Welcome to the World Bank’s Sourcebook on “Social Accountability: Strengthening the
Demand Side of Governance and Service Delivery”!
There is growing recognition both among governments, donors and civil society that
citizens and communities have an important role to play with regard to enhancing
accountability of public officials, reducing corruption and leakage of funds and
improving public service delivery. As a result, Social Accountability has become an
attractive approach to both the public sector and civil society for improving governance
processes, service delivery outcomes, and improving resource allocation decisions. Over
the last decade, numerous examples have emerged that demonstrate how citizens can
make their voice heard and effectively engage in making the public sector more
responsive and accountable.
In an effort to capture the diverse experiences from across the world and make them
available in one single place, the World Bank began developing a Sourcebook in 2005 on
these approaches for reference, familiarization and inspiration. Practitioners and decision
makers in the World Bank and in client countries constitute the primary audience for the
The Sourcebook was originally developed as an interactive resource for use on-line or via
CD-ROM. In order to cater for readers with limited web/ computer access
“downloadable” file versions of the main Sourcebook chapters have been made available
This document is part of the larger Sourcebook on Social Accountability. It constitutes
one of the main chapters of the Sourcebook, originally written as content of web pages
and later converted into a comprehensive text.
The entire Sourcebook is organized in several main chapters:
A Conceptual Chapter (“Social Accountability: What Does it Mean for the World
Bank?”) providing an analytical framework of social accountability, and an
overview of the main concepts and definitions.
Tools and Methods, that are most frequently used as part of social accountability
approaches such as participatory budgeting, citizens report cards and social
Social Accountability in the Regions provides access to case examples of social
accountability in different regions.
Sectoral and Thematic Applications: Social accountability in Public Expenditure
Management, Decentralization, Education and Health;
Social Accountability in Bank Operations provides guidance, case examples and
lessons learned from the implementation of social accountability in Bank
operations, including investment and development policy loans. It also provides
guidance on how to conduct analytical work on social accountability and access to
examples of analytical studies on the topic.
Knowledge and Learning Resources provides access to knowledge and learning
materials on social accountability, including case studies, publications, power
point presentations, manuals, etc.
Chapter 4
Social Accountability and Local Government
INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................ 4
Relevance........................................................................................................................ 4
Local Planning and Budgeting........................................................................................ 7
Participatory Planning and Budgeting .................................................................... 8
Municipal Budget Analysis..................................................................................... 9
Public Hearings and Town Hall Meetings .............................................................. 9
Local Financial Management and Procurement ........................................................... 11
Monitoring Bidding and Contracting.................................................................... 11
Monitoring Public Works Implementation ........................................................... 12
Ex-Post Social Auditing of Government Accounts .............................................. 12
Local Service Provision ................................................................................................ 14
Participatory Service Performance Assessments .................................................. 15
Service Specific Accountability Institutions......................................................... 16
Institutional Oversight of Local Government ............................................................... 16
Citizen Oversight Bodies ...................................................................................... 17
Regulations that Empower Citizens...................................................................... 18
Participatory Institutional Assessment and Municipal Reform Instruments ........ 19
CRITICAL FACTORS AND ENABLING CONDITIONS............................................ 21
Supply Side Factors and Conditions ............................................................................. 21
Policy and Decentralization Legal Framework..................................................... 21
Transparency and Access to Information ............................................................. 22
Attitudes and Capacity of Local Government Officials ....................................... 24
Demand Side Factors and Conditions........................................................................... 25
The Role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) ................................................. 25
Constraints to Citizen Participation in Social Accountability Initiatives ............. 26
Factors Enabling Citizen Participation in Social Accountability Initiatives ........ 27
GUIDANCE FOR OPERATIONAL WORK .................................................................. 29
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ........................................................................................... 31
Case Studies .................................................................................................................. 31
Argentina, Municipality of Avellaneda, Public Hearing ...................................... 31
Developing a Transparency Initiative in Romanian Municipalities ..................... 33
Colombia, “Bogotá How are We Doing” (Bogotá Cómo Vamos)........................ 36
References..................................................................................................................... 41
Website Links to Resources and Case Studies ............................................................. 46
Social Accountability Sourcebook
Chapter 4
Social Accountability and Local Government
This chapter is about social accountability and local governments. The main objective is to
illustrate, through case examples, the most common strategies that citizens2 employ to hold local
governments accountable for the fulfillment of their public duties and for their performance,
besides voting with ballots or “with their feet.”
Of the three main types of decentralization, this chapter focuses on devolution to local
governments, the transfer of authority for decision making, finance, and management to quasiautonomous units of local government. 3 Devolution provides the most enabling context for
citizens’ demands for accountability to have an impact on government performance. While the
other two forms of decentralization, deconcentration and delegation, transfer some authority to
lower levels of government, the incentives of the latter are for upward rather than downward
accountability. 4
The chapter is organized in four sections:
It begins with a brief discussion of why it is important that citizens engage in demanding
local government accountability.
The next section, which forms the core of the chapter, presents a simple framework for
organizing the multiple entry points and mechanisms through which citizens have tried to
influence local government accountability, and illustrates them with examples.
The third section identifies a set of structural factors and conditions, both on the supply
(government) side and the demand (civil society) side, that are likely to influence the
success of civic strategies for local government accountability.
The fourth section provides a short checklist of useful tips to bear in mind in operations
that promote these kinds of social accountability strategies.
Accountability is critical for successful decentralization. The core promise of decentralization is
for local government services to be better aligned with local preferences. This is unlikely to
This document was prepared by Rodrigo Serrano (HDNSP). Comments were provided by Ani Dasgupta, Arsala
Deane, Reiner Forster, Andre Herzog, Asmeen Khan, Kate Kuper, Kai Kaiser, Carmen Malena, Keith McLean,
Mary McNeil, Kathrin Plangemann, and Uri Raich.
