What are Social accountability assessments?
Social accountability is broadly defined as a citizen-centred approach to building state accountability1. Social accountability mechanisms cover a broad range of actions that citizens, communities and civil society organizations can use to hold government officials accountable, including, but not limited to: participatory budgeting, independent bugdet analysis, public expenditure tracking, citizen report cards, community scorecards, social audits, citizen’s charters, public hearings, e-governance and e-procurement, citizens’ juries and community radio.
This guide focuses specifically on those social accountability tools which (a) are diagnostic in nature (generally involving citizen monitoring), and (b) may include corruption/anti-corruption as one important area of analysis, namely citizen report cards (CRCs), community scorecards (CSCs) and social audits (SAs). Other social accountability tools which focus specifically on tracking resource flows are covered in the Public Finance Guide and Education Health & Water Guide´2.
In addition to these more well established social accountability mechanisms, there has been a recent proliferation of citizen-centred initiatives which use online technology to promote transparency and accountability in the public sector in general, and in politics in particular. Such initiatives generally work either by providing citizens with a platform to report on incidences of corruption/malpractice, or by aggregating and publishing data on political finance, the performance of public officials, and potential conflicts of interest in the public sector. Such initiatives, however, cannot be regarded as assessment tools per se, given that the data collected is rarely representative and/or systematically analysed. Nevertheless, as an innovative approach which has important research potential, these initiatives warrant a special mention here. We have compiled a non-exhaustive list of these tools and will continue to add more as they appear.
Download the full guide (pdf, 150KB)
1 World Bank (2004) Social Accountability: An Introduction to the Concept and Emerging Practice
2 Other related guides include Access to Information, and Local Governance