Lead authors: Vien Suerte-Cortez (ANSA-EAP) & Carolina Cornejo (ACIJ)
Contributing authors: Carolina Vaira , Hirut M'cleod, Manuel E. Contreras (World Bank)
We have seen in previous modules how Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) have started to deepen their citizen engagement to increase the effectiveness of external oversight on the public financial management system. We have also learned specific tools and mechanisms through which SAIs are engaging with citizens. Despite this positive and encouraging trend, collaboration between SAIs and CSOs does not happen automatically, and that fact raises a number of questions regarding what is still needed for such engagement to happen and unfold as desired.
What is the political economy in a country that will foster or obstruct a possible engagement from happening? What is needed to build political will on the part of SAIs to explore this collaboration? Most importantly, “How are the spaces to be created for SAIs and citizens to interact?
Methodology developed by World Bank’s program on Advancing Public Participation in the Budget Audit Process (PPBA) - Public participation in the audit process program: A practical approach to mobilizing actors and facilitating change
Building on the well-tested Action Learning approach, the World Bank’s program “Advancing Public Participation in the Budget & Audit Process” has developed a participatory methodology to galvanize and inspire SAIs and CSOs to engage effectively and co-create solutions to enhance public oversight. The program’s aims are as follows:
- Facilitate a “safe space” for raising awareness and promoting exchange of knowledge and experiences to build the political will of SAIs and CSOs to work together to design and implement concrete actions toward increasing the effectiveness of value for money (VFM) audits in participating countries
- Facilitate the linkage between citizen oversight work (using social accountability tools and approaches) with horizontal accountability organizations, such as SAIs, for greater effectiveness and enhanced results
- Promote and facilitate the creation of multi-stakeholder groups (coalition-building) to work together to identify problems (systemic governance challenges) and strategize solutions (actions must be taken to enhance the value for money from the government’s budgetary spending)
- Strengthen the national capacities of SAIs and CSOs to implement tools and mechanics for collaboration
- Foster regional dialogues to bring about consensus on the importance of SAI–CSO engagement by disseminating the results achieved by participating countries implementing collaborative mechanisms; regional dialogues are also aimed at inspiring other countries in the region to explore opportunities for implementing similar actions or strategies
The program is structured around inter-linked phases that combine brief diagnostic analysis, knowledge exchange, as well as capacity building and tailor-made technical support toward achieving its objectives. A practical picture of the program phases follows:
|1) Regional dialogues/e-learning series||
|2)Round tables (face to face)— Convene country-specific multi-stakeholder groups||
|1) Capacity-building workshops/ Action Learning||
|1) Joint Implementation of Action Plan||
|1) Developing learning briefs to codify process/knowledge||
Advancing Public Participation in the Audit Process
Regional Virtual Learning Series
In many countries, Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) have started to deepen their citizen engagement practices to increase the effectiveness of public oversight on the external audit system. Yet there is very little information on the tools and mechanisms, and more importantly, on the impacts that these collaborations bring to the audit processes.
The World Bank’s program on “Public Participation in the Budget & Audit” (PPBA) has been supporting regional dialogues and in-country work for an effective SAIs and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) engagement with promising results in South Asia and countries such as Nepal and Tanzania. The different stages of the audit cycle have been used to select feasible entry-points and mechanisms for a constructive engagement as shown below:
The learning series will focus on raising awareness of SAIs in the region (Auditor General Offices) and other stakeholders on: 1) the benefits of involving various non-state actors in a participatory manner along the audit cycle, 2) the challenges and opportunities for this participatory processes to be implemented within the current country contexts, 3) good practices from around the world; while providing a virtual platform for dialogue and multi-stakeholder engagement. Peer to peer discussions as well as South-South Knowledge Exchange (KE) will be featured through the presentation of national experiences as well as international good practices.
The virtual learning series will consist of three interlinked, multi-country, monthly videoconference sessions (3 hours each). Each of the sessions will address a major aspect of citizen engagement of audit process. Please refer to the following graphics for details.
