Participation During the Audit

Other tools and practices during the audit execution phase

Citizens and CSOs can provide valuable input into the audit process, whether they get involved in the fieldwork with the audit team or not. There are several ways in which they can exercise social control and assist the formal scrutiny SAIs undertake.

CSOs can use various social accountability tools to complement existing auditing procedures by SAIs, especially while conducting fieldwork for performance and compliance audits. The use of social accountability mechanisms during the audit implementation phase can add value in the performance audit—for instance, by taking advantage of citizen groups’ experiences with the survey methodology to assess performance of public service delivery agencies, or by using social audits to assess the compliance of a government program, process, or transaction and determining whether or not it has followed applicable rules and guidelines.

This section provides a closer view of mechanisms to assist SAIs during the execution of audits, as well as some social accountability tools that can be incorporated into those processes.

Mechanism: Feedback

  • During planning (what exactly should be audited)
  • During data collection
  • CSOs and citizens may have privileged access to some information regarding governmental agencies or programs, —either because they are beneficiaries of those programs or because the auditee may feel less reluctant to respond to those actors because, unlike SAIs, they are not officially in charge of audits.

  • Feedback improves the scope of audit work by targeting an audience who has been working in the field and has valuable information.


Based on the recognition of previous work and a track record in specific sectors or topics, SAI invites stakeholders working in the field to share insights and collect information to enrich the audit process that is planned or under way.

Who can participate
  • CSOs

  • Research centers and think tanks

  • Citizens

  • Beneficiaries of public services

Challenges and responses

Enhancing effectiveness

  • Workshops and meetings to explain to participants the key points of the auditing exercise (what is being audited, how it is done, and what is expected from them)

  • Developing special forms and methodologies to collect accurate data

  • Requesting feedback from participants


  • Agreements concerning ongoing collaboration for monitoring compliance with audit recommendations


In the Dominican Republic, the SAI promotes social audits in which CSOs can provide support in data collection regarding institutions that may be audited. The instrument for gathering the information is designed by technicians within the SAI and delivered to the Department of Social Control for review and approval. That department is in charge of managing citizen engagement mechanisms and, therefore, of handling MOUs with the CSOs interested in taking part in these exercises. The institution provides training, and CSOs perform oversight, collect information relating to performance and management of public institutions, and then report back to SAI if they identify improper actions or possible fraud. The information is handled like a citizen complaint and follows the same course of action, potentially triggering audits.

See more here

Mechanism: Support in the field

(Contacting beneficiaries)


Having citizens help with fieldwork acknowledges users of public services as clients or customers whose voices and perspectives can enhance the auditing of specific government interventions.


When performing special audits on government programs (VFM audits), the SAI contacts beneficiaries and recipients of public interventions to obtain assessments of service delivery and incorporate their insights into the process and its results.

Who can participate
  • Beneficiaries of public services

  • Citizens

Challenges and responses

Enhancing effectiveness

  • Targeting the beneficiaries (selecting a representative sample)

  • Ensuring effective communication with beneficiaries regarding what is expected from them


The SAI of Colombia promotes joint audits with citizens and CSOs and with beneficiaries of public interventions. Those actors provide input throughout the execution of audits on-site, at meetings and roundtables, or through reports and any other form of information that can help the SAI improve the audit process.

See more here and here.

Any comments? Please notify us here.


Nino, E. (2009): “Access to Public Information and Citizen Participation in Supreme Audit Institutions”, Buenos Aires, ACIJ.

IDI-INTOSAI (2013): “How to increase the use and impact of audit reports”.

DESA & INTOSAI (2011): “Effective practices of cooperation between SAIs and citizens to enhance public accountability”.

UN (2006):“Dialogue on Civil Society Engagement in Public Accountability”, Workshop Report, Manila, Philippines.

Cornejo, C. (2012): “Citizenship and Supreme Audit Institutions: Transparency, Civic Participation and Accountability”, report on the Expert´s Forum, coordinated on behalf of the TPA INITIATIVE (April 16th to 27th, 2012) in the Journal of the Ibero- American Experts’ Network Nº 9, pp. 42-47, Madrid, 1st semester.

TPA INITIATIVE – ACIJ, (2013): “Information Technologies and Public Control in Latin America. Contributions and Best Practices for the Strengthening of Supreme Audit Institution Websites”.

Castro, M., Cornejo, C. et al (2013): “Transparency, Participation and Accountability in Public Oversight: advancing Latin American SAIs agenda at the subnational level” in Supreme Audit Institutions. Accountability for development, NOMOS, INTOSAI-GIZ.

UN-INTOSAI (2011): “Audit and Advisory by SAIs: Risks and Opportunities, as well as Possibilities for Engaging Citizens”, Conclusions of the 22nd Symposium held in Vienna, March 5–7.

Van Zyl, A. (2013): “Greasing the Wheels of the Accountability System: How Civil Society Organizations close the Gap between Transparency and Accountability”, Washington D.C., International Budget Partnership.

Dassen, N. Arias, J. et al (2009): “Strengthening responsibility from public officials: building bridges between oversight agencies and civil society”.

Ramkumar, V. &Krafchik, W. (2006): “The Role of Civil Society Organizations in Auditing and Public Finance Management”, The International Budget Project.

Guillan Montero, A. (2012): “Building bridges: Advancing transparency and participation through the articulation of Supreme Audit Institutions and civil society”, Paper presented at the 2nd Transatlantic Conference on Transparency Research, Utrecht, June 7-9.

ELLA (2012): “The Latin American Approach to Improving Public Spending Oversight”.

OLACEFS – GIZ/BMZ (2012): “Citizen participation in public oversight: good practices for strengthening relationships between SAIs and citizenship”, Commission on Citizen Participation, San José.

INTOSAI (2013): “Challenges of SAIs regarding Sustainable and Efficient Ways to Communicate their Audit Findings and Recommendations”, INTOSAI Basic Paper, 22nd UN/INTOSAI Symposium, Vienna, March 5-7.