Unbelievable, Unreliable, Incredible

Kevin Page's most stimulating presentation emphasized the significant dimension that "another data point" is essential.  He raised four lessons of working with the Canadian PBO:

1. Do Quality Work

2. Hire Good Experts

3. Take advantage of Difficult Circumstances

4. Be visible.

The former Parliamentary Budget Officer from Canada emphasized a common theme of this meeting: the fragility of the legitimacy of PBOs as actors in the policy process (as part of the parliament)-- even when the work that they do is objective, peer-reviewed, not bound to any one political option, and not owned by any political party, but to providing good information and background to the policy process more generally.   The lessons are straight ahead and it is the case that information-generating agencies, such as a PBO, become even more important as policy becomes more complex and technical.  Since all legitimate actors in the policy process require good information, it is important to establish PBOs in legislation that give them a legitimate role in supporting the parliament's efforts to pass legislation, to contribute to the budget, and to oversee the executive.  As was emphasized at this session, this work strengthens governments no matter which party is in power.