Participation During the Planning Phase

Thematic workshops

Thematic workshops are a variant of participatory planning meetings, in which the call for participation is centered in a specific area (for example, an audit in the health care sector). A thematic approach in the implementation of strategies to engage with civil society encourages the participation of organizations specialized in particular topics or problems of public interest (such as health, education, public transport, and the environment) that can make a more focused contribution to the audit process.

At the same time, the engagement of CSOs tends to be more effective when they have clear incentives to participate. Whereas CSOs focused on issues such as governance, transparency, and accountability may be more familiar with the work of the SAI, that organizations focused on particular problems like the aforementioned likely are not aware of the role and mission of the SAI and the ways public auditing can contribute to improve the efficiency and performance of government in different areas of their interest.

Establishing a mechanism of engagement with external stakeholders from a thematic approach can contribute tremendously to improve the quality of audit reports, with the input of experts and CSOs that possess valuable knowledge of the sector and experience in the field.

Although the planning phase of the cycle is a good starting point for the SAI to get feedback from specialized CSOs and experts, the thematic approach can generate a sustained relationship with external stakeholders that can contribute to the audit work during all the phases of the cycle (planning, fieldwork, dissemination of reports, and follow-up of recommendations).

Goals of the mechanism

  • To improve annual planning in specific areas of public interest
  • To improve the planning of actual audit work
  • To get feedback from specialized CSOs and experts during fieldwork and data collection
  • To disseminate the findings and recommendations of audit reports among a specialized public
  • To generate ownership of audit results by beneficiary CSOs that likely will monitor and demand for compliance of recommendations

Step by Step

1. Identify a relevant thematic area or sector
  • SAI identify sectors for which collaboration with CSOs is needed.

  • SAI can also consider the sectors depending on the highest level of budget allocation or sectors or public investment sectors (such as roads, health, and irrigation) or service delivery sectors (such as health and education).

2. Create a database
  • Identify think tanks, policy research organizations, or CSOs that are working on these specific sectors or topics.

3. Determine information to be produced and distributed
  • SAI finalizes the type of documents it wants to share with these think tanks/policy research organizations, or CSOs.

Relevant documents may include mandate and functions of the SAI; previous audit reports on the corresponding sector (performance audit reports, financial and compliance audit), information about follow-up audits, and so forth.

4. Define the purpose of the consultation
  • SAI defines the purpose of the meeting or consultation.

For example, the auditors´ team working on health sectors might want to consult a CSO working on the same issue to gather audit evidence, discuss robust data collection techniques at the beneficiary level, seek reports that these CSOs have already produced, and so on.

Once SAI finalizes the purpose, then they need to convene the consultation meeting.

5. Send invitations
  • The invitation to participate should clearly specify the purpose of the workshop.

  • The agenda of the event should be shared, as well as all relevant material produced.

  • Intermediary CSOs can help contact the organizations, follow up the invitations, and secure confirmations.

6. Hold the workshop

During the workshop:

  • SAI can present its mandate, findings from previous years´ audit reports, and the purpose of the workshop.

  • Each CSO can give a brief presentation on the main findings of its work in the sector.

  • Participants discuss topics such as the main issues, problems of the sector, critical programs, and entities that should be audited.

  • Participants deliberate on next steps (channels to provide input, entry points for further cooperation—during planning, fieldwork, dissemination of reports, or follow-up of recommendations).

7. Analyze Proposals
  • SAI analyzes the proposals.

  • SAI discusses internally whether it can benefit from collaboration with any of these CSOs during the fieldwork.

8. Follow up
  • SAI can inform participants about how their contributions produced results in the audit process.

  • SAI can inform participants about the results of the audit process.

Who can participate Challenges and responses Cases
  • CSOs with expertise in the selected topic

  • Research centers and think tanks

  • Policy makers

  • Journalists

Challenge: Ensuring effective participation


  • Adequate planning and logistics

  • Targeting the right audience and stakeholders who have been working in the field

  • Sufficient and clear information about the issue under discussion (audit reports that have been produced in that field, information on how audits are performed and their main conclusions, and so forth).

Challenge: Advancing sustainable relationships beyond the workshop


  • Opening channels for regular contact (website, blog, social media, hotline)

  • Requesting feedback from participants and further material they have produced on the topic



Any comments? Please notify us here.


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