Checklist for inquiry planning

Checklist for inquiry planning

Build a checklist for integrated committee teams to use in planning, developing and running inquiries. Once initial decisions are made on the remit, teams need to plan, design and run the inquiry deciding an tracking things like timescales, information needs, internal and external stakeholder involvement and resources. A checklist could help teams to do this in the most effective way and also be a way of sharing best practice across teams.


Any checklist/toolkit also needs took at how to develop and deliver cross-committee scrutiny between Committee and clerking staff. The CJC/HSCS/SJSS committees work on drug deaths provides a starting point. This also needs to include other key depts (BIT, Broadcast, PACT, PCO, SPICe, OR etc.). Sharing best practice is not enough. Central clerking team need to assume a general co-ordinating role within clerking, and with other depts on cttee scrutiny.

A consistent approach to project management and planning would be useful - particularly for cross-team collaboration when working quickly and understanding the resources necessary to deliver. A RACI approach to a project management template may help (highlighting who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed) in the process. Template can include Brief, Outputs, Outcomes, Budget etc Having all teams included in the writing and update of this document will ensure everyone is on track.

Picking up on Sean's point on cross committee work, a simple excel planner worked to record and store papers for the NCS bill scrutiny(so easy sharing), witnesses, dates of meetings. Possible (I would hope) for CA of lead committee for any inquiry to ensure it is kept upto date, but individuals from any part of the wider team could up date into it. I thought it was a really useful tool, (devised and shared by Susan Brown)but probably should be created as part of the pre planning process for inqu

Picking up on several points below, I think a checklist or template could serve as a useful prompt, rather than being prescriptive. It could include prompts to consider approaches to scoping and researching topics, the committee's objectives for the inquiry and intended outcomes, different approaches to evidence gathering (including public and expert views), timing, required resources/support from other teams, communications and follow-up. This could be supplemented by the case studies.

We might need to think about challenges of language in the parliament, The idea of programmes and projects is universally used in some offices, but never in others. Do we need to create a better shared language in the parliament? This could help on the scrutiny side with monitoring and evaluation, objective setting - and linking our work to the Strategic and Delivery plans - and so to where the conversation on resource takes place.

One counterpoint - will a checklist become a tick-box exercise, and might it limit creativity?

Similar to Ailsa's last point, I think a checklist would be helpful but would need to be framed in a way that doesn't discourage different approaches or suggest that things need to be done in a certain way. So something that acts as a prompt of the things that need to be thought about, but without being prescriptive.

It would be good if the checklist included a prompt to think about the aims of the inquiry (maybe even to discuss with members to make them think about what they're actually trying to achieve.)

A template project planner for inquiries/Bills would also be helpful.

On Jenny's point about template project planner, it might be helpful to create a bank of these to give people some ideas of how different inquiries can be planned. People's brains work differently so what works for one person in terms of planning might not for others - e.g. some people like a spreadsheet, or a mind map. Might be helpful to signpost people to some different examples of how planning inquiries can work.

Strongly agree with Jyoti's point on need to understand what scrutiny can achieve. Including check points which encourage evidence-based scoping and scrutiny, and outcomes based scrutiny in particular, is a good way to stop inquiries becoming sprawling and keep members on track. I've also had members say that they think focusing on evidence/outcomes can help with party political roadblocks.

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