Comparative Table of Parliamentary TA Institutions


Work Procedures and Methods


Any matter referred to the OPECST leads to the appointment of one or more rapporteurs, exclusively selected amongst the members of the OPECST. Several study programmes have brought together an MP and a Senator.


Once appointed, the rapporteur first makes a feasibility study. This study aims at providing a snapshot of knowledge on the topic, determining possible research avenues, appreciating the possibilities of obtaining relevant results in the required time period and, last, determining the necessary means to start a study programme. The rapporteur then submits the conclusions of his feasibility study together with methodological remarks to the members of the OPECST. At that stage, he suggests either that the study should be closed, (this happens very rarely), or he proposes to modify the extent of the study (a study first dealing with biofuels was thus extended to prospects for development of non food agricultural products), or, much more frequently a study programme is set up that leads to the drawing?up of a report.


The rapporteur then goes ahead with hearings enabling him to gather, without exclusion, all opinions from concerned persons and organisations. He may also travel in France or abroad in order to inspect installations and firms connected with his work. Throughout his study, the rapporteur is assisted by a parliamentary civil servant and, if need be, by a study group made up of specialists from outside Parliament. He may also hire French or foreign free?lance experts and consultants for further investigation into specific items. He may likewise gather the opinions of trade unions, professional bodies, and organisations for the protection of the environment or consumer defence. However, the OPECST reports are not restricted to setting out the experts´ points of view. Their conclusions are the work of Parliamentarians and may go beyond merely informing, by including suggestions and recommendations. If the rapporteur deems it necessary, public hearings, open to the press, are organised to gather and confront the opinions of leading figures and organisations wishing to express themselves on the subject in discussion. The minutes of these hearings may then be annexed to the report.


The OPECST rapporteur have identical powers to financial rapporteurs: they may therefore carry out direct investigations on any State Agency and have access to any available document, with the exception of those dealing with military matters or State security. In addition, in the event of difficulties encountered in exercising their mission, the OPECST rapporteurs may request to be given the prerogatives granted to parliamentary committees of inquiry.


At the end of their work, the rapporteurs submit their draft report and their conclusions to the members of the OPECST. These conclusions are presented in such a way that they may be used directly for legislative work or budgetary discussion. Members of the OPECST must decide whether they publish these reports and all or part of the minutes of the hearings and the contributions by the experts. In this respect, the OPECST´s decisions are mostly unanimous and the consensus of its decisions is one of the OPECST´s main features.

The documents from the OPECST, which make up a special collection within all the parliamentary reports, are on sale at the »Boutique de l´Assemblée Nationale«, at the »Espace Librairie du Sénat« and at the Journal officiel, and are available on each Assembly website. Since its creation, the OPECST has published more than 90 reports.


Chapter Work Procedures and Methods - all countries

Country Report France



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