While the text refers to citizens as the actors of the social accountability initiatives, often they act through civic
organizations, either membership-based community based organizations (CBOs) or third party organizations
Local governments refers only to elected local governments, statutorily or constitutionally defined, and
corresponding to formal levels of sub-national administration. It does not refer to deconcentrated units of central or
provincial governments.
Deconcentration grants increased responsibilities to branch offices of line ministries or territorial entities.
Delegation assigns a specific function or program to a decentralized entity, for example, the administration of
certain components of a national poverty targeting program can be delegated to local governments (Litvack et al
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Social Accountability and Local Government
occur without the proper incentives and institutions to hold local government accountable to this
Conventional Approach. The conventional approach to ensure local government accountability
has relied on two kinds of accountability mechanisms:
External mechanisms that rely on citizen’s votes or mobility. By narrowing the
jurisdiction served by government (bringing it closer to the citizen) and the scope of
activities for which government is responsible, decentralization is supposed to lower the
barriers to citizens’ access to information about government’s performance. Citizens can
use this information to hold local government accountable through: (i) local elections
(voice) or the threat of voting officials out of office, and (ii) mobility (exit) or the threat of
moving out of town and taking their revenues to another district. By facilitating access to
information, then, decentralization itself is supposed to facilitate accountability. This
explains why decentralization is often prescribed as a solution to government
accountability deficits.
Internal mechanisms that rely only on government action to promote local government
accountability. These include administrative and financial regulations, central
government audits, and local legislative control over the executive branch.
Limitations. While conventional mechanisms of accountability are necessary, often they are
insufficient to ensure local government accountability.
Besides the structural limitations of electoral accountability, 5 local elections are subject
to elite capture and other weaknesses of local political markets, weak media, etc.
Since it is too costly for citizens of developing countries to relocate in response to local
government performance, mobility is not a realistic option.
Other common limitations for achieving more robust internal accountability mechanisms
include: the weak capacity of local government, central government’s lack of resources to
manage all local governments, and, insufficient balance of power between branches and
levels of government.
With the spread of decentralization throughout the world, these limitations have become more
conspicuous. This has often been used to justify bypassing local governments, further
undermining them, and compromising the sustainability of development interventions. One
strategy to address this risk has been to improve conventional mechanisms of local government
accountability, for example, by reforming local electoral systems to strengthen the link between
Some of the structural problems are: (a) elections only hold elected officials accountable, and not appointed
bureaucrats, (b) elections cannot give clear accountability signals to individual office holders because voters have
only one opportunity to punish or reward numerous governmental decisions and because we can never know
whether they are enforcing prospective or retrospective controls, (c) voting is a decentralized strategic action—
because it is hard for citizens to coordinate the orientation of their votes, the power of voting as a control mechanism
is weakened. (Przeworski, Stokes, and Manin 1999; Ackerman, 2004).
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politicians and voters (e.g., ward-based elections), and reforming financial management systems
to introduce greater transparency. 6
Contribution of Social Accountability. A complementary strategy has been to introduce a range
of citizen-based accountability mechanisms that compensate for the shortcomings of
conventional mechanisms. Many of them have become enshrined in government regulations and
institutions, further enriching and complementing the repertoire of instruments that governments
have to deliver on the promise of decentralization. 7 Social accountability initiatives have been
aimed at specific dimensions of local government work (see the next section on Entry Points)
and the evidence of their potential added value is stimulating growing interest and continuous
By introducing participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre in the early 1990s, the local
planning and budgeting process ceased being an instrument for political clientelism and
patronage. Instead, it became a tool for responding to the needs of the poor and for citizen
oversight. Empirical research of participatory budgeting across municipalities in Brazil
showed that it systematically leads to pro-poor spending. 8
By allowing citizens to oversee the bidding process for waste collection service, the
municipality of Morón in Argentina saved $13 million, reversing a pattern of municipal
corruption and lack of transparency that had seriously undermined its credibility with the
local citizenry. 9 As a result, the national government created a national program called
Citizen Audits (Auditorias Ciudadanas) which scaled up and expanded this and similar
kinds of initiatives. 10
A word of caution. While reading this chapter it is important to keep in mind two messages:
First, social accountability tools provide incremental impact to the overall accountability
framework. By themselves, social accountability tools are insufficient to make local
governments accountable. The section on critical factors expands on this message.
Second, the cases are selected to illustrate the tools or arguments presented in the chapter
rather than serving as examples of best practice. Some of these examples are pilots that
have yet to face the challenges of scaling up.
See Schaeffer (2005), Schroeder (2002), and the World Bank decentralization website at
See, for example, Andrews and Shah (2003), and Andrews (2003)
Baiocchi et al (2004)
For more information, see
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This section presents a simple framework for classifying the multiple entry points and
mechanisms through which citizens have tried to influence local government accountability.
These entry points are illustrated through country examples and a discussion of appropriate
social accountability tools for the country context. Citizen-based initiatives to demand local
government accountability have tended to cluster around four entry points. Broadly speaking,
these entry points reflect key dimensions of local government accountability that citizens
perceive they can do something about.
The lack of responsiveness and transparency in the allocation and prioritization of local
resources have led citizens to demand accountability in local planning and budgeting.
Corruption and misuse of local revenues have led citizens to demand accountability in
local financial management and procurement.
The quality and effectiveness of local government services have spurred initiatives to
demand accountability in the performance of local service provision.
Poor local governance has encouraged citizens to demand accountability with respect to
local government’s overall performance leading to a range of mechanisms for
institutional oversight of local government.
This is not a comprehensive classification of all the possible entry points. Rather, it aims to
provide a framework for the examples found through the literature search. Given the limited
nature of this search, it is desirable that new examples and new entry points are added in the
future. Local revenue collection, for instance, is a critical local government function which is not
discussed here due to the lack of available examples.
