked with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to document best practices for independent fiscal institutions, including fiscal councils and parliamentary budget offices, which support transparency and legislative scrutiny. This second strand of Wehner’s research stresses the importance of high-quality budgetary information for accountability and sound and sustainable public finances.

What happened?

Over the past six years, Dr Wehner’s research has been the basis of evidence for six legislative bodies that has directly benefited members and parliamentary committees in four different countries:

This work has some emerging impacts. Since 2016, the Government of Canada has piloted a revised appropriation structure that draws on Wehner’s testimony, and which a committee report subsequently recommended.

In the UK, the Procedure Committee in 2018 announced a further inquiry into the reform of the budget process, including the possibility of creating a budget committee and a parliamentary budget officer to support scrutiny.

While institutional change is often slow to materialise, Wehner’s work has contributed to a growing debate about how to improve legislative scrutiny of public finances.