Boosted by the introduction of elections for committee chairs, committees have been experimenting with new ways of conducting inquiries. But too frequently committees focus on completing tasks and delivering outputs – like reports – rather than on making an impact and delivering the outcomes they would like to see – like more effective government and better policy outcomes. Different sorts of inquiry are good at delivering different sorts of impact. So we argue that committees need to build their inquiries around the impact they hope to have – choosing their approach to suit the audience they hope to reach and the outcome they want to secure. And they need to make conscious decisions about the trade-offs inherent in the decisions they make – one inquiry cannot hope to achieve everything and some approaches and outcomes will preclude others. Committees also need to remember that sometimes the process of an inquiry can be just as valuable as its outputs. When we asked interviewees about the impact of the Home Affairs Committee, many more referred to its evidence sessions than to the reports to which they eventually contributed. Even the process of deciding what to enquire into can be an opportunity for […]

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