Local Planning and Budgeting
Critics or skeptics of decentralization argue that local governments often allocate their resources
in response to pressures from local powerful elites or their clients. Insulating local governments
from society, however, would not be an adequate response to this problem since it can lead to
technocratic and unresponsive choices. Instead, social accountability initiatives have tackled this
challenge by:
reforming the way local governments plan and budget, and developing new
instruments such as participatory planning and budgeting
conducting independent municipal budget analysis to pressure local governments to
justify (and rectify) the priorities reflected in their budgets; and
relying on generic instruments for civic engagement such as public hearings.
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Social Accountability and Local Government
This section briefly discusses the use of three mechanisms which employ civic engagement to
increase local government accountability. They are often accompanied by supply side
(government-initiated) interventions aimed at increasing transparency and access to information
about the formulation of local plans and budgets (see section 3 on Critical Factors and Enabling
2.1.1 Participatory Planning and Budgeting
Participatory planning and budgeting enables citizens to participate in the decision-making
process through which a local government formulates its plan and budget. By channeling
citizens’ preferences on the allocation of local resources, local governments have incentives to be
more responsive to local preferences. Participatory budgeting per se is not a social accountability
mechanism. However, it can create favorable conditions for social accountability if:
by participating in the prioritization process, citizens become better informed about what
the local government has committed to deliver;
by investing time and effort in the process, citizens also gain an extra motivation to better
understand how the local government allocated resources;
It becomes a social accountability mechanism if:
the formulation process includes specific mechanisms to allow citizens to review and ask
questions on the implementation of the previous year’s plan; or
citizens’ committees that participated in the formulation process continue to function
during the year and oversee the implementation of the plan.
There are multiple methodologies for doing participatory planning and budgeting, and various
strategies for incorporating them in local government practice. In some countries, such as
Bolivia, the national or state government has made it a mandatory process for all local
governments. In other countries, such as Brazil, it is a voluntary process in which each local
government decides whether to adopt this methodology. 11
The World Bank, in turn, has promoted these methods through Development Policy Loans such
as the Peru Programmatic Decentralization and Competitiveness Adjustment Loan, through local
government investment operations such as the Mozambique Decentralized Planning and Finance
Project, and through multi-sectoral community driven development operations, such as the
Albania Second Community Works Project. Community driven development operations have
often piloted participatory planning methodologies that were subsequently adapted and scaled up
through local government support operations. The Indonesia Initiatives for Local Governance
Reform Project is introducing participatory budgeting at the district level based on the lessons
learned from the first two phases of the Indonesia Kecamatan Development Program (KDP). 12
Bolivia (Goudsmith and Blackburn, 2001), Brazil (Baiocchi et. al., 2005).
Peru (World Bank 2003b), Mozambique (World Bank 2003c, Serrano 2002), Albania (World Bank 2003d),
Indonesia (World Bank 2005c).
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A detailed discussion on how to do Participatory Budgeting can be found in the Methods and
Tools Section (see chapter 3).
Municipal Budget Analysis
Municipal budget analysis allows civil society organizations to analyze the content of a local
government’s plan and budget, exposing possible biases or omissions, and demanding that local
government explain and/or rectify them. They also aim to be awareness raising campaigns. A
detailed discussion on budget analysis, sometimes referred to as independent budget analysis,
can be found in the methods and tools section (see chapter 3).
Most examples of independent budget analysis have occurred at the national or state levels. Two
examples at the local government level fight gender discrimination in local government
In South Korea, the NGO WomenLink, with the support of the Ministry of Government
and Home Affairs, carried out a gender budget analysis of seven local governments and
trained municipal staff and women’s groups to include a gender perspective in planning
and budgeting. Annual gender budget analysis has been done since 2001. 13
In Tanzania, a coalition of NGOs and women organizations launched the Gender
Budgeting Initiative (GBI). Their work included pilot studies on gender budgets,
lobbying and advocacy to influence local government budgets. 14
Public Hearings and Town Hall Meetings
Public hearings and town hall meetings are probably the most common instruments through
which citizens request explanations from or provide feedback to local government about
planning and budgetary decisions. They are consultative, non binding measures for informing
local government decisions.
In Armenia, since 2001, the NGO Communities Finance Officers Association has helped
organize public hearings to provide citizen feedback on the draft budgets of local
government (or Local Self-Administration Bodies). 15
Public hearings are useful deliberative mechanisms to deal with controversial issues.
In Argentina, the construction of a bridge in the municipality of Avellaneda generated
significant conflict between two neighborhood groups. The World Bank, which was
planning to finance the project as part of a municipal development project, proposed that
the municipality convene a public hearing. An NGO facilitated the public hearing process
World Bank (2005a).
WB (2005b). See also Budlender, 2000, p. 26, and
For more details, see http:/
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which produced two outcomes. First, the hearing improved the original project by
introducing modifications that addressed the concerns of the residents who opposed the
construction of the bridge. Second, the hearing reduced tensions within the local
community. Many of the residents of the wealthier neighborhood continued to oppose the
project, but they recognized that the hearing did address some of their concerns. 16
New information and communication technologies (ICT) are dramatically expanding the number
of citizens that can participate in public hearings and the quality of their interactions with local
In the United States, a town hall meeting used innovative ICTs to facilitate participatory
planning in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site in New York City, called
“Listening to the City” (see Box 1). Although this is a case from a highly developed city
government, the technology can be applied in many different settings including most
large cities in developing countries.
Box 1. Rebuilding the World Trade Center, New York City
On July 20, 2002, about 5,000 people representing different groups from Manhattan and the tri-state area
participated in a town hall meeting called “Listening to the City”, to share their thoughts about six
preliminary concepts for the Trade Center site, which the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) unveiled days before the forum. Many
criticized them as too dense, too dull and too commercial. The poor reception of these concepts reflected
disappointment with the plans and with their underlying premise, which seemed to produce not six
different ideas but half a dozen variations on one idea. Shortly after “Listening to the City”, LMDC and
the Port Authority announced that a new program would be developed.
