Citizen Participation in the Audit Process


Most often, SAI duties go unnoticed by the general public. Building citizen literacy about the role of the SAIs, financial management issues, and oversight is the first step toward a mutually beneficial engagement strategy. In that sense, the transparency and accountability mechanisms discussed in the previous section can contribute to enhancing civic participation in external scrutinizing and monitoring compliance with audit recommendations.

What Does Public Participation in External Audit Mean?

Public participation in the external audit is the process by which public concerns, needs, and values are incorporated into SAIs’ decision making. It is two-way communication and interaction, with the overall goal of better decisions that are supported by the public.

The core values of public participation in the audit process include the following elements:

  • A mechanism has been established for interaction between the SAIs and citizens who want to participate, and that method goes beyond providing information on audit findings and recommendations to the public.
  • An organized, well-defined process exists for involving the public. It is not something that happens accidentally or coincidentally.
  • An effective mechanism is in place to communicate to participants how their contribution has influenced decisions being made by SAIs.
  • When the public participates in the audit, the SAI retains the ultimate decision making.

Effective implementation of participatory approaches in external audit requires learning about various approaches and methods to maximize the quality of participation and strengthen the voice of citizens demanding greater responsiveness from public officials and service providers. Building on the concept of social accountability, some tools and techniques can be brought into the audit process to elicit participation from the public.

Experience shows that capacity building developed with social accountability tools can help SAIs and CSOs work together in a more productive manner to identify needs and priorities, as well as to allocate scarce resources. Those tools have excellent potential not only to promote participation but also to improve transparency and social accountability and create an atmosphere of trust, confidence, and cooperation. They can also be instrumental in developing a shared understanding of problems and ownership of solutions.

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