Social Audit
(Accountability and Responsibility in the Social Development)

Background

Obviously, the human nature is to commit mistakes and when there is an easy flow of funds, there are greater chances of misuse. Hence, it is necessary to monitor his activities. It was in this background that the bureaucratic pyramid was developed in public services and special check measures were initiated through exercising a control, particularly in financial matters. Thus a system of audit was introduced in accounting system. However, this system did not suit with the democratic planning and particularly decentralized governance.

In a democratic system of governance people are masters. The government exists to serve the people. It is the primary duty of any master to take a look at the accounts of the servants at regular intervals and hold them accountable. Social audit is a step in that direction. People use Right To Information to obtain details of the works carried out by a government Department or the manner in which the money was spent by that department. This information contained in records is compared with field reality. This is public or social audit and it is a very important tool in the hands of the people to hold the government accountable. A public audit creates a lot of public pressure on the legislative wing of the government to take corrective steps.

UPVAN has organized “JANO PUCHO JANCHO ABHIYAN” orientation meeting with the workers of member organizations on 26th September 09 at SSK.

Upvan has launched the campaign based on social audit in NREGA .In this campaign action research will be conducted in 16 village Panchayats of 8 districts of Uttar Pradesh with the help of member organizations.

Chief Guest was Mr Sayed Moinnuddin, Former deputy commissioner of Rural Development ministry.He told each and every provision of NREGA act. He also explained the importance of social audit in NREGA.
In this meeting IEC materials related to social audit like pamphlet, manual, posters,pocket guide have been distributed to the workers of member organizations.
 
view Social Audit Booklet...
view Brouchers... 

State Level Planning workshop on Social Audit in NREGA under 'Jano Pucho Jancho Abhiyaan' organised by UPVAN at 10th Oct 09.

A workshop was organised on 10th Oct 2009 by UPVAN at SSK, Lko on Social Audit in NREGA under its "Jano Pucho Jancho Abhiyaan".

Mr. Moinuddin, former Secretary, Rural Development Department and Mr. S.P. Jain, former Director, Panchayati Raj Centre, NIRD, Hyderabad were key speakers. A short film on 'Social Audit in NREGA' was shown. Social Audit Booklet was also released by Sri Moinuddin, Sri Ashok Singh and Sri Vasudev.
view Social Audit Guidebook ...

Need of Social Audit

The monitoring, evaluation and traditional audit could not be effective due to their closed-door proceedings in a formal manner. This process could neither hold the wrongdoers responsible nor it could provide feedback for the future formulation and execution of development works. On the other hand, due to lack of en-masse awareness the pressure could not be built up on policy makers. Hence, there arose the need of social audit based on following factors:

  • Whatsoever development works are executed, must be made public;
  • The implementers might always feel responsible and accountable to public;
  • The public might always feel concerned regarding the implementation of development works;
  • The people in common parlance might know their rights and the manner to exercise the same;
  • The effective implementation of the development plans could be ensured;
    Anticipated results are achieved; and
  • Irregularities might not occur.

Social Audit Defined

Social audit is an ever-going process in which details of the resources, both financial and non-financial, used by public agencies for development initiatives, are shared with the people, often through a public platform. Social Audit allows people to enforce accountability and transparency, providing the ultimate users an opportunity to scrutinize development initiatives.

Process of Social Audit

A social Audit committee needs to be constituted. There must be members of the most vulnerable groups, women and people with disabilities and other neglected community in this committee. This committee will take up social audit process in that specific area and for the chosen programme or activity. This committee will only play the role of facilitation and compilation. It will not take any decision or influence any views of the people. It is expected to play the following role:

  • Environment building on social audit;

  • Collect and prepare list of information people need from time to time (any thing any person may demand);

  • Facilitate transparency in programme implementation (display of as much information as possible, keep the records for public inspection at any point of time and collect feedback from the people);

  • Transcribe the information into people's language (many times it is difficult for the people to understand government language or technical words);

  • Sorting and analysis of information;

  • Sharing the findings with respective person/s and collect his/her opinion, feedbacks and reactions. This may be done collectively in small groups or with individuals, if the person wants;

  • Compilation of all findings (this may be done work-wise, head-wise or group-wise as decided by the people);

  • Presentation of findings (a particular day may be decided to present the findings before all including implementing agency, administration, people's representatives and other stake holders. This is called Social Audit day;

  • Record their views and suggestions and help implementer to rectify or change the process wherever required and sort out if there are any discrepancies in the work, as per suggestions.

Advantages of social audit

        (a) Trains the community on participatory local planning.
        (b) Encourages local democracy.
        (c) Encourages community participation.
        (d) Benefits disadvantaged groups.
        (e) Promotes collective decision making and sharing responsibilities.
        (f) Develops human resources and social capital.

Social Audit & Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs)

The Gram Sabhas have been entrusted with the responsibilities of reviewing planning and executions of village development plans and ultimately place. Their recommendations, for execution before the Gram Panchayats under section-11 (3) of the UP Panchayat Raj Act, 1947. The Gram Sabhas have to enlist people's participation and thus to provide a fillip to the village development works. The PRIs have been empowered for an active role under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (NREGA). It is being discussed in subsequent paragraphs.

Social Audit & NREGA

Perhaps it is the first Act, which has empowered the gram sabha to monitor the execution of works under NREGS. Section-17 of the said Act Lays down that:

  • The Gram Sabha shall monitor the execution of work within the Gram Panchayat;
  • The Gram Sabha shall conduct regular social audits of all the projects under the Scheme taken up within the Gram Panchayat; and
  • The Gram Panchayat shall make available all relevant documents including the muster rolls, bills, vouchers, measurement books, copies of sanction orders and other connected books of account and papers to the Gram Sabha for the purpose of conducting the social audit.

In Uttar Pradesh the work of Social Audit has been initiated alongwith the implementation of NREGA. Besides the Gram Sabhas some of the NGOs have been nominated for doing the social audit of the Uttar Pradesh Gramin Rozgar Guarantee Scheme. Reports are coming up and it is yet to be seen as to how the government utilizes these social audit reports. The gram sabhas are yet to open their account, in the field of Social Audit. They have a long way to go to understand the process of Social Audit. It is also interesting to observe as to how the government makes the weak gram sabhas strong and capable to take up this assignment and execute it successfully.

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