Listening to the City combined technology with face-to-face dialogue, using a format called “21st
Century Town Meeting”. This format captured the full range of participants' ideas and allows these ideas
to be heard and discussed not only by people at the same table, but by the entire assembly. Participants in
Listening to the City held 10-to-12-person roundtable discussions, each led by a trained facilitator skilled
in small-group dynamics. A network of laptop computers recorded the ideas presented during the
discussions. Each table's input was instantly transmitted to a theme team composed of volunteers and
AmericaSpeaks staff that identified the strongest concepts from the discussions and reported them back to
all the participants. Based on the roundtable discussions, the theme team quickly developed a set of
priorities and questions that were posted on large screens throughout the meeting hall, allowing people to
get quick feedback about how their perspectives compared to the thinking of the larger group. Each
participant used a wireless polling keypad to vote on these questions and the results were immediately
displayed. This process allowed modification to the agenda to correspond more closely to the tenor of the
discussions. Another key component of Listening to the City was a two-week online dialogue. Between
July 29 and August 12, 2002, a total of 818 people exchanged ideas and expressed their preferences
through this dialogue (Civic Alliance, 2002).
See the Annex for more information on this case.
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Social Accountability and Local Government
Local Financial Management and Procurement
Local financial administration and the contracting of goods and services are functions that suffer
from high risks of corruption and mismanagement. Important financial accountability risks are
the following: (i) expenditures from public funds are not used for authorized purposes, (ii)
expenditures are used appropriately, but their execution is mismanaged (inefficiency,
malfeasance, or corruption), and (iii) the collection and use of public funds are not completely
and adequately accounted for and not presented to the local legislature and the mayor.
A number of citizen-based initiatives have emerged to complement the internal government
accountability mechanisms that manage these risks. They can be grouped under three categories:
monitoring bidding and contracting
monitoring public works implementation
ex-post social auditing of government accounts
2.2.1 Monitoring Bidding and Contracting
A typical source of local government corruption and collusion involves drafting the tender
documents in ways that unfairly benefit one contractor over others. One social accountability
response to this problem has been to organize public consultations in which different parties get
a chance to comment on the draft tender document before the start of the bidding process. In
addition, independent outsiders can be involved in in-depth analysis of the tender document.
In Argentina, the Municipality of Morón, assisted by the local chapter of Transparency
International, introduced two mechanisms to monitor the contracting of the waste
collection service which had been widely criticized for alleged corruption during the
previous administration. First, through a public hearing (extraordinary session of the City
Council) attended by 500 people, participants discussed the draft tender document with
the bidders. Second, through an integrity pact, the hearing helped establish mutual
commitments between the local government and the bidders on issues such as sanctions
for bribery, and public disclosure of the award decision. As a result of the hearing
process, the contract for waste collection services was reduced from about $45 million to
$32 million. 17
To increase greater transparency, citizens have also been involved in overseeing the opening and
analysis of the bidding offers:
Transparency International (2001). The case is described in greater detail in
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The Nicaragua Social Investment Fund encouraged community organizations receiving
investment projects from the municipality to be present during the opening and analysis
of the bidding offers. 18
Monitoring Public Works Implementation
In these kinds of activities, citizens oversee the procurement and implementation process while it
is actually taking place. Citizens are trained to oversee that investment funds are spent as
budgeted and that physical construction meets the standards agreed to in the contract, e.g., the
correct amount of cement, thickness of the walls, or depth of the well.
In El Salvador, the municipality of San Antonio del Monte entered into a partnership with
the beneficiaries of a six kilometer local road. The beneficiaries formed a social audit
committee which monitored the physical construction process, from the receipt and
quality of the materials to their proper use. The committee interviewed the Mayor, the
head of the Institutional Procurement and Contracts Unit, project technical staff, and the
general public to ascertain the project’s budgetary characteristics, the quality and quantity
of resources, timetable, and needs. Guided by the committee, the community conducted
ongoing evaluation of the physical progress of the public works project, a task that
required precise technical expertise. The committee reported to the Local Development
Committee and the local government throughout the process. 19
Community-driven development (CDD) has been particularly powerful in empowering poor
people to monitor implementation of small-scale infrastructure projects.
The Honduras Social Investment Fund supports the creation of community-based
maintenance organizations. They supervise local government managed projects and
contribute to the operations and maintenance of the facility. These organizations are
trained in simple construction techniques that allow them to oversee the building process
Ex-Post Social Auditing of Government Accounts
Other strategies emphasize ex-post social auditing of budget execution and review of local
government accounts. Some initiatives have focused their efforts in making information about
local finances available to the public to promote a dialogue with local government.
In India, the PROOF (Public Record of Operations and Finance) campaign is a project
launched in 2002 by four NGOs from Bangalore to pursue financial and performance
accountability of the Municipal Corporation of Bangalore. PROOF follows three stages.
Grun (2000).
World Bank (2003a), Vidaurre (2003).
Walker et al., (1999). For other countries see WB (2005d)
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First, it obtains the quarterly financial statements submitted by the Municipal Corporation
which comprise (i) revenue and expenditure statements compared to original budget
figures, and (ii) an indicative balance sheet, with detailed information about current and
long term assets in addition to short and long term liabilities. Second, the PROOF team
develops performance indicators to assess municipal projects across the city in key areas
of municipal responsibility (e.g., education, health). Third, the campaign promotes open
discussion through radio programs and workshops about the municipality’s overall
performance in financial management and service delivery. The campaign also conducts
regular training sessions to enable citizens to read, understand and debate financial
statements and performance indicators. 21
In other initiatives, citizens have performed physical and financial audits of the local government
accounts. By comparing the written records with the actual outputs and discussing them in public
venues, citizens have forced local government to answer the following kinds of questions. Has
the local government spent its money on the goods and services that its accounting books say it
has? Has it paid the market price to its providers and contractors? Have the purchased goods and
services been delivered to their final destination in the quantity and quality that has been paid
for? For more on social audits, see the Methods and Tools chapter.