“Listening to each other: What isthe value of public participation in the audit process?”
Public Participation in the Audit Process: The Planning Stage
The Path for Citizen Engagement: Participatory Audits
The videoconference format will involve expert presentations on the conceptual and technical aspects of citizen engagement in the audit process, as well as good practices and lessons learned from participatory audits around the world; and participants’ discussion of local challenges and opportunities. Speakers will include international experts from both Supreme Audit Institutions and civil society organization, sharing their experiences on various aspects of citizen engagement in the audit processes.
Advancing Public Participation in the Audit Process in Tanzania (May 16, 2013)
In line with the growing interest of citizen engagement that has surfaced in the SAI international community, the National Audit Office of Tanzania (NAOT) decided to embark on a collaborative agenda with demand-side actors.
In May 2013, a multi-stakeholder roundtable was organized, with the support of the World Bank Institute (WBI), Africa Public Sector and Governance Unit (AFTP5), and World Bank Country Office in Tanzania. The roundtable discussion was a key milestone to facilitating an initial constructive dialogue between the NAOT and CSOs, think tanks, and media and led to the following outcomes:
- Partnership Building: A working relationship was established between members from the NAOT office, parliamentarians, CSOs, and media representatives interested in working on participatory audit.
- Capacity development: Participants enhanced their knowledge and awareness of the entry points for citizen engagement in the audit process, based on successful citizen engagement models in the audit process from the Philippines, Argentina, and India. Participants also learned about tools for conducting performance audit such as citizen report cards.
- Finding Local Solution: Local challenges in designing and implementing various citizen engagement models in Tanzania were identified.
- Action Plan: A working draft of a comprehensive plan was developed by the multi-stakeholder working group to implement various participatory audit approaches and mechanisms in Tanzania.
Advancing Public Participation in the Audit Process in Nepal (October 6–7, 2013)
Organized by the OAG of Nepal, in collaboration with the World Bank Nepal Country Office, PRAN, and WBI’s PPBA team, the workshop’s major objective was to facilitate engagement between OAG (supply side) and civil society (demand side) toward exploring challenges and opportunities for implementing various participatory audit mechanisms in Nepal. The workshop brought together more than 60 participants from civil society organizations, the media, the staff from OAG, the World Bank, and international experts from India and South Africa. Dr. Prithvi Raj Ligal, PFM expert and former National Planning Commission Vice Chairman, presented the current auditing scenario in Nepal:
- Growing unpredictability of PFM systems and increasing volume of arrears in the audit report.
- Limited coverage— Sizable part of public expenditure still missing from OAG audit domain; OAG is not mandated to audit expenditures of village development committees (VDCs), municipalities, and schools
- Auditing process being looked more as a technical subject; demystifying the process not attempted
- Local expenditure agencies such as district development committees (DDCs), VDCs, and municipalities more skeptical in sharing information and in involving CSOs in the audit process. Audit reports of DDCs, VDCs, and municipalities are never discussed at the local level—with CSOs and common people
(Practical, technical, and political)
(linked to different entry points to advance public participation in the audit process)
(who are we going to engage)
|Timeline||Name of member/ Responsibilities||Next Steps|
|Implementation of audit process (joint audit)|
|Raising public awareness/ Dissemination of audit report|
|Following on recommendations taken by audit report|
|(Areas where the SAI will need additional support)|
Ad Hoc Working Group on Advancing Public Participation in the Audit Process
Terms of Reference (SAMPLE)
Role of the Working Group
The goal of the Working Group is to facilitate the development of space for constructive dialogue between SAI, CSOs, and media in order to improve the quality, transparency, relevance, accessibility, and hence impact of the audit process. In order to achieve this goal, the Working Group would undertake the following activities:
- Explore practical ways of improving knowledge and understanding of both SAI and demand side actors (CSOs and media) about their contributions to the audit process.
- Identify training needs of key stakeholders in SAI, CSOs, media, and Parliament to enable them to contribute effectively to an open and transparent audit process. Organize capacity building programs based on the needs identified through this process.
