Ankara Workshop on Financial Oversight

Forty-five officials and scholars participated in a CESS seminar held from 13-15 December 2010 at the Bilkent Hotel in Ankara. They discussed the oversight of defence expenditure by parliament and the Court of Accounts.

This event was the second in the programme Promoting Good Governance in the Security Sector of Turkey.

Forty-five officials and scholars participated in the CESS seminar on Financial Accountability and Budgetary Transparency of the Defence Sector.

Gathered at the Bilkent Hotel in Ankara from 13 to 15 December 2010, they discussed the oversight of defence expenditure by parliament and the Court of Accounts. This event was the second in the programme Promoting Good Governance in the Security Sector of Turkey.

The meeting actually consisted of two seminars. The first was a high-level seminar on the morning of 13 December. Parliamentarians and academics raised a simple but important question was raised: why do we need an army? Politicians around the world should always ask themselves this fundamental question, because it affects the way they plan their defence and it has direct implications for the defence budget.

But whatever the level of spending, parliament will need to allocate resources carefully and then to monitor how they are used.

The seminar then dwelt on the Court of Accounts. Here the discussion centred on performance audits. These are objective assessments that measure the efficiency and effectiveness of government expenditures and relate them to the resources available.

In Turkey this is a problem because of the secretive nature of military expenditures. In practice, the Court of Accounts cannot audit military spending, even though it has the authority to do so.

The high-level seminar was followed by an interactive seminar for parliamentary staffers, employees of the Court of Accounts, officials from government departments, and researchers. This ran from the afternoon of 13 December until 15 December 2010.

The two main themes of financial control (the allocation of resources and the monitoring of their use) were also at the heart of the interactive seminar.

We conducted a role-play exercise in which a minister of defence bought expensive helicopters from a supplier who was a close friend. Then for one and a half years, he obstructed attempts by the Court of Accounts to investigate his spending on the aircraft. As it was played in Ankara, the game paid great attention to the friendship between the minister and the helicopter manufacturer but merely noted the minister’s obstruction of the Court of Accounts.

When it came to evaluation, the participants gave the course high marks for relevance and quality. They especially appreciated the fact that we focussed closely on practical governance issues in a clearly defined policy domain.

They said they had found the training sessions quite tough and technical at times, but not excessively so. Their main point of criticism was that they would have liked more time for discussion.

Eight participants of the first seminar in CESS’s Turkey programme, held in October 2010, hadsubmitted an analytic policy memo for discussion. These memos were reviewed in a paper workshop held at the Bilkent Hotel in Ankara on 12 December. A panel of five experts commented on the memos, and this was followed by lively discussion. CESS will select the two most interesting papers and include them in a Greenwood Paper, to be published towards the end of the Turkey programme.

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