In the Philippines, a group of professionals in the northern state of Abra formed the NGO
“the Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Government” (CCAGG). From its inception in
1987, CCAGG worked with the local government authorities to monitor the
implementation of the Community Employment and Development Programme (CEDP).
CCAGG soon came across serious irregularities in the reporting of CEDP projects. While
the Department of Public Works and Highways claimed that it had successfully
completed 20 infrastructure projects in Abra, CCAGG documented that some of the
projects had not even started and that others had been completed using sub-standard
materials. As a consequence of CCAGG’s investigations, 11 officials were found guilty
of misconduct and were dismissed. CCAGG has continued its vigilance after its first
success and soon became synonymous with public vigilance. Public departments in Abra
often ask each other if they have been “CCAGG’ed” recently, meaning if they have been
made subject to a CCAGG audit. The organization received the Transparency
International Integrity Award in 2000 for its successes in promoting public
accountability. The same year, CCAGG entered an agreement with the Philippines
Commission of Audit (COA) that members of CCAGG will participate in COA audit
teams for audit engagements in the province of Abra. The partnership is seen to be highly
beneficial for COA, as it strengthens their capacity and its ability to pursue corrective
actions in the implementation of public works projects, in addition to the post-audits
traditionally performed by COA. 22
In India, the social audit of local government’s Public Work Programs in the state of
Rajasthan provides one of the most compelling examples in this field (see Box 2).
PROOF (2005). See also,
Sundet (2004, p.7), WB (2005a, p.10).
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Box 2. Social Audits of Local Government-Managed Public Works Programs in Rajasthan, India
The Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS – the Workers and Farmers Power Society) in Rajasthan is
a thousand-member informal union which has protested local government corruption for the past ten
years. MKSS introduced participatory social auditing to compel panchayat (local government) leaders and
government officials to account for development program expenditures. This involved initiating public
hearings in which detailed accounts derived from official expenditure records and other supporting
documentation are read aloud to assembled villagers. The meetings are organized independently and are
presided over by a panel of respected people from inside and outside the area. Officials are invited to
attend and local people are asked to give testimony, highlighting discrepancies between official records
and their own experiences as laborers on public work projects, applicants for means-tested anti-poverty
schemes, and consumers in ration shops. This has led to the exposure of misdeeds by local politicians,
private engineers, and government contractors, leading to voluntary restitution in a number of cases.
Accountability problem. MKSS’s initial focus was on the persistent denial of full wage payments to
women working on government drought-relief public works programs. A substantial portion of women’s
payments were routinely pocketed by the overseers of these projects, the junior engineers responsible for
taking measurements of the amounts of earth moved in building a road or a bridge, and the local
government politicians responsible for persuading rural development officials to locate a drought-relief
program in the area. Other funds were regularly diverted by over-invoicing for building supplies and other
forms of account-rigging.
Social accountability response. MKSS addressed this problem by holding dramatic public hearings in
which women testified about under or non-payment in front of officials. Officials’ protests that underpayment was not their fault, but was due to insufficient funds from the central government, was
contradicted when local government accounts were read aloud in public, showing the receipt of proper
funds for the project in question. Over-invoicing was exposed when local suppliers explained they had
delivered only half or less of the amounts of sand, bricks, rocks, or cement that the accounts indicated had
been purchased from them.
Conditions that enabled this initiative. A serious obstacle to this method of exposing corruption was the
lack of citizen rights to information about government spending. However, years of campaigning resulted
in the promulgation of a state-wide right to information under the local government act of April 2000,
enabling MKSS and other organizations to access official documents much more effectively. The
willingness of women and poor men to engage in this struggle for justice comes from years of investment
by MKSS in changing local attitudes towards domestic tyrants and towards the state, depending mainly
upon inculcating the very modern view that in a democracy, the role of civil servants is to serve the
public, making no distinctions between citizens.
(Goetz 2003; Jenkins and Goetz 1999)
Local Service Provision
From a citizens’ perspective, the most critical accountability dimension of local government is
whether services under local government responsibility meet the standards that citizens expect.
There are a number of strategies that citizens have used to address these issues. Some rely on
participatory assessments and feedback surveys, and are often accompanied by agreements on
the expected standards of services. Others rely more on public representation in service-specific
institutions that channel citizens’ complaints and allow them regular oversight.
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Participatory Service Performance Assessments
One of the main innovations that drew attention to the potential of the social accountability
approach was the experience of citizen report cards in Bangalore, India. 23 This initiative proved
that a powerful way to improve local government services was by collecting citizens’ feedback
about the performance of local services in a structured way, and using that assessment as a
yardstick against which to measure future improvements. This basic concept has led to a
proliferation of initiatives that use different types of participatory performance assessments to
evaluate local government services.
In Uganda, the city of Kampala conducted its first citizen report card in early 2005. It
provided the City Council and other basic public service providers with feedback on
water and sanitation, health, education, roads and public transport, solid waste
management, public toilets, the management of the city environment, maintenance of law
and order, and management of city infrastructure. 24
In Colombia, the project known as Bogotá Cómo Vamos (“Bogotá How Are We Doing”),
is a citizen initiative that has been evaluating changes in the quality of life in Bogotá
since 1998. Its evaluations are based on the impact of the municipal development plans,
taking into account citizens’ opinions. For the last five years it has recorded the main
variations in coverage, quality and public perception of basic services, gathered citizens’
opinions through an annual opinion survey, and created forums for debate on issues of
well being in the nation’s capital district. It covers: education, health, economic
development, public finances, public management, environment, transport, safety, and
housing and public services. 25
In Ukraine, the People’s Voice Project aimed to strengthen the capacities of citizens and
local government officials to interact with one another via a combination of service
delivery surveys, policy development training for public officials, support for public
hearings, and media participation in four pilot cities. A 2002 final evaluation of the four
city pilots found continuing active relationships between NGO coalition members,
working groups and municipal officials. Municipal officials still seek citizen feedback
and input through the use of public hearings, consultations. Municipalities have made
plans to engage in further surveys. An increase in transparency of local government
decision-making has been reflected by budget hearings and public hearings in education,
transportation and housing issues. The pilot has been expanded into six additional
cities. 26
Paul (2002). For more information, see The website has a citizen
report card toolkit for improving local governance and service delivery.