- Identify potential organizations to be part of a roster list of CSOs with the capacity to support participatory audit processes.
- Develop consensus on the roles and responsibilities of CSOs and SAI in a collaboration that makes the audit process more accessible to citizens.
- Create pathways to incorporate the use of relevant social accountability tools such as social audits and citizen report cards into performance auditing
- Prepare and enact an MOU and operational guidelines that formalize the relationship between SAI, CSOs, and media partners to strengthen public participation in the audit process.
Working Group: Structure, Governance and Decision Making
Composition. The Working Group will comprise about 15 members, two-thirds of which will be drawn from civil society organizations of various types (think tanks/research institutions/ front-line service delivery focuses CSOs, sector networks, local and national CSOs) and media. One-third will be government representatives, at least half of whom would be from SAI, and the remainder other relevant and interested stakeholders. Donors may participate as non-decision making members, as well as when specifically invited by the Working Group to offer donor perspectives on specific topics.
Leadership. The Working Group will be co-chaired by a representative of SAI and a CSO representative selected by the other CSO members of the Working Group. Initially the SAI will convene meetings of the Working Group, and this arrangement will need to be revisited to decide whether it should be made permanent or the responsibility reassigned (or rotated). The Working Group will also appoint a Secretary who will be responsible for preparing and tabling the minutes of meetings, and following up with members on the status of key actions for which they have been made responsible.
Decision-making. Formal decisions of the Working Group will be subject to a quorum of two-thirds present at the meeting, and agreement of a simple majority of those present at the meeting. The minutes of the previous meeting will be tabled and formally adopted in the next meeting.
- Provide input into the design of the planned capacity building workshop, including key thematic areas on audit that would be of interest to civil society groups, media, and SAI.
- Discuss and agree on the structure and operational rules of the Working Group.
- Design and roll-out a strategy to build CSOs and media capacity to monitor the implementation of audit recommendations.
- Develop and implement an MOU between SAI, CSOs and media partners which clearly articulates on how they can collaborate in priority areas including:
- Awareness Raising on Audit & Oversight;
- Providing Feedback to External Audit Process;
- Joint Monitoring of Govt. programs; and
- Joint Capacity Building
Medium to Long-term
- Develop and implement a joint capacity building strategy for CSOs and SAI
- Strengthen CSO capacity to understand the audit process and core audit principles
- Enhance capacity of SAI to undertake participatory audits that engage a wide range of national stakeholders
- Increase capacity of media and CSOs to use audit findings to highlight strengthens and weaknesses in priority service delivery sectors
- Develop a strategy for effective engagement with relevant stakeholders and parliamentary bodies responsible for budget preparation, execution, and oversight.
- Develop a communication strategy for effective public dissemination of audit report (consolidated and individual audit reports).
- Jointly develop format for simplified/citizen friendly reporting of audit findings.
- Improved knowledge and understanding of both government and non-government stakeholders about their potential contributions to enhancing the audit process.
- Multi-stakeholder consensus on the roles and responsibilities of CSOs and SAI in opening up the audit process to citizens.
- Strengthened knowledge of audit principles and tools by CSOs and media.
- Enhanced capacity of SAI to undertake participatory audits in collaboration with citizen groups.
- Institutionalized multi-stakeholder collaboration around public awareness raising and dissemination of audit reports and participatory audits.
- CSOs establish a formalized process to leverage audit findings to advocate for improved service delivery outcomes
- Enhanced engagement with relevant stakeholders and parliamentary bodies responsible for budget preparation, execution, and oversight.
- Increased CSOs and general public awareness of the importance and potential uses of audit reports for public policy action and to influence budget execution.
- Institutionalized and dynamic framework for joint capacity building for stakeholders.
- Government enacts corrective measures, as needed, for more efficient and transparent use of public funds, taking into account the recommendations of the SAI and CSOs.
