CliffsNotes are what American students pressed for time turn to at exam time. Rather than reading the whole of Macbeth or the Iliad or sweating through their entire Physics text, students can breeze through the 20-page or so CliffsNotes on the topic, learning enough to at least pass the test. Lawmakers are often in the same position during a session of parliament as these students are on the eve of an exam. They must grasp enough of a subject to write legislation guiding how policy should be implemented but do not have the time to delve deeply into the subject matter.
One topic where this is the case is legislation introducing or revising a policy requiring public servants to disclose information about their personal finances. Thanks to StAR, the Council of Europe, the OECD, and indeed this writer and this blog (sample here and here), a diligent lawmaker could spend weeks if not months perusing volumes on how to create and operate a system for administering a personal financial disclosure law. But like the student who would very much like to read all of Macbeth but has two other tests in the next three days, the legislator’s time is short and the demands on it high.
Hence, a need for a CliffsNotes on financial disclosure systems.
That is what the attached, cleverly but subtly named CliffsNotes on Personal Financial Disclosure Systems is meant to provide. Sufficient guidance for legislators to write a law that does more than simply tell the bureaucracy “create a system” without going into the many fine details covered in the literature. That is for the bureaucrats who will implement the system.
Readers’ views on whether the attached CliffsNotes meets the high standards the real CliffsNotes are known for are warmly solicited.