Kampala City Council and Uganda Management Institute (2005).
Sanchez (2003a). See also:
26 See also Monastyrski (2004).
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In Nicaragua, as part of the Monitoring of the Poverty Reduction Strategy, community
score cards on municipal education were piloted in the Municipality of Malpaisillo. 27
A complementary strategy has been to develop citizens charters. These are pacts between the
community and the service providers which spell out expectations and roles, enabling the
citizens to interact more effectively with the municipality. They specify the expected standards
of the services, identify who is responsible, and outline the procedures for the redress of
complaints. For example, the Citizens’ Charter in the Municipality of Mumbai, India, covers
detailed public services for each municipal department (Box 3).
Box 3. The Citizens’ Charter in the municipality of Mumbai, India
This Charter covers specific public services for each municipal department. For example, with regards to
the Solid Waste Management Department it specifies such items as the disposal of dead animals, the
authorized collection spots from where garbage is to be picked up, the maintenance of public toilets, the
collection and transportation of garbage, the sweeping of roads, the cleaning of dustbins, and other
sanitary measures. Citizens can lodge a complaint if the garbage disposal truck is not covered properly.
They can demand a response from the municipal corporation within 24 hours from the time the complaint
is filed. Other services included in the charter are: solid waste management, waterworks, sewerage, storm
water drains, road maintenance, traffic, public health, licenses, environment sanitation, education,
electricity, transport, building proposals, shops and establishments, gardens, and the Mumbai fire
Sources: World Bank (2005a),'s%20Charter/forward.html
Service Specific Accountability Institutions
Other strategies have relied on the creation of new institutions to promote citizen oversight over
a specific service provided by local government. Usually these are multi-stakeholder councils
formed by different combinations of users, civil society organizations, government, and private
sector representatives. They are developed in the sectoral chapters of the Sourcebook. 28 They
include examples such as the Local School Councils in the Chicago 29 and Citizen Community
Boards and School Management Committees in Pakistan. 30
Institutional Oversight of Local Government
Another entry point is to focus social accountability initiatives on local government as a whole,
as an institution of local governance. The purpose of these initiatives is to embed citizen
oversight in the practice and organization of local government affairs. Three alternative (and
complementary) strategies for achieving this are:
See chapters on Education, and Health. See also Levy (2004) and Clert et. al. (2005).
Fung (2005).
ADB/DfID/World Bank (2004).
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creating or strengthening citizen oversight bodies
passing regulations that empower citizens to demand their rights
promoting participatory institutional assessment and municipal reform instruments.
In addition, there are a number of transparency related initiatives that are discussed in the next
section (on critical factors and enabling conditions) because they are either aim to make local
government more accountable without relying on citizen initiatives or at facilitating social
accountability without necessarily involving public demand for explanations (e.g., access to
information laws).
Citizen Oversight Bodies
Citizen oversight bodies are institutional structures formed by citizens to provide a direct channel
for citizen oversight over local government work. These oversight bodies can be formed by all
the citizens in the municipality (gram sabhas in India), several citizen representatives (Vigilance
Committee in Bolivia), or one elected member (citizen ombudsman in Japan).
In India, the 1993 decentralization reform created gram sabhas to increase the
accountability of local government (gram panchayat) representatives to citizens. The
gram sabha consists of all of the persons within a gram panchayat area (typically 10,000
people) and meets once per year in the month of December. At this meeting, elected gram
panchayat representatives review the proposed budget for the following year and review
the accomplishment (or lack thereof) of the previous year’s budget and action items.
Similar meetings occur twice a year at an even more disaggregated level of panchayat
governance. The purpose of the gram sabha is to provide villagers the opportunity to
obtain clarification from their representatives on all aspects and activities of the gram
panchayat. Research shows that most gram sabhas have had many difficulties in
functioning as effective social accountability mechanisms. 31
In Bolivia, the Law of Popular Participation created local vigilance committees to
monitor the activities of elected local government bodies and participate in local planning
and budget creation. Members of vigilance committees are selected from various
traditional governance systems including peasant associations and indigenous communal
institutions. The participation of non-elites is encouraged. Vigilance committees that
suspect wrongdoing by local councils can invoke a legal complaints procedure in which a
special committee of the Senate reviews the case and has the power to suspend funds to
the local council if it is found to have acted inappropriately. 32
In Japan, in response to the widespread perception of corruption in local governments in
Japan, a civic movement began establishing citizen ombudsmen in several municipalities.
The success of this initiative led to its spread throughout the country, the formation of a
National Citizen Ombudsmen Liaison Council, and to the recognition of this mechanism
See Alsop et al (2001); Sethi (2004); Rao (2005).
See Blair (2000). Also:
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in government statutes. In addition, the National Council developed a survey to rank the
level of transparency of local governments, which was used as an additional source of
pressure over local government to improve its performance. 33
Regulations that Empower Citizens
Other initiatives have focused on introducing legal mechanisms that empower citizens for
grievance redress or with the right to request explanations regarding municipal legislation.
In Romania, a USAID project developed and implemented a Transparency Initiative
which, among other things, piloted the following set of rules for social accountability in
several municipalities (see the Annex for additional details):34
Notice-and-comment rulemaking. The municipality must provide prior written
notice of intended action on any normative act (ordinance or decision with general
applicability) by publishing such notice at city hall and in the newspaper, and
where relevant, on radio and TV. The notice must also be provided to any press
organization or person who has filed a request. The published notice must contain
a short explanation of the proposed enactment, the text of the enactment, and
instructions on how comments may be proposed and a hearing requested. For a
period of at least 30 days after publication, the public must be afforded the
opportunity to submit written comments. The municipality must consider these
comments before an act is adopted, and the adopted act itself must be formally
Public hearings. As part of the process of adopting normative acts, the
municipality must hold a public hearing on the proposed act if at least 25 persons
or an association having at least 25 members request it.
