Social Accountability_Jeff Thindwa_10.16.13


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  • At the core of social accountability is the agency of non-state actors: citizens, civil society organizations, media and other forms. It can be initiated by non-state actors, or even by government. But even when initiated by government, for example Porto Alegre participatorybudgeting grand experiment, for their to be ‘social accountability’, there has to be citizen engagement.While it has some way to go to prove its efficacy on government accountability and performance, social accountability makes both good business (what can guarantee success more than ‘customer’ monitoring and feedback?), and good politics (the promise of public participation for accountability has an appeal to votersl?)WBG: SA is about affirming and operationalizing direct accountability relationships between citizens and the state. A broad range of actions beyond voting that citizens can use to hold the state to account, as well as actions on the part of government, civil society, media and other societal actors that promote or facilitate these efforts. Traditionally, SA included actions such as: Public demonstrations; Protests; Advocacy campaigns; Investigative journalism; Public interest lawsuits
  • Traditionally citizens have relied on putting pressure on policy makers and politicians to get services delivered or improve services. They did this through advocacy initiatives. It was the long route because it relied on policy makers then putting pressure on service providers, to enforce the ‘compact’ between them. Social accountability is about ‘client power’; direct pressure by citizens on the providers of services. Yet, today, another type of action is taking place: opening up of public procurement, so that contracts are transparent, and the procurement of public services is scrutinized by citizens. The state needs to create an enabling environment; it also needs capacity to respond, and address grievances brought by the citizens. Social accounability requires strong effort to support government’s business processes for responding.Citizen participation is facilitated by intermediary mechanisms, formal CSOs, or informal groups, who should both help to improve citizens capacity to engage, and also to channel their voices. When called for, CSOs also represent citizens.
  • But social accountability depends on two interlocking features: Transparency, and Participation. TRANSPARENCY requires supply side actions to open up government to citizens – government data, e.g. budget, and processes, e.g. public procurement. WBI’s BOOST helps to demystify and visualize government expenditure data, making it accessible to users. Transparency also requires government enacting right to information legislation, which provides for procedures which citizens can follow, and recourse when public officials are not cooperating. It also requires public disclosure mechanisms that are mandated by law e.g. asset disclosure and conflict of interest.PARTICIPATION gives stakeholders influence government processes. Participation is more than receiving information; it is more than dialogue; it gives great say in the conduct of public affairs, and a measure of control over such things as setting of priorities, making of policies, or creation and implementation of budgets. Participation is good for ownership, and therefore for sustainability…Even more, it can create supportive constituencies for government reforms, which require public support.These two, TRANSPARENCY and PARTICIPATION work together to produce accountability of government to citizens. But ultimately the goal of accountability is a government which is performing well. And CSOs and other non-state stakeholders can be a very important part of that performance. They can contribute to the diagnosis of problems and challenges, and jointly, with government, work for solutions: be it to problems with delivery bottlenecks and services not reaching the poor; girls discrimination in education; or implementation of conditional cash transfer or subsidy programs,. COLLABORATION or, what one might call, ‘collaborative governance’ is an important part of how we should think about good, effective governance. Increasingly this collaboration is taking the form of COALITIONS comprising reform minded public officials, media, citizens, parliamentarians.
  • Social Accountability_Jeff Thindwa_10.16.13

    1. 1. Understanding Social Accountability “an approach towards building accountability that relies on civic engagement” ** Operationalizes direct accountability relationships between citizens and the state.
    2. 2. Improve enabling environment for citizen engagement in governance and public decision-making State Politicians / Policymakers Independent Accountability Agencies Increase capacity of state to respond to public needs and effective oversight and redress Opening contracts and citizen monitoring of procurement Citizens/Clients Formal and Informal Social Intermediaries Improve capability of citizens to engage in governance Client Power Providers/Agencies Enhance capacity of social intermediaries to provide effective participation and oversight (to inform, monitor, and improve service provision) Willingness & Capacity to Demand (political, socio-cultural, legal, and economic factors) Willingness & Capacity to Respond and Account (political, socio-cultural, legal, and economic factors) Focus on citizen engagement in accountability relationships 2
    3. 3. Organizing Framework for SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY Transparency Participation Collaboration Openness, accessibility of government at all levels. Stakeholder influence and control. Ensures ownership, sustainability, risk mitigation, public support of reforms mechanisms for answerability and collaborative action Demystifying and visualizing budget data; Disclosure mechanisms; Access to Information; stakeholder capacity building for users Support for nonexecutive participation and monitoring - Parliaments - Media - CSOs ACCOUNTABILITY Joint solutions Multi-stakeholder coalitions Collaborative leadership teams ANSA Arab world
    4. 4. Conditions for Social Accountability Legal Framework Bridging mechanisms • Negotiation: Effective •Transparency and Disclosure: pro-actively disclose and disseminate information to citizens / Maximize citizen access to publicly held information (ATI laws) Information Government Civil Society engagement to create avenues for negotiating and for channeling citizen feedback to government (dialogues and consultations on procurement reform along with mechanisms for resolving disagreements). Political conditions Technology • Monitor: monitoring and oversight of the public sector through mixed methods (social audits; procurement monitoring, independent budget and policy analysis • Information from this will inform stakeholder demand – and the cycle continues. • Response: Actions Government Society Voice Strengthened Capacity of Government and Civil Society for SA to respond specifically to expressed demand (procurement monitoring reports); incentives to public officials linked to how they respond.
    5. 5. Why this is Important • Transformations in the social contract • Potential for citizen-led, evidencedriven reforms and pro-poor expenditure • Alternative sources of analysis and data, e.g. from service delivery • Opportunity presented by information technology • Emerging global consensus
    6. 6. Our Session’s End Game! 1. Understand the importance of social accountability as an essential element of advancing international health and development 2. Be familiar with three approaches currently used to improve social accountability 3. Articulate at least one means of evaluating social accountability
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