Initiatives

Audit Accountability

In nearly every country, there is a functioning supreme audit institution empowered to check the public accounts, yet audit reports are often withheld from the public, hearings on audit findings take place behind closed doors, and findings are not acted upon. The result: all stakeholders miss out on opportunities to make public budgets work for people.

About Audit Accountability

A strong audit institution is key to an accountable budget. Supreme audit institutions (SAIs) have one of the toughest jobs in government: ensuring that powerful politicians, officials and institutions are held accountable. It’s also one of the most important jobs, as it improves the lives of people by ensuring governments deliver on their promises.

IBP engages with current and former auditors general and leaders of watchdog groups to prompt action on public audit findings that are being ignored.

We document and share best practices on how national audit offices can collaborate with civil society to ensure audit findings have follow-through so that public money reaches those who need it most.

We developed the Audit Accountability Initiative to bring SAIs and civil society organizations together to strengthen government responsiveness to audit recommendations through more effective communication and engagement. In Argentina, Ghana, Nepal, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, SAIs and civil society have coordinated efforts to ensure governments act upon the findings and recommendations contained in audit reports.

We began this initiative after data from our Open Budget Survey revealed a paralysis in oversight systems that often prevents SAIs from achieving their overarching goals of protecting the public interest by improving the management of public funds. The participating countries were selected several years ago based on the presence of well-functioning and independent SAIs and civil society organizations with the expertise to engage on issues raised in the audits.

Across the five countries, SAIs and civil society organizations selected a set of critical issues that were flagged in official audit reports where government action was lagging:

  • In Argentina, this focused on underperforming government programs to prevent, diagnose and treat 1.5 million people affected by Chagas, a tropical parasitic disease.
  • In Ghana, they addressed accountability and coordination challenges in the national school feeding program serving 2.6 million pupils.
  • In Nepal, they partnered to strengthen the management of local development funds that support infrastructure projects, such as road, water supply and sewerage works.
  • In Sierra Leone, they coordinated their efforts to ensure proper water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools across the country.
  • In Tanzania, they pushed for the rehabilitation of dilapidated school infrastructure that has left 4 million children without proper classrooms.

In 2020, we published the first comprehensive look at the strength of audit and oversight systems globally. It came at a time when SAIs were under enormous pressure to ensure governments were effective stewards of COVID-19 emergency spending in ways that advance the public interest and protect hard-won social development progress.

Building on our joint research and advocacy, we collaborate with the INTOSAI Development Initiative to document and share what we’ve learned about how national auditors can expand stakeholder engagement and, in doing so, bolster the impact of audits.

Key Takeaways

14%

of aggregate national budgets goes unspent in low income countries

30%

of immunization budgets went unspent in a survey of 22 countries.

1/2

of the budget allocations for gender ministries and programs was not spent in Ghana, Nigeria, and Zambia between 2018 and 2020

8

Only eight countries worldwide have formal channels to engage underserved communities in budget processes.

Where We Work in this Area

Janet Atimoliga, a rice farmer, poses on her farm as she is assisted by women from her local farmer group, Korania Wedamdaga Women's Cooperative, to transplant and apply fertilizer to rice seedlings. Navrongo, Upper East-Ghana. Photo by Francis Kokoroko for International Budget Partnership © 2022.

Ghana

In Ghana, we fostered powerful coalitions from 2018-2022 to support a nationwide peasant farmers association and communities affected by mining to demand accountable delivery of services.
TAKE ACTION

Demand Accountability

Join us and our many international and national partners to urge governments to:
  1. Establish meaningful, inclusive spaces to engage the public in budget processes.
  2. Curtail executive overreach and empower legislators and auditors’ oversight roles.
  3. Disclose more and better budget information.
  4. Sustain progress by institutionalizing accountability reforms.