Public petitions. Any person or organization may petition the municipality to
adopt, amend, or repeal a normative act, and the petition must be reviewed and
responded to in writing.
Administrative complaints. The municipality must go beyond the minimal
provisions of the country’s administrative appeals law by giving complainants an
opportunity to be heard, and shifting the burden of justification to the government
to prove that they followed rules and processes, as opposed to the complainant
having to show that the government failed to do so.
In Nepal, three municipalities, assisted by the local chapter of Transparency International,
improved their transparency and accountability through the implementation of integrity
pacts. These pacts established rules that promote transparency, an enabling environment
Russell-Einhorn (2003).
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for integrity, a procurement system that follows prevailing rules, a public grievance
mechanism, and a monitoring system. 35
Participatory Institutional Assessment and Municipal Reform Instruments
Other strategies to improve the accountability of local government have relied on participatory
exercises through which citizens assess local government institutional performance. These
assessments cover local government planning, financial management, and service provision,
identifying areas where citizens demand better performance and propose mechanisms through
which local government can address issues.
In Venezuela, a World Bank supported project in the municipality of Campo Elias
showed that engaging citizens in designing municipal accountability reforms can improve
the credibility and performance of local governments (see Box 4).
Box 4. Improving Local Governance in the Municipality of Campo Elias, Venezuela
A participatory diagnosis of development constraints in Campo Elias identified poor governance,
characterized by generally unresponsive and corrupt public administration, as a barrier to achieving
better public services and more dynamic private sector growth. In response, a multi-faceted program
of action was undertaken to reduce corruption and improve public management.
The Campo Elias Action Plan, formulated by a social control board comprised of four civil society
representatives that worked directly with the municipal mayor and council, included three pillars:
greater participation, increased transparency, and procedural reform. Participatory municipal planning
and budgeting were introduced to enhance citizen involvement and influence in local affairs Citizen
oversight bodies monitored expenditures, procurement, and service delivery. Public hearings and
dissemination of public documents (including audits) were introduced to increase the transparency of
local governance, complemented by media initiatives and community-based information campaigns.
Administrative procedures for business licensing, civil registry, obtaining access to public services,
and collection of taxes and fees were simplified and broadly disseminated. All of these measures
were closely coordinated between municipal authorities and the agencies of central government at the
local level. Their implementation was monitored by citizens groups and local business associations,
with the support of the central government and technical assistance providers.
As a result of these efforts to improve local governance, performance monitoring and surveys of local
citizens and businesses indicate that the accessibility, effectiveness and efficiency of regulatory action
and public service delivery increased significantly while lack of information and corruption were
visibly reduced. By addressing the information and administrative constraints on public sector
performance, the stakeholders of Campo Elias demonstrated the potential of improving governance to
contribute to local development.
Source: World Bank (2000)
Transparency International (2001). The case is in:
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In Bangladesh, as part of the Local Governance Development Project, the Ministry of
Local Government has implemented participatory performance assessments in 81 Union
Parishads (UP) – the lowest tier of local government – in the Sirajganj district. Using a
public scorecard, the participatory performance assessment reveals the strengths and
weaknesses of the union parishads. Citizens use the score cards to grade their officials,
assess their financial management, service delivery, and determine the level of female
participation in decision making, assess transparency, accountability and overall
governance. The assessments are done once a year with the participation of the
community representatives, UP bodies, and local government officials. Around 100-300
persons attend the assessment sessions. UP representatives facilitate these assessments.
The scorecards are posted on a board, and the participants provide their scores. Based on
the assessment, the UP develops a capacity building plan. It also gets access to bonus
funds. 36
In Nigeria, as part of the preparation of the LEEMP project, the World Bank developed a local
governance scorecard to enable citizens to assess local government performance. 37
WORLD BANKI (2005a); UNDP (2005)
See Esmail et. al. (2004) for a copy of the tool.
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Even the best designed social accountability mechanisms and institutions will have little impact
on downward accountability of local governments if critical factors and enabling conditions are
not in place. The specific factors and conditions will vary depending on the national and local
context. Generally, issues are on the supply (government) side or demand (citizens/civil society)
side of the social accountability equation.
Supply Side Factors and Conditions
There are two sets of factors related to government that influence the capacity of citizens to
demand accountability and of local government to respond. These are: (1) the policy and
decentralization legal framework, including the regulatory framework with regards to access to
information, and (2) the attitudes and capacities of local government officials with regards to
social accountability.
3.1.1 Policy and Decentralization Legal Framework
An incomplete decentralization framework is likely to greatly impede social accountability
approaches. Many countries have devolved responsibilities to local governments without the
resources to match them. In some cases, central government has retained control over some of
the inputs that are critical for good performance. This makes it difficult to hold local government
accountable. For instance, although Pakistan has devolved responsibility for education to the
districts, school teachers remain employees of the provincial government. The district nazim or
elected executive has little authority over the hiring, firing, evaluation, or placement of
teachers. 38
Clarity of functional assignments. Public service functions and responsibilities should be clearly
assigned among levels of government so citizens know what level of government they should
hold accountable. Overlapping and unclear assignments is one of the most common conditions
hindering downward accountability of local government.
Budget size. The size of the local government budget needs to be large enough so that citizens
perceive local governments as relevant actors for local development and worthy of oversight.
