Auditor General launches Citizens Accountability framework

By Eric Wainaina

The Office of the Auditor General will start involving civil societies and ordinary citizens while undertaking audit in public institutions as it seeks to enhance efficiency and accuracy in its mechanisms of flagging mismanagement of funds.

The Edward Ouko-led agency yesterday launched an “engagement framework for citizen accountability audit” which sets out guidelines for enhancing citizen participation in auditing process by making use of the information regarding implementation of government projects.

The framework, which is contained in a 44-page booklet, has been created with focus on social financial accountability and with the aim of maximising partnership with citizens for guaranteed accountable governance and ensuring accountability in the management of finances and services delivery.

Launched through a partnership with the World Bank and other donors, the programme will mainstream citizen participation in public financial compliance and performance audits as a way to enhance transparency, lawfulness, accountability and effectiveness.

Speaking during the programmes’ launch in Nairobi on Friday, Ouko said it would lead to a pro-active approach in their role in protecting public money from unscrupulous government officials.

This, he said is because civil societies and ordinary citizens, have increasingly been engaging in governance in both levels of government and will enable them keep tabs on the budget making process, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of government programmes and projects.

Further, the move, he noted will create a different approach in the implementation of their reports, which always highlight massive embezzlement in the counties but their recommendations are never implemented and action are never taken on the masterminds.

With this framework, we shall pass full information about financial operations in public institutions to the public through citizen participation. We will also be able to end the blame game on who has failed in the implementation which we have failed,” he said, noting that the programme will enhance external oversight.

He added: “The office of the Auditor General must put the frontier of accountability that resonates with people and we need to deal with issues (of accountability) effectively and factually, otherwise there is no value in doing this the same way without questioning the value and efficiency.

Civil societies which have been a thorn in the flesh to managers in public institutions will among other things do data collection, report writing, validation of the reports and managing the collected data, a thing which will be done in collaboration with stakeholders who include ordinary citizens.

They will also help in building citizen literacy on financial oversight issues, be the link between the Auditor General’s and communities and spearheading follow ups to ensure those indicted by the reports are held accountable.

The process will involve communication between the parties, consultation, capacity building, participatory audit, interface meetings, collaboration and as well as follow-up, so as to ensure shared information, increased awareness and skills and accountable governance.

The target result includes improved governance in public finance management, enhanced service delivery, reduction of theft, impunity and mismanagement of public funds and increased inclusivity, transparency and accountability.

Ouko, who will be leaving office next month regretted that the current approach in their auditing focus mostly on the process on expenditure as per the Public Finance Management Act, but hardly interrogates more on the value for the money.

Participants in the launch said budget estimates and the process on implementation should not be the only points to be relied on during the auditing process because sometimes the end reports do not reflect the actual picture on the ground.

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