Add your voice
Related Stories
Featured resources
Members of the users committee of Andhikhola rural municipality engaging in the construction of trail road in Gandaki Province (Photo Credit: Shiva Regmi, Gandaki Province Rural Municipalities Association) / Shiva Regmi
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Brief: Enhancing Accountability through Audits: Emerging Lessons from Collaborations Between Supreme Audit Institutions and Civil Society Organizations

Dec 17, 2022
Members of the users committee of Andhikhola rural municipality engaging in the construction of trail road in Gandaki Province (Photo Credit: Shiva Regmi, Gandaki Province Rural Municipalities Association) / Shiva Regmi
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Journal: Enhancing Accountability through Audits: Lessons from Collaborations Between Supreme Audit Institutions and Civil Society Organizations

Oct 28, 2022
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Citizens, Civil Society and Auditors: COVID-19 requires an “ecosystem” approach to accountability

Sep 15, 2020
Brendan Halloran
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Finally, the time is ripe for SAI-civil society collaboration

Jul 22, 2020
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Strengthening Budget Credibility: The Pocket Guide for Auditors

Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) have an important role to play in strengthening the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and ensuring that a country’s budget is on track. Checking and reporting on the legality and accuracy of public accounts, as well as the credibility of budgets, can be instrumental in governments delivering on their sustainable […]
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All hands on deck: Harnessing accountability through external public audits

This report is the first ever comprehensive look at the strength of audit and oversight systems globally and comes at a time when supreme audit institutions (SAIs) are under enormous pressure to ensure governments are effective stewards of COVID-19 emergency spending in ways that advance the public interest and protect development progress. Download the report […]
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The Rise of the Activist Auditor

Read this post in: Spanish | French | Bahasa | Arabic This post is from “That’s How the Light Gets In”: Making Change in Closing Political Environments – a collection of essays that examine evidence of how to pursue fiscal accountability in a tougher political environment. The collection is a companion to IBP’s 2016 Annual Report. Read more […]
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Philippines’ Commission on Audit Key to Unearthing “Pork Barrel” Scandal

The “pork barrel system” of lump sum grants to members of the Philippines Congress to fund a list of community-based or small-scale infrastructure projects was revived during President Corazon Aquino’s administration and operated under a series of programs, most recently through the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Two unrelated investigations in 2012, ­one by the […]
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Accountability for Safe Train Service in Argentina

This case study details the findings and examines the impact of the Argentina General Audit Office’s (AGN) March 2012 report pointing out irregularities concerning maintenance and procurement issues related to train services provided by the private company Trains of Buenos Aires (TBA). The audit report was issued just days after a fatal train accident in which a train […]
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Is India’s Ministry of Coal Effective in Supporting Coal Production?

Coal is a nationalized industry in India, and Coal India Limited (CIL) is the state-owned company responsible for coal production. Prior to 1991, the government set the prices that companies producing steel, cement, and power would pay for coal. Economic reforms replaced this system with one that allocates coal blocks to individual public-sector entities and […]

Unleashing the Potential of Public Audits: The Impact of Audits in Argentina, India and the Philippines

Almost every country in the world has a supreme audit institution (SAI) tasked with monitoring the utilization of the country’s resources. SAIs assess the proper use of public funds by conducting financial audits that examine the legality of financial transactions and performance audits that assess whether public funds have been used efficiently and effectively. Audit […]
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Accountants With Opinions: How Can Government Audits Drive Accountability?

Read this post in: Spanish | French | Bahasa | Arabic The International Budget Partnership (IBP) recently convened a group of leading experts and practitioners from the field of government auditing to discuss how to make audits more impactful. The event brought together luminaries of the auditing world, including the heads and former heads of the […]
Related Insights
ACIJ and allies meet to review Chagas programs during Budget Week 2019, when civil society, journalists and policy makers discuss the government’s budget proposal. Photo by ACIJ.

Argentinian auditors unite with civil society to fight a rampant disease

May 11, 2020
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Accountants With Opinions: How Can Government Audits Drive Accountability?

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Shackled Auditors, Toothless Legislatures: Why Government Oversight is Unable to Deliver Budget Accountability

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Latest Event
IBP partner and community advocate Astou Mbengue and a member of the National Sanitation Office of Senegal (ONAS) coordinate a joint government and community site visit to various locations having water and sanitation issues.

Advancing budget credibility through external audits

April 11, 2024
8:30 am – 10:00 am