Regional Dialogue/e-Learning Series
The regional dialogues (delivered in the form of “e-learning series” involving five to eight countries) are used to serve as a conduit for creating interest in reforms and deepening existing political will. Regional dialogues incorporate unique features that are designed to do the following:
- Provide a facilitated space for discussion and establish multi-stakeholder buy-in to explore possible SAI–CSO engagement.
- Facilitate South–South knowledge exchange.
- Raise awareness about the topic and possible entry points for collaboration through peer-to-peer learning.
- Identify country-specific champions to support the development of this agenda at the national and regional levels.
By working at both levels (regional and country-specific), participating countries can share and learn about good-practice examples from around the globe. The methodology also gives them a space to self-identify local problems and plausible solutions to address their own needs.
A number of interlinked virtual sessions followed by in-country meetings allow stakeholders to participate via videoconference from their home countries while connecting with peers in the region and other experts from around the world.
The program content is always tailored to address specific challenges faced by participating countries in order to provide them with a foundation from which to advance or consolidate their own strategies and action plans in their own particular context. Please refer to Annex I to see how these sessions have been structured over the past year.
Round Tables (face to face)—Convene country specific multi-stakeholder groups
Similar to regional dialogues, country-specific “round tables” are used to bring together (in most cases, for the first time) SAIs with other stakeholders (CSOs, think tanks, and the media). The main goal of this event is to initiate a dialogue that might lead to the formation of a coalition or working group (WG) to engage in a problem-solving process whereby actors are expected to look together for contextually relevant opportunities for change. More specifically, round tables will serve to do the following:
- Identify development challenge (participatory diagnostic) and understand how government and SAIs can leverage CSOs to jointly generate value for money information
- Build trust among different stakeholders to work together
- Discuss how CSOs can effectively use the audit findings produced by SAIs’ in their work
- Identify entry points through which CSOs can collaborate with SAIs to generate and share missing data about the status of the government’s budget implementation
- Agree on next steps for joint actions
Round tables are structured around the presentation of good practice models from around the world that present models of successful participatory audit mechanisms (civil society, academic groups, community members, private sector) and its process of implementation.
The presentation of country (regional or international) experience is followed by an interactive panel discussion, in which the different stakeholders are invited to reflect on the challenges and opportunities for advancing public participation in audit processes in their own country. Normally, the discussion leads to an open and constructive debate through which each group of stakeholders learns about the specific work of the other. This is a process that brings together participants and helps them realize that they share a set of common goals. As a result, complementary activities and interest in exploring opportunities for collaboration start emerging.
A concrete outcome envisioned for these round tables is the formation of an ad hoc working group to explore specific issues, such as the objective and scope of SAI–CSO engagement and to devise steps to achieve those objectives and related activities.
Capacity-building Workshops/Action Learning
Another important step of the Public Participation in the Budget Audit (PPBA) program is to ensure that the national capacity of both SAIs and CSOs are strengthened for the planning and implementation of the tools and methods for SAI–Citizen engagement.
Specific action learning programs that combine conceptual framework with analytical rigor on aspects of the how-to of SAI–CSO engagement (such as tools, mechanism, and experiences) are designed and delivered in each of the participating countries.
The capacity-building workshops aim to do the following:
- a. Facilitate the engagement between SAI staff and other demand-side actors toward exploring challenges and opportunities for implementing various participatory audit mechanisms within a particular country context
- b. Provide an opportunity to learn about good practices for the ways demand-side stakeholders can participate in public audit, and discuss during case clinics how those international and regional experiences can be adapted to their own country context
- c. Discuss a possible work plan to roll out the implementation of various participatory audit approaches, as identified and agreed upon by the participants
The capacity-building program is designed after a brief assessment of the knowledge needs and capacity constraints of both actors, identified through bilateral meetings and consultations held in each country.
Whereas specific training sessions of the program focus on the role of SAIs in auditing government programs, the audit cycle, and other technical aspects of the work of the accountability institution (performance and financial audits), a number of sessions are dedicated to providing SAIs with an overview of the tools and methodologies used by CSOs (social audits, citizen report cards, and citizen audits) to monitor budget implementation and outcomes in service delivery.
