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


of aggregate national budgets goes unspent in low income countries


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


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


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

Where We Work in this Area


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

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