Strengthening Audit Accountability

Unleashing the Potential of Public Audits

Nearly every country in the world has a functioning supreme audit institution (SAI) that is mandated to check the legality and accuracy of public accounts and to report their findings to drive improvements. SAIs have one of the toughest jobs in government: ensuring that powerful politicians, officials and institutions are held accountable. Recent case studies commissioned by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) in Argentina, India and the Philippines demonstrate how SAIs can positively impact public finance accountability and the lives of citizens.

Yet, while essential for accountable governance, SAIs face serious limitations in many countries. As the Open Budget Survey shows, audit reports are withheld from the public, hearings on audit findings take place behind closed doors and findings are not acted upon.

If more governments could be convinced and incentivized to address the findings contained in existing audit reports, strengthening their accountability systems, then they would be more likely to take the necessary steps to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of national expenditures.

The Audit Accountability Initiative

JLwarehouse / Shutterstock.com

We are exploring how strategic engagement between key oversight actors from within and outside government can prompt action on public audit findings that are currently being ignored. The initiative operates at the country and international level, providing technical and strategic support for collective action on audits of public concern.

Engaging current and former Auditors General and leaders of watchdog groups, the initiative focuses on countries where there are already interactions between SAIs and civil society on audit issues and a conducive environment, good quality SAI audit reports and civil society organizations that have a track record or capacity to promote accountability surrounding the use of public resources in their countries.

This work will help us to better understand what types of new and strengthened relationships can be developed among accountability actors, what strategies most effectively spur remedial action by governments, and how these strategies can be replicated by audit institutions and civil society in other countries seeking to enhance audit impact.

For more information, please contact Claire Schouten at [email protected].

The Issues

The Asociacion Civil Por la lgualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ) engages with a coalition of civil society organizations to advocate for implementation of SAI recommendations to better prevent, diagnose and treat Chagas disease, which affects 1.5 million people, especially those with modest means.

SEND Ghana is advocating for government action in response to audit reports identifying accountability and coordination challenges in the national program that feeds school children. They are also working with the Peasant Farmers Association to advocate for an audit of procurement practices in the fertilizer-subsidy program.

Freedom Forum is collaborating with the country’s SAI to improve the management and accountability in local development projects, including road, water and sanitation works.

The Budget Advocacy Network is working with the SAI to address inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools. Such problems increase the risk of disease and reduce the likelihood that children—especially girls—will attend school.

A coalition of civil society organizations led by the Wajibu Institute collaborates with the country’s SAI to push for rehabilitation of dilapidated school infrastructure that has left 4 million children without adequate classrooms.

Resources