A practical guide to social audit as a participatory tool to strengthen democratic governance, transparency and accountability
This Practical Guide analyses social auditing experiences around the world and extracts important lessons that intend to provide practical guidance to United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and other United Nations agencies officers, advisers, and partners, as well as development practitioners, donors and governments. It examines the required elements for the design and implementation of social audits, explains the enabling environment that make these exercises successful, and offers practical insights based on practices and experiences.
Democracies around the world, particularly those that are in the process of consolidation, face enormous challenges not only in the economic and social realms, but also in the democratic governance sphere. Although leaders in these countries, in different levels of government (national and sub-national) are now elected through relatively fair and transparent processes, once in power they often face critical challenges to adequately represent their constituencies and respond to their needs and demands. This often increases disappointment, cynicism and apathy on the part of the citizens, and can adversely affect the quality and effectiveness of democratic governance and create opportunities for corrupt practices and waste. In large part, this democratic governance deficit results not only from a lack of institutional and technical capacity to resolve long neglected and increasingly complex social and economic problems, but also from a failure to adhere to basic democratic governing principles, including transparency and accountability.
Citizens elect their leaders expecting them to represent their constituencies effectively and to introduce, implement and monitor public policies that will respond to collective needs. Similarly, constituencies expect democratically elected leaders and public officials to be responsible for their decisions and actions and to be accountable to the citizens they serve. Democratic governance encourages citizens to reward and/or punish public officials for their performance and hold them accountable.