What Social Audit is?
- Social audits stood for — speaking truth to power.
- Social audits can be developed as an ongoing process through which citizens participate in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the programme.
- Social audit is much more than just a tool of “good governance”.
Meghalaya & Social Audit:
- In April 2017, Meghalaya became the first State in the country to pass a social audit legislation, the Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act. This Act mandated social audits across 21 schemes and 11 departments.
- Meghalaya is a Sixth Schedule Area, so the audits had to be built on traditional tribal institutions, leveraging their inherent strengths and facilitating their engagement with contemporary democratic practices.
The audits were deliberately positioned to be a platform for sharing information about:
- schemes, and enhancing awareness amongst people about their entitlements;
- detecting beneficiaries who were eligible, but had been left out;
- recording people’s testimonies;
- identifying priorities for inputs for planning; registering of grievances; and
- pinpointing systemic shortcomings.
- The critical requirement of recording financial and procedural irregularities and deviations between fact and record remained a core part of the exercise.
- The audits helped identify and bring about evidence-based policy changes.
Meghalaya-A role model
- In India today, there is a growing acknowledgement of social audits as a credible means of institutionalising citizen oversight.
- There is therefore an urgent need to come up with a working protocol for facilitating social audits across a range of interventions.
- The experience of Meghalaya has taught us how social audit is intrinsically related to processes of community participation and grievance redress. The Meghalaya pilots have also helped formulate a practical framework through which that can be done.
- By passing and rolling out a social audit law, Meghalaya has made a breakthrough in the framework of accountability to the people.
- Knowing the reluctance of most government establishments to share power or become accountable, this initiative is unlikely to spread or become robust, unless driven by citizens groups.
- Civil society needs to shape the social audit campaign, be a watchdog, and staunchly protect the independence of the process.
- Social audits must become part of the demand for effective legislation for the whole country.