Types of CSOs





Think Tanks 1

Think tanks are institutions that generate public policy research, analysis, and advice about domestic and international issues, enabling policy makers and the public to make informed decisions about public policy issues. Think tanks may be affiliated or independent institutions, and they often act as a bridge between the academic and policy-making communities, serving the public interest as an independent voice that translates research into a language that is understandable, reliable, and accessible for policy makers and the public.

Because think tanks are committed to research, their expertise can be of utmost importance to SAIs pursuing greater impact of audit work. They are skilled at identification of research problems and tools, data gathering and analysis, consultation with the community, and validation of data, as well as at drawing of conclusions and making of recommendations. In this sense, think tanks can build upon audit reports to develop studies and therefore set the light on SAI findings as valuable information for public debate and enforcement action. Lobbying is also a typical strategy deployed by think tanks, especially those linked to political groups.

Brookings - US Fraser Institute - Canada Fundação Getulio Vargas - Brazil Chatham House - UK

Rights-Based organizations 2

Rights-based organizations define the social, political, or economic problems in terms of human rights. They validate themselves through reference to internationally recognized human rights treaties and principles, working with the judicial system to shape government policy. They specialize in litigation toward the defense of human rights, and they also deploy strategies of campaigning and capacity building to empower citizens and vulnerable groups.

These organizations are well trained in research, communication, and advocacy. They can contribute to strengthening SAI independence, as they promote accountability and the smooth running of a system of checks and balances. At the same time, because these CSOs work closely with citizens and communities, they can back monitoring of SAI recommendations and provide significant input to the audit process.

Amnesty International

Center for Justice and International Law


Advocacy Groups

Advocacy groups come together around a common issue to defend, promote, or support political and social causes (for example, greater rights for immigrants and refugees, environment protection, education, health care, women’s rights). They may recommend certain changes in government, public policy, society, and/or law. Above all, these organizations typically try to raise awareness, acceptance, and knowledge through lobbying, presswork, and activism in view of improving elements of civic life.

Advocacy groups are specially skilled at community organizing, mobilization, communication, networking, and awareness-raising. They become key allies to back SAI work and bring public attention to issues of particular importance, which are generally targeted in audit reports but may not get adequate state response. As these groups work closely with communities, they can also provide valuable input at all stages of the audit process. Their strategies prioritize campaigning and lobbying over research and also include capacity building, technical assistance, service delivery, and monitoring.

Greenpeace Transparency International/a> BRAC

Professional Associations 3

Professional associations are organizations whose primary focus is assisting career interests and professional preparation of members who share a field of activity in common, expanding their knowledge or skills. The definition of a profession is an occupation that requires considerable education and specialized training, such as medicine, law, accounting, or engineering.

These associations´ skills at negotiation and training are critical to motivating professionals and raising working standards, as well as defending labor rights. This is of ultimate importance concerning SAI staff because self-motivation and solid ethical principles improve the institutions´ performance and strengthen its reputation. Most often, these associations deploy strategies that range from capacity building to lobbying and even litigation.

Some professional associations´ activities go beyond their intrinsic field. For instance, the Association of the Personnel of Oversight Organisms in Argentina (APOC) promotes initiatives aimed at increasing audit impact and engaging citizens in SAI work by publishing audit findings in friendly formats, such as press briefings.

El Auditor

Faith-Based Organizations 4

Faith-based organizations are non-profit organizations founded by a religious congregation or religiously motivated incorporators that provide care and services to their communities, ranging from education and health to financial assistance and support to the poor, as well as humanitarian relief in crises and even less conventional forms of services, such as legal aid. In terms of poverty alleviation, FBOs’ work has ranged from charities founded on religious teachings to large poverty alleviation programs founded on comprehensive development, similar to the work of secular development organizations.

FBO members’ specific skills at community integration can be a valuable input to SAIs. As these organizations work closely with beneficiaries of state interventions to ensure service delivery and provide technical assistance, their perspectives can be taken into consideration to enrich audits targeting social programs or services.

Community of Sant’Egidio: Catholic lay movement active globally in areas of interfaith understanding, peace and reconciliation, and HIV/AIDS.


Fe y Alegría: confederation of Jesuit schools targeting disadvantaged youth in Latin American countries.

Fe y Alegría

Political Organizations

Political organizations are dedicated to bringing together individuals with common political interests and can be particularly effective in influencing public opinion. They may support an individual’s candidacy, or they may lobby for specific laws or reforms.

Although SAI work must be independent and objective, political organizations can partner SAIs when it comes to fostering parliamentary follow-up with audit recommendations. Their lobbying and campaigning skills and their ability to push agendas can help build public interest in audit findings and also promote action by PACs.

Although political parties are the most typical form of political organization, it may also include labor unions and organizations that are independent from politicians and focus on specific issues.

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TPA Initiative – ACIJ (2011): “Diagnostic Report on Transparency, Citizen Participation and Accountability in Supreme Audit Institutions of Latin America”

TPA Initiative – ACIJ (2013): “Audit Institutions in Latin America. Transparency, Citizen Participation and Accountability Indicators”.

Cornejo, C., Guillan, A. & Lavin, R. (2013): “When Supreme Audit Institutions engage with civil society: Exploring lessons from the Latin American Transparency Participation and Accountability Initiative”, U4 Practice Insight Nº5, Bergen, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre - Chr. Michelsen Institute.

O´Donnell, Guillermo (2001): “Horizontal. Accountability: The legal institutionalization of mistrust”, Buenos Aires, PostdataN°6, pp. 11-34.

OECD (2013): “Citizen Engagement and Supreme Audit Institutions” (Stocktaking Report: DRAFT).

UN (2013): “Citizen Engagement Practicesby Supreme Audit Institutions”, Compendium of Innovative Practices of Citizen Engagementby Supreme Audit Institutions for Public Accountability.

INTOSAI (2013): “The Value and Benefits of Supreme Audit Institutions – making a difference to the lives of citizens”,ISSAI 12.

INTOSAI (2013): “Beijing Declaration”.

OLACEFS (2013): “The Santiago Declaration”.

INTOSAI (2010):“Principles of transparency and accountability”,ISSAI 20.

INTOSAI (2010):“Principles of Transparency and Accountability - Principles and Good Practices”, ISSAI 21.

INTOSAI (2007): “The Mexico Declaration on SAI Independence“, ISSAI 10.

OLACEFS (2009): “Asuncion Declaration”.

INTOSAI (1977): “Lima Declaration”.

UN (2011): Resolution A/66/209 “Promoting the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration bystrengthening supreme audit institutions”.

UN (2003): “United Nations Convention against Corruption”.