The second year of the accord process normally involves the development of specific codes of good conduct for government and the sector. The advantage of this two-step process is that the general framework agreement does not get bogged down with detail, and eventual agreement on such detail is more likely to be achieved in the light of success in reaching an accord on shared vision and principles. The JAT seems prepared, wisely, to follow this model and to use the same joint process for developing the codes of good practice as will produce the accord itself.
The development of codes of conduct would benefit from a good knowledge of existing practices by governments and their impact on voluntary organizations, and of understanding what kinds of practices would better facilitate the work of voluntary organizations. This is best done through a commissioned piece of research than garnered more experientially or casually through the consultation process. Because such research will take time to complete and communicate, the JAT would need to commission it even before the initial accord is signed. The results of this research should then be fed back to voluntary organizations through the sector's multiple networks and to government departments for comment.
Once codes are drafted, another engagement process should follow similar to the original one on the accord itself.
In many respects, agreement on codes of good conduct will affect how the relationship between government departments and voluntary organizations is experienced on a daily basis to a greater degree than the accord itself. Such codes will also necessitate some important measures of capacity building within the sector. If we assume, based on the experience of the UK compacts, that at least the areas of funding and consultation practices are covered by good practice guides, then there are likely to be pressures on the sector to:
Most of these things the sector needs to do anyway if it is going to have a serious role in governance and in promoting active citizenship, but the pressures will be more explicit under codes of conduct. These longer term matters of capacity building are issues that will need to be considered in a collaborative way by the national umbrella organizations and in the broader VSI. They also have implications for reform of government institutions since support for good governance and accountability is one aspect of consumer service provided by the federal regulatory agency. Therefore, the needs of the sector, particularly smaller organizations, in being able to meet the governance challenges created by codes under the accord should be taken into consideration in making recommendations on changes to the mandate and form of the regulatory body.
- comply with the codes and demonstrate that organizations are doing so;
- encourage development of strong memberships and good membership and democratic practices in order to participate actively in consultation and to demonstrate who the organization represents;
- develop better policy capacity in the sector as a whole and obtain the resources to support policy analysis, research and information gathering;
- build stronger bridges to more marginalized parts of the sector including between English Canada and Quebec, with women's groups, minorities and the socially excluded;21
- develop better capacity to work in both official languages and in other languages, as appropriate;
- be able to evaluate and communicate the effectiveness of their consultation practices;
- develop stronger management/control systems and employment policies; and
- if funding practices routinely start to cover the costs of training of volunteers and evaluation, be capable of providing such training and evaluation.