Scrutiny of government activity – at all levels – is crucial to its effectiveness. This goes beyond holding decision-makers to account. It involves non-executives (scrutineers) bringing their own independent expertise to bear on strategy and policy issues, and working with the executive to develop new and effective ways of working. It is a high-profile role in many governmental organisations, demonstrating its centrality to the democratic process.
Scrutiny in government is carried out by a variety of means. Ultimately, most “formal” business is carried out at committees, but scrutiny members work informally on reviews and task groups, carrying out site visits, desktop research and work with the public to ensure that their discussions are robust and evidence-based.