Indicators to assess participatory mechanisms for CSOs

Importance: Very high

Partaking in a citizen participation or social accountability practice created by an SAI should imply, as an effect and main advantage for the CSO, the chance to have an effect on the way in which public control is implemented, whether in general terms or in a specific area or topic.

Evaluating the value of CSO involvement within a participatory mechanism implies identifying in which way that participation results in positive results on the policies or public control actions that an SAI carries out. That means, among other things, that suitable channels have been created to manifest opinions, information, and interests of the CSO; said input is valued and adequately channelled; and the CSO remains informed about the results of their contributions.

  • Has the involvement of the CSO in the citizen participation mechanism implemented by the SAI resulted in an increase in its effect on policies or actions of public control? In what way?
  • Have suitable channels been generated to manifest opinions, information, and CSO interests facing the SAI?
  • Is said input effectively valued and adequately channelled?
  • Does the SAI keep the CSO informed about the results of its contributions?

Importance: Very High

SAIs possess highly relevant and detailed information regarding the functioning of state administration and the execution of public policy. As a result of any partnership between the SAI and CSOs, CSOs can access important information that is otherwise not available in the public domain.

As a result, a relevant variable to evaluate the effectiveness of participation by CSOs is their access to relevant information pertaining to government’s administration, which can in turn enrich and strengthen the CSO actions in other areas.

  • Has the organization’s participation in said mechanism resulted in valuable information generated about public governance?
  • Has a relatively stable channel of communication been established to access such information?
  • Is the information obtained critical to enrich and strengthen the actions of the organization?

Importance: High

Even though citizen participation in audits involves direct contact with public control agencies, such participation in SAI administration can also indirectly result in improvements to the effect CSOs have over the entities they oversee—that is, the rest of the public administration.

Analysing the effect implies evaluating in what way the organization’s involvement in a citizen participation mechanism implemented by an SAI has helped to create opportunities to influence certain public policies or the way in which public services are delivered. Promoting public control in specific programs, as well as gathering valuable information on relevant aspects of public governance, can achieve that purpose.

  • Has the involvement of a CSO in the citizen participation mechanism implemented by the SAI resulted in an improvement on the influence over other policies or programs of public administration in general? In what way?

Importance: Medium

One of the other desirable effects of CSO involvement in citizen participation instances is related to the possibility to create staff awareness and training regarding topics of public control and its institutional and democratic relevance. As members of the CSO incorporate knowledge about SAIs’ role, mission, responsibilities, and actions, they learn to value the importance of state auditing and are empowered by the engagement. That empowerment becomes especially valuable in those CSOs that do not have public control and audit operations as their mission or main activities, but rather take advantage of public control to strengthen their effectiveness in other areas of public administration.

As a result, evaluating a citizen participation or social accountability mechanism implemented by an SAI implies identifying in what way the participation of a CSO resulted in increased internal awareness and knowledge regarding public control and the functioning of state agencies that accomplish said roles.

  • Does the involvement of the CSO in the citizen participation practice implemented by the SAI result in increased staff awareness regarding the importance of public control and the incorporation of new knowledge concerning the functioning of audit mechanisms?
  • Was the influence substantial, and do CSOs make a difference within the organization?
  • Did the influence directly or indirectly reach a significant part of the organization?

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Hevia, F. & Vergara-Lope Samana (2011): “How to measure participation”, CIESAS – INDESOL. “Practical Guide For Evaluating Participatory Processes”; Marc Pares, Leonardo Díaz (IGOP/UAB) & Melissa Pomeroy (OIDP/OLDP)

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