The capacity-building workshops also devote a number of sessions to present methods and tools to facilitate a constructive collaboration between SAIs and CSOS. Concepts such as adaptive leadership and rapid results methodology are mainstreamed in the technical curriculum as key elements to support reforms processes.
Presentations by national, regional, and international experts are combined with case clinics, in which participants have to employ problem-based learning to consider what they already know and what they need to know about a particular approach. The case clinic seeks to draw on the experience of the resource people present in the workshop to contribute to the strategy and design approach to explore entry points in the targeted country. Please refer to Annex II to see how capacity-building workshops are structured.
Finally, as part of the capacity-building agenda, time is devoted to the discussion and drafting of an action plan, in which the knowledge acquired will be translated into concrete actions to be implemented by the multi-stakeholder group formed during the event. A simple, although very practical, matrix is used for guiding participants to organize ideas and actions. Please refer to Annex III to view the matrix used for drafting an action plan.
Joint Implementation of Action Plan
Once the capacity-building phase has been completed, the next phase of the program focuses on supporting the operationalization of the activities captured in the action plan.
Although the program recognizes that concrete implementation will rely on the effort of each group and the existing funding opportunity in each country during this phase, efforts generally concentrate on the following:
- Supporting the multi-stakeholder working group led by the SAI with representation of CSOs, Think Tanks, media, and, when possible, members of the parliament (heads of relevant PACs)
- Supporting the design of a framework for engagement by the working group to be presented and cleared for adoption by the head or governing body of the SAI; the framework of engagement in the form of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) or another formal document will set forth the scope and principles of the collaboration, thereby bringing the legitimacy to the initiative
- Providing technical support during the implementation phase of concrete actions to operationalize participatory approaches in practice
- Building the capacity of SAIs and CSOs in sector-specific program implementation, including carrying out joint field visits and joint report writing
With the support of subject-matter experts with technical knowledge and implementation know-how, the PPBA provides ad hoc technical assistance to the recently formed country multi-stakeholder groups using a variety of tools and instruments.
Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) to set the Working Group: The goal of the working group is to undertake technical and administrative coordination to develop the space for constructive engagement between SAIs and the civil society groups. As the effective implementation of the action plans will depend heavily on the capacity and motivation of the working group to operate, the first steps of this phase focus on helping the SAIs develop the terms of reference (TOR) for the team, in which its goals are explained in detail as well as its structure and other related aspects of its operationalization. For that purpose, the PPBA program developed a general template that is presented to the working group to be used as a starting point for discussion. Please refer to Annex IV to see a sample TOR model to structure a working group.
Peer-assist processes: With the working group in full operation and the TORs agreed on and adopted, the next step is to support the WG in drafting a feasible and realistic framework for engagement. The peer-assist methodology is used to bring about consensus among the WG about (a) the terms in which they are willing to engage, (b) the scope for collaboration, and (c) the amount of time and resources they will be able to commit in support of this process—always taking into consideration their overall legal mandates, limitations, and other factors that could have influence the engagement proposed.
The first step of the methodology proposed is the identification of a peer-assist expert (a person with the knowledge and practical experience about this issue to bring credibility to the exercise), who is invited to guide the work under the leadership of the SAI and with the WG. The expert will first conduct consultations that take place in the form of meetings with different key stakeholders, including key officials from the SAI (including auditors performing fieldwork who might not be enthusiastic with the engagement), CSO representatives, and other actors who were part of the working group. The consultation process will include the formulation of questions to understand the political economy in which the engagement will take place (political willingness, the SAI’s commitment at different levels, legal mandate, independence challenges). The expert will also assess the capacity limits both for the SAI and the CSOs to move the process forward.
