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Communities and Accountability

Communities and Accountability. What Are We Learning? Stephen Commins ‘Can Communities Make Change?’. Service delivery failures. poor access to public services – inefficiency collusion with vested interests – non-responsiveness widespread corruption – weak accountability

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Communities and Accountability

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  1. Communities and Accountability What Are We Learning? Stephen Commins ‘Can Communities Make Change?’

  2. Service delivery failures • poor access to public services – inefficiency • collusion with vested interests – non-responsiveness • widespread corruption – weak accountability • systems with weak integrity – abuse of authority

  3. Accountability Triangle • There are two “routes” of accountability in services: • Short route: When the client has a direct relationship of accountability with the service provider • Long route: When the citizen/client has accountability over the service provider through it’s relationship with the politicians/policymakers who has a compact with the provider • The two routes can be shown through an accountability triangle:

  4. Possible roots of the problem • budget allocation problem – governments spend on the wrong goods and people • expenditure tracking problem – resources fail to reach service providers or users • problem of monitoring and accountability – weak incentives for effective service delivery • problem of participation and awareness – demand-side constraints

  5. Good governance • Good governance is not the same as development or anti-corruption. • The challenge for all societies is to create a system of good governance that promotes, supports and sustains human development, especially for the poorest and most marginal. • Good governance is—among other things—participatory, transparent and accountable. It is also effective and equitable. • Public officials are responsible for their conduct (they must obey the law, rules, procedures and not abuse their powers) and their performance (they must serve the public interest in an efficient, effective and fair manner). • In return, people have rights and responsibilities including the right to information, to organize, to services and to uphold their responsibilities as citizens.

  6. (social) accountability • Accountability is “a pro-active process by which public officials inform about and justify their plans of action, their behaviour and results and are sanctioned accordingly” • Social accountability is “an approach towards building accountability that relies on civic engagement, i.e. in which it is ordinary citizens and/or civil society organisations who participate directly or indirectly in exacting accountability”

  7. Governance and social accountability • Accountability mechanisms that address power relations, • especially bringing the society directly to the service providers (social accountability) • Can be an approach to improve governance, development effectiveness and empower the poor (including vulnerable groups).

  8. Governance and social accountability • Can they? • What are the prerequisites/ challenges? • How does social accountability interface with top-down donor/state public reform and decentralisation agenda? • What about the issue of limited political space that constrains civil society participation?

  9. Horizontal accountability Horizontal (or Internal) Accountability: Formal relationships within the state itself, where one state actor has the formal authority to demand explanations or impose penalties on another • Political mechanisms (constitutional constraints, separation of powers, the legislature and legislative investigative commissions) • Fiscal mechanisms (formal systems of auditing and financial accounting) • Administrative mechanisms (hierarchical reporting, norms of public sector probity, public service codes of conduct, rules and procedures regarding transparency and public oversight) • Legal mechanisms (corruption control agencies, ombudsmen and the judiciary)

  10. Vertical Accountability Vertical (or External) Accountability: Citizens and their organizations play a direct role in holding the powerful to account. • Political mechanisms (e.g., elections, citizen referendums) • mechanisms involving pressure from citizens (e.g., citizen monitoring, participatory planning and budgeting) • lobbying governments and private service providers (e.g., advocacy accessing information, demanding explanations and threatening less formal sanctions, like negative publicity)

  11. Diagonal Accountability • Participation: All men and women should have a voice in decision-making, either directly or through legitimate intermediate institutions that represent their interests. • Transparency: Transparency is built on the free flow of information. Processes, institutions and information are directly accessible to those concerned with them, and enough information is provided to understand and monitor them. • Accountability: Accountability means holding individuals and organizations responsible for their performance.

  12. Different experiences in practice • citizen participation in public policy-making • participatory budgeting • Public Expenditure Tracking Surveys (PETS) • citizen monitoring of public service delivery (such asCBPM & citizen report cards) • citizen advisory boards; citizen’s juries • Citizens Charters • social auditing • monitoring procurement

  13. Deepening Social Accountability • For a significant contribution to governance and poverty eradication, SAs require • Institutionalisation into policy and practice • Dealing with representation issues to address vulnerability • Methods for scaling up that systematically relate local to national level activity • Taking advantage of the human rights framework to inform investments and practice

  14. Beyond the ‘ad hoc’ • How to institutionalize processes which empower communities • How to engage governance to improve front-line service delivery • How to build operational links among local public sector, civil society and private sector development efforts • How to sustain programs supported from above through institutional arrangements grounded from below

  15. Particular challenges • Do not assume that ‘local government is more accountable • Do not assume that ‘voice’ and ‘accountability’ are more than words • Horizontal exclusion • Urban communities • Gender/SRH • PLWA • Collection action and cultural ‘norms’

  16. Questions to consider • where you have seen specific examples of poor governance leading to poor services. • Was lack of accountability, participation or transparency part of the problem? • Who lacked accountability to whom? • What was lacking in transparency? • What was missing in terms of participation? • What were the results in terms of service? • How could these be strengthened or improved?

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