The Citizen Participatory Audit (CPA) is:
- A strategy for reform founded on the premise that public accountability can prosper only with a vigilant and involved citizenry;
- A technique in conducting audits with citizens as members of the COA Audit Teams;
- A mechanism for strategic partnership and sharing of aspirations, goals, and objectives between the COA and civil society;
- A technique for citizen and civil society involvement in other areas of the COA’s work, as partners.
It is an innovation on the first experience to involve citizens in the public audit processes as members of the audit team. The first experience was in the year 2000, but it did not prosper. The new CPA which was launched in November 2012 as a pilot project is now institutionalized through the issuance of a COA Resolution, the provision of a regular annual budget made part of the COA’s budget included in the GAA, and the creation of the Project Management Office (under the Office of the COA Chairperson) that manages the CPA. The CPA was initiated by former COA Chairperson Maria Gracia Pulido-Tan and Commissioner Heidi L. Mendoza.
Background and Problem
While the CPA is meant to respond to the following challenges:
- Lack of manpower resources to conduct more meaningful audits -citizen-partners are force multipliers,
- Slower pace of acquisition of technology skills by auditors than the development of new technology – knowledge and skill sharing among auditors and civil society will facilitate capacity building,
- Inadequate skills in the design and use of evidence gathering tools that are otherwise available with civil society organizations — knowledge and skill sharing among auditors and civil society will facilitate capacity building,
- General mindset among citizens that their role in governance is that of a mere “spectator” and not of an active participant — participation in the public audit process and in other areas of partnership with the COA (e.g. capacity building, simplification of audit reports) makes citizen-partners more involved in governance,
- Difficulty in compelling auditees to implement audit recommendations – civil society organizations have advocacy skills and the presence of citizen-partners in the audit teams have facilitated the implementation of audit recommendations;
It is also a means to avail of the following opportunities:
- By including citizens as part of the public audit process, COA systems and processes are made transparent to citizen-partners leading to increased trust in the COA, and
- The presence of citizens as members of COA audit teams opens to the public abuses of public officials in audited institutions; thus, improving accountability.
Solution and Impact
- Enhanced accountability in Government
- Enhanced transparency of the public audit process
- More involved and active citizenry
- More meaningful audits.
- Capacitated auditors and citizen-partners.
- Improved batting average in audit recommendations implemented.
- Obtaining citizen feedback on what they want the COA to audit, what the audit objective should be, and in what areas they can help with the audit; and, bringing these as inputs to the Strategic Audit Planning activities of the COA. This is done through the CPA Dialogues.
- Designing the audit based on citizen feedback.
- Obtaining commitments from civil society organizations (CSOs) and individual citizens on their involvement in the audit, either in capacity building activities like design and development of audit data/evidence gathering tools and facilitating the conduct of training courses or being a member of the audit team.
- Conducting training courses to capacitate the organic COA audit teams and citizen-partners to conduct specific audits. This includes obtaining inputs from citizen-partners in firming up the audit plan, audit program, and audit tools.
- Partnering with CSOs and individual citizens through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA); and deputizing / authorizing nominated CSO members or individual citizens as members of the COA audit team.
- Planning the audit. This involves the Audit Team composed of organic COA auditors and citizen-partners (citizen-auditors).
- Conducting audit field work which begins with an audit entrance conference. This involves the Audit Team composed of organic COA auditors and citizen-partners (citizen-auditors).
- Analyzing data and developing audit findings, conclusions, and recommendations. This involves the Audit Team composed of organic COA auditors and citizen-partners (citizen-auditors).
- Writing and transmitting the audit report, which begins with the audit exit conference. This involves the Audit Team composed of organic COA auditors and citizen-partners (citizen-auditors).
- Validating the implementation of audit recommendations. This involves the Audit Team composed of organic COA auditors and citizen-partners (citizen-auditors).
The COA has been able to conduct performance audits on a nationwide scale, which otherwise could not have been done without the assistance of CSOs in the design and conduct of capacity building activities and with citizen-auditors. Awards:
- First recipient of the Bright Spots Prize for Open Government Partnership given by the Global Open Government Partnership in 2013 in London.
- Recipient of the 2017 Special Mention Award from the Jury from the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT)
Expansion of the coverage of the CPA: For 2020, the plan is to collaborate with the PhilGEPS and with selected state universities in the training courses of auditors and student-interns who will assist in compliance audits of open contracting in procurement.