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Access to public information and citizen participation in Supreme Audit Institutions (SAI) guide to good practices

Ezequiel Nino
Publication year: 
Source of the information: 
World Bank
Consensus is growing within the global community on the relevance of Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs), their transparency and the need to be open to citizen participation. External oversight agencies perform a fundamental role in monitoring the exercise of power in democratic regimes, especially in countries characterised by high corruption rates and inefficiency in public management. Their reports do not receive the public recognition they deserve and the oversight agencies themselves are not usually perceived by civil society as places for participation. This document presents a series of good practices designed to strengthen external audit systems and highlights the importance of access to public information. The experiences compiled in the document come from various countries, especially Latin America.
The document shows that good practices can be generated from the audit institutions towards society (top-down) as well as from society towards these agencies (bottom-up). It discusses SAI models and the necessary relationship between SAIs and civil service organisations.

The paper makes the following observations:
  • The practices and experiences regarding access to information and citizen participation reflect progress towards strengthening the control system, which is indispensable for inclusive governance.
  • The survey indicates that states have not taken concrete steps because political powers have no incentive to produce comprehensive reforms.
  • Measures toward openness and transparency are usually only taken when serious effects emerge as a result of poor practices which lead to publicoutcry for change.
  • The international community, through the International Organization of Supreme 
  • Audit Institutions, INTOSAI, and other organisations, should play a role in promoting changes.
  • A strong international movement is a critical resource that can help citizens to promote positive changes in local contexts that lack adequate incentives.
The document states that it is still too early to identify successful practices, since they began a short time ago and are currently being implemented. It calls for further assessment through research and analysis of the following areas:
  • Evaluating the impact of practices and collaboration mechanisms between SAIs and CSOs
  • Analysing the relationship between transparency and participation in the external audit system
  • Examining whether any of the external audit models is more effective in creating channels for access to public information and civil society participation In regards to SAIs
  • Examining the impact of access to public information laws on the opening of the SAIs in practice
  • Investigating the conditions that facilitate transparency and social participation in SAIs.