Organizational Governance Within Parliamentary Institutions: Starting with a Framework.

AuthorSogomonian, Artour

The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia has created what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind governance framework for a parliamentary institution. This authoritative guide outlines the framework, processes and practices in support of good governance in the very unique parliamentary context. In this article, the author explains why the framework was established, details the principles informing it, and its general structure. He concludes by noting that when parliaments are proactive in establishing and maintaining good governance internally, they help create and sustain public confidence in these institutions.


From time to time, parliamentary institutions undergo a period of significant reforms--sometimes procedural, sometimes administrative. The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia is no exception. Such transformations are necessary for any institution to modernize and to meet evolving needs and expectations.

In late 2018, the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia embarked on a journey of administrative reforms, one that continues to this day. This journey was triggered by events that shook public confidence in the institution. The necessity of strengthened governance processes became evident. There was a need within the organization to clearly identify roles, responsibilities, authorities, lines of accountability, and practices that would provide certainty with respect to the administrative structures within the Legislative Assembly, and also provide certainty with respect to decision-making.

A great deal of work throughout the organization culminated in the production of the Legislative Assembly Governance Framework. This document is believed to be the first of its kind in a parliamentary institution. It serves as an authoritative guide outlining the framework, processes, and practices in support of good governance. The Legislative Assembly Governance Framework was unanimously adopted by the Legislative Assembly Management Committee, the all-party statutory parliamentary governance board, on January 31, 2022.

Why is Good Governance Important?

"Good governance in the public sector encourages better informed and longer-term decision making as well as the efficient use of resources. It strengthens accountability for the stewardship of those resources. [...] Good governance can improve organizational leadership, management, and oversight, resulting in more effective interventions and, ultimately, better outcomes." (1)

These objectives apply equally within a parliamentary setting. The entity charged with governance must not only be concerned about how administrative structures support Members in the execution of their constitutional duties and better enable them to undertake these responsibilities, but also how they are positioned to sustain processes expected within a modern organization. This is particularly important when the institution is funded from the public purse.

Why a Governance Framework?

The Legislative Assembly Governance Framework was prepared for Members of the Legislative Assembly to serve as the authoritative guide to the governance structure under which the Legislative Assembly executes its administrative and financial responsibilities. There are several elements in a sound governance system including clarity of objectives and expectations, clear lines of accountability, and transparency in the application of and compliance with rules. In this context, as previously noted, the Governance Framework provides clarity of roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities with respect to and between the various components of the functional decision-making hierarchy within the Legislative Assembly as an entity. The Governance Framework also sets out the processes and practices that support good governance within the Legislative Assembly.

The Legislative Assembly is the heart of parliamentary democracy in the province. British Columbians look to the institution to be a model of good governance--one that sustains their trust in the institution and its operating practices. But the Legislative Assembly environment is a complex one, where several groups intersect and operate with full or partial autonomy--including caucuses, legislative offices, constituency offices, and the Legislative Assembly Administration.

The Legislative Assembly Governance Framework recognizes this reality at its core and aims to establish a structure that balances the realities of this environment with best practices, professional obligations, multi-faceted service delivery requirements, risk management, fiscal responsibility, and expectations for accountability and transparency.

The Legislative Assembly Governance Framework captures the nature of our parliamentary setting but is founded on best governance practices published by reputable organizations in British Columbia, Canada, and beyond.

The Legislative Assembly: Institution vs. Organization

To understand the Legislative Assembly's governance structure, one must first understand the distinction between the Legislative Assembly as an institution and the Legislative Assembly as an organization. For clarity, there is only one constitutional entity: the Legislative...

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