Benefits of increased engagement

There is increasing evidence, in both literature and practice, demonstrating the added-value of SAI-citizen engagement around the audit cycle and budget oversight at both the local and national level. SAI-citizen engagement mechanisms create complementarities that allow both parties to leverage and amplify their capacity and voice respectively, which is necessary in order to ensure a response to the audit recommendations presented to the executive. Increased engagement leads to synergies that raise the effectiveness of SAIs and citizens and CSOs alike, and ultimately translates into improved service delivery and effective use of public resources. More specifically:

Benefits for Supreme Audit Institutions

Increased efficiency

  • Citizens and CSOs can help identify areas of possible mismanagement, inefficiency, or corruption, thus expanding SAIs’ scope.
  • CSOs and other external stakeholders can provide valuable information for the audit process and even take part in it, which can enrich the audit results, especially for areas in which those stakeholders have specific knowledge and expertise.

More accountability from the audited entity

  • Citizens and CSOs can put pressure on legislative and executive agencies to take and enforce corrective actions, as well as help monitor the executive´s follow-up to audit reports and subsequent decisions taken by parliamentary committees.

Strengthened legitimacy and independence

  • Citizens and other stakeholders, such as the media, can act as both users and replicators of information produced by SAIs, thus increasing the audience and contributing to building bonds with other agents that may benefit from SAIs’ work.
  • As SAIs make their work visible and engage with external stakeholders, they can build trust and a strong reputation for the operations they perform, which ultimately enforces their autonomy from government.
  • Citizens and CSOs can monitor transparency in the process of appointing SAI authorities, which can enforce SAI independence.

Benefits for Civil Society Organizations

Enriched CSOs´ strategies and agenda

  • CSOs working in specific fields can build upon the information SAIs produce to promote advocacy strategies aligned with their own agendas.

Improved service delivery

  • Generating alliances with SAIs can help to improve service delivery and respect of human rights, which is in the core mission for many CSOs.


  • CSOs can be trained in methodologies for financial management and auditing so that they implement those methodologies when developing their own research and reports.

Efforts are currently being made to forge a comprehensive framework to harness the renewed energies created by communication between SAIs and citizens.” United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA). 2013. “Citizen Engagement Practices by Supreme Audit Institutions.” Compendium of Innovative Practices of Citizen Engagement by Supreme Audit Institutions for Public Accountability. New York: United Nations.
OECD. 2013. “Supreme Audit Institutions and Stakeholder Engagement Practices. A Stocktaking Report”.

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Further information
To accrue the benefits generated from citizen engagement, SAIs rely on national legislations, global initiatives, or international legal frameworks to create an enabling environment for such activities, especially when their own mandates do not have specific provisions for it.

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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”.