It was very interesting to learn about the PBO in the Dominican Republic. In her presentation, Sorangel Gonzalez, explained that the PBO had been created in 2009 through a collaborative effort between the UNDP and the Chamber of Deputies. The Dominican Republic has a bicameral congress consisting of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. It is notable that a new constitution was agreed in 2010 requiring the Congress to hold the government to account and the PBO is an important institution in this regard.
The PBO consists of 3 persons: 2 economists and 1 lawyer. Outputs from the PBO include an annual analysis of the budget, quarterly reports on budget execution and reports on expenditures and revenues and the public debt. The PBO responds to all requests from Deputies, but does not have the capacity at present to service the Senate.
One comment made by Sorangel was particularly resonant. This was in response to a question about how to get parliamentarians interested in the work of the PBOand she said that much depended on the leadership displayed by the head of the PBO. Such leadership is particularly crucial in the PBO's formative years - as demonstrated by Kevin Page in Canada. Linked to this is the need to establish clear and transparent practices in appointing the head and - as shown by the experience in Liberia - the need to ensure that the head has the power to appoint his/her own staff. A further key point that has emerged from this week is that it can be very helpful to recruit staff with experience of working within the executive (and of course they must have the required technical ability).