Once the consultation is finalized, with the inputs obtained the expert prepares a preliminary draft outlining different entry points, purpose, and methods of engagement (that is, engagement at the level of audit planning, audit implementation, or dissemination of reports) that is presented to the multi-stakeholder WG, which will finalize the framework of engagement for submission to the Auditor General of the governing body (tribunal) of the SAI.Once the framework has been endorsed by the highest authority of the SAI, the implementation process of the engagement will start. In many cases, the work ahead will be new for the SAI as well as for the CSOs involved, and the actors will face technical challenges, including how to implement some of the proposed actions. Although the level of involvement of the PPBA team and the type of support to be provided will vary from one country to another, the following are some examples of work performed:
Audit Planning: Support the SAI and the WG in designing and implementing a step-by-step methodology—create a database, produce information for sharing and dissemination, including simplified audit reports, map and invite stakeholders to participate in the consultation meeting, set up a system for proposal submission and analysis, and develop and implement a feedback mechanism for citizens and follow-up mechanisms when proposals are accepted.
Participatory Audit: Support the SAI and the WG in designing and implementing a process for involving CSOs or citizens in the audit process who can monitor specific aspects in the implementation of government programs by facilitating the incorporation of relevant data coming directly from project beneficiaries (for example, identify subjects of audits, provide capacity building to CSOs involved in the audit process and to SAI officials on the specific SA tools to be deployed, support data gathering through focus groups or surveys, and write and disseminate reports).
Sector-Specific Pilots for Joint Audits: Once possible methods for SAI–citizen engagement are in place, the PPBA program will provide support to the national accountability institutions and CSOs in organizing thematic consultation meetings. Citizen groups can provide evidence of mismanagement or inefficiencies to SAIs so that they can incorporate the input while preparing their audit plan.
The PPBA team also supports the SAI in designing and implementing a step-by step-methodology—create a database of community organizations that are working in these specific sectors; produce information for sharing and dissemination, including simplified sector specific and district-wide audit reports; map and invite CSOs and think tanks to participate in the consultation meeting; set up a system for proposal submission and analysis; and develop and implement a feedback mechanism for citizens and follow-up mechanisms when proposals are accepted.
The technical support just described is complemented with capacity-building workshops to train CSOs (a) how to use citizen-friendly tools and methods to track the process, administrative structure, and fund flow system for social and sectoral programs (such as health and education); and (b) how to communicate their findings effectively.
Finally, as previously mentioned, although technical support is key to advance the engagement process, nontechnical mechanisms focusing on ensuring a constructive and effective engagement between the different actors are also key to success. In this regard, the PPBA program works with RRA and adaptive leadership experts to complement the technical support provided.
Developing learning briefs to codify the process and knowledge
Knowledge about citizen engagement in the audit process is curated to better support SAIs and CSOs that are looking for new approaches to foster citizen engagement and collaboration mechanisms, as demonstrated in the PPBA e-guide. These products are aimed at responding to the high demand emerging from different countries around the world. The objective of this particular stage of the program is to capture, manage, and disseminate knowledge by (a) generating country-specific case studies and (b) supporting the drafting of standards and guiding principles of citizen engagement in the budget and audit processes to be discussed and adopted in global and national scenarios.
The PPBA also focuses on capturing knowledge to learn more about the different paths that can be used to foster citizen engagement and the most effective methodologies for building multi-stakeholder coalitions in different contexts. To do this, knowledge is systematically collected at every stage of the process. This is done by producing newsletters describing the sessions, program briefs providing an institutional context in which an initiative unfolds, and checklists documenting every step along the way. This type of
evidence-based knowledgehelps us better support and replicate ongoing and future initiatives. Most important, knowledge and learning products are critical to answer the following questions: How can we help these projects succeed? How can successful experiences be reproduced elsewhere?
Moreover, value-added narratives are produced to capture the specific strategies and actions that took place behind a successful initiative aiming to advance public participation in the audit process. Case studies are developed on a constant basis to track and learn from SAIs’ and CSOs’ learning experience as they experiment with new and innovative approaches for citizen engagement. These learning products are then disseminated to wider audiences that are interested in moving this agenda forward.