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bolstering the comprehensive capabilities of PBOs around the world.


A glance at Canada’s PBO The Canadian delegation to the seminar was comprised of PBO officials Mr Sahir Khan, Mr Tolga Yalkin, Mr Jason Jacques, and Mr Mostafa Askari, with a special appearance from the former Parliamentary Budget Officer of Canada, Mr Kevin Page. In Mr Khan’s presentation, he provided foreign delegates with a glimpse into the political and economic dynamics which led to the inception of the PBO. An overarching theme in this exposition dealt with the ability to optimize the PBO’s resources and accomplish incredible amounts of analytical work in spite of capacity limitations. The Canadian PBO had $2.8 million dollars for the fiscal year 2013-14, but corresponded to a Canadian Parliament that dealt with $250 billion dollars in appropriations. More strikingly, the PBO is “inherently outnumbered” in that it has only 14 people, as opposed to the 3,500 financial experts available


to the executive branch. However, the Canadian PBO managed to accomplish its mandate diligently due to three factors:


• It is not indebted to a prede- termined outcome, increasing its intellectual rigor; • It leverages top experts from around the world and goes to great lengths to solicit the expertise of the very best in the field wherever they may be; and • Due to the independent and non- monetary nature of their analytical work, they manage to get assistance gratis from independent entities. Mr Khan then elaborated on some of the challenges that the PBO faced, including talent acquisition, budgets, and political opposition. He succinctly expressed: “For each issue that the PBO deals with, half of Parliament will like what the PBO produces, and half won’t; the problem is that it’s always a different half.”


The ePBO platform


One of the highlights of the seminar was unveiled by the Canadian


delegation in the form of the ePBO, an online portal currently under development that will bring a ground- breaking collaborative element to the PBO Community of Practice. Mr Khan indicated that the ePBO portal would create a multiplier effect; by using technology effectively, they could better leverage resources and “a small office of 14 people will start to look really big”. The online portal would use the University of Ottawa’s cloud- computing capacity, and several cutting edge technologies would be incorporated into its functionality, including Cisco System’s Web-X platform for video conferencing, and meta-tagging for improving its search- engine accessibility. The ePBO would address two principal shortcomings: (1) it would enhance the ability of members to share technical content (the “nitty-gritty” of PBO work); and (2) it would allow mid-level staff i.e. those who were more closely involved with the regular and quotidian functioning of projects, to interact in a dynamic fashion. During the seminar itself, delegates were introduced to Collaboration for Development


(C4D), a portal developed by the WBI for similar collaborative efforts, as a precursor to the ePBO.


McGill University’s involvement Organized by Dr Rick Stapenhurst (Professor of Practice at McGill’s Institute for the Study of International Development) and Mr Mitchell O’Brien (team leader of the WBI’s parliamentary strengthening programme), the seminar was a unique blend of themes which highlighted current and topical research, useful practical guidance and consideration of international good practice.


McGill University’s academic input was led by the Dean of Arts, Dr Christopher Manfredi, who spearheaded the discussions by enlightening delegates on McGill’s commitment to improving global governance. He cited previous efforts that the university had made to this effect as well as the continued engagement that McGill had fostered with important governance stakeholders over the years. Dr Manfredi, drew from his experience as


The Parliamentarian | 2013: Issue Three | 199


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