U4 Issue | Development cooperationPeople's engagement Public financial management

Responding to the challenges of supreme audit institutions: Can legislatures and civil society help?

By Albert van Zyl, Vivek Ramkumar and Paolo de Renzio
Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2009:1) 33 p.

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The gaps between approved budgets and the realisation of policy and development goals stand among key governance challenges in many developing countries. Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) play an important role in holding governments to account. However, many SAIs face serious challenges when trying to evaluate the expenditures and performance of government agencies.

This U4 Issue Paper explores those challenges in detail and suggests how SAIs can overcome some of them by forming and strengthening alliances with parliaments and civil society. It proposes that in circumstances where the legislature is weak, the SAI may need to stretch the letter of their mandate for the benefit of more effective application of public resources to development challenges.

Given their central role in funding governance reform, donors have a potentially key role to play in supporting SAIs. Existing support could be made more efficient if related interventions were better coordinated and if underlying political dimensions were taken into account. Donors could also play an important role in financing innovative partnerships between SAIs, legislatures, and civil society.

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