Saturday, July 18, 2009

Why independence matters

Here is a quote from a story in the Hill Times from May 25, 2009 (sorry no link; it's a pay site).
But even with such a formalized process, the PBO would still have to deal with an innovation that the rest of the world has taken for granted for the better part of two decades: a website.

"You know," says Page, "we fought hard to get that website. They didn't want us to have a website. They thought it was breaking with tradition."
This is precisely why the OPBO needs to be independent. If the OPBO has to devote resources and time for internal fights with the Library of Parliament over the existence of a website--without which it cannot effectively communicate to the public--then it needs to be independent of the Library.

Here is what UWO Professor Emeritus Michael Parkin said about the CBO in the United States in an email to me:
One of the strengths of the CBO is its email service. I receive a daily (almost) email with links to the latest CBO web postings. This service is extremely valuable and leads me to data and analysis that I would otherwise miss. Perhaps OPBO already provides such a service. If it does, it should be better advertised. If it doesn't, it should start such a service. Researchers, teachers, and journalists -- not to mention MPs -- would all benefit from it.
The OPBO is pretty new and small-scale, so it doesn't generate enough output right now to justify a daily email. But Prof. Parkin's point that communication directly with the public is of great service and enhances the value of a budget office is one that I endorse.