Research in India shows that despite dissatisfaction with local government (gram panchayats)
and despite the existence of certain social accountability institutions (gram sabhas, vigilance
committees, etc) citizens had little interest in demanding accountability. One reason is that
citizens perceive gram panchayats to be ineffective due to the small budgets they control. 39
Budget flexibility and autonomy. The use of local revenues should allow local governments to
exert some discretion over their inter-sectoral allocation so that they can respond to citizen
ADB et. al. (2004)
Alsop et. al. (2001); Raich (2005).
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preferences. Local governments should also have budget autonomy. Having higher level
government determine local budgets/priorities often impedes social accountability mechanisms.
Hard budget constraints or letting poorly governed local governments fail. One of the most
important incentives for local accountability is establishing clear rules that avoid systematic
bailouts of local governments by regional or central government when they encounter financial
problems caused by mismanagement and corruption. This is particularly serious in those
countries where sub-national credit guarantees have led local government to access credit
markets in an uncontrolled manner. Access to capital markets with no concern for financial
solvency creates the opportunity and propensity for corrupt behavior. Bailouts provide the wrong
incentives. Instead, the failure of local government to meet its obligations should be seen as an
opportunity for reform. 40
Fiscal autonomy. The greater the share of local revenues that come from own sources (local
taxes and fees) and the greater the autonomy of local government with respect to those sources,
the greater the incentive for local citizens to demand accountability from local governments.
Overdependence of local governments on central transfers undermines local government
accountability to its constituency. This facilitates local governments shifting the blame for
breakdowns in service delivery to upper tiers of government. 41
Control over the local civil service. Often local governments do not have control over the local
civil service, limiting their capacity to demand accountability from civil servants. This is
particularly the case in countries where strong deconcentration schemes coexist with
devolutionary policies.
The role of the legislature. The municipal legislature has a critical role in overseeing the local
executive branch. The way in which local councilors are elected influences their accountability
to the electorate. When local party lists are decided locally rather than by the national party, local
legislative representatives have more incentives to be accountable to their constituents. Ward
systems (or electing councilors from within subdivisions of the local territory) helps to avoid
urban bias in the councils representation.
The size of the local government. Small-size local governments tend to be more accountable, but
they are also more likely to be resource-constrained and thus more dependent on central
government transfers which reduce local accountability. 42
Transparency and Access to Information
Improving access to local government information is a critical enabling condition for social
accountability. Some of the initiatives in this area include:
Vergara (1999).
There is a large literature on this topic. See Raich (2005) for a review.
Rowland (2001), Bird and Rodriguez (1999)
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Passing legislation with regards to access to information in local government (several states in
India have passed access to information laws)
Reforming local government financial administrative systems to make them more transparent,
easy to understand, and publicly accessible. In Peru, the Ministry of Finance developed an
integrated financial administration system which is accessible by the public through the internet
and allows citizens access to a wide range of local government financial information.
Making transparency a condition for accessing fiscal transfers. In the World Bank Tanzania
Local Government Project, one of the conditions for accessing capital investment funds is
ensuring a minimum level of transparency in local government. 43
Building Transparency in Budgeting and Public Procurement. The local chapter of Transparency
International piloted a reform program in Serbian municipalities to increase transparency and
accountability in budgeting practices and public procurement in three municipalities.44
It is important that the level and detail of the information publicly provided is sufficient to hold
the government accountable for the sources and uses of funds for efficient production of services
by the local government. The information should also enable effective monitoring of corruption.
As a rule of thumb the following information needs to be publicly available in user friendly
formats: (i) executed and programmed annual budget, (ii) roster of all employees with total
salaries including bonus, (iii) disclosure of assets by upper management, council members and
the mayor, (iv) data on the open tendering procedures, (v) mandated unitary costs and standards
of public works, (vi) monthly or quarterly financial reports, and, (vii) performance indicators for
the delivery of key services. 45
In La Paz, Bolivia the mayor ordered that all municipal rates for services be painted on
visible walls throughout the municipality. This in turn prevented municipal employees
from overcharging for services.
In San Marcos, Guatemala the mayor ordered that the municipal accounts be painted on a
wall in the town square, thus informing the public on how funds were spent.
There are many instruments to measure municipal transparency.
In Colombia, the Colombian Federation of Municipalities, the National Planning Council,
and the local chapter of Transparency International have launched a municipal
transparency index which covers four areas: (i) information about the development plan,
budget, investment projects, administration of human resources, procurement, etc; (ii)
compliance with norms regarding expenditure laws, internal accounting systems,
procurement, etc; (iii) accountability to citizens regarding the execution of the municipal
World Bank (2004).
Transparency International (2002, p.221).
Vergara (1999)
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development plan and national social assistance programs; and the (iv) promotion of civic
participation in planning, budgeting, monitoring public services, etc. 46
Toolkits to promote local transparency are available for public use, such the Tools to
Support Transparency in Local Governance Toolkit developed by UN-HABITAT and
Transparency International. 47
Attitudes and Capacity of Local Government Officials
The attitudes and values of local government officials towards social accountability greatly affect
the possibility for social accountability to take place and influence choices about the kinds of
social accountability tools to adopt. For instance, officials that are more sympathetic to citizens’
oversight will lower the costs for citizens to pursue social accountability while those that are
more reticent will do the opposite.
Many capacity building efforts have focused on influencing the values, perceptions and skills of
local government officials to engage with citizens in a more participatory manner.
WBI is implementing a program on “Radio Capacity Building on Municipal Participatory
Budgeting in Africa” The program aims to produce and deliver high quality and engaging
didactic material on participatory budgeting building on the oral tradition of African
community learning. The transmission of the learning materials, complemented by
workbooks and manuals, is expected to motivate reform minded local governments and
their community leaders to establish more effective and equitable definition of public
budgets at the local level. At the conclusion of the program the expected outcome is to
establish a network of reform minded local governments willing to open their budgetary
process to the public with a special focus on vulnerable and underrepresented members of
their community.
In Bolivia, the central government and many NGOs have trained local officials in
methods and approaches for participatory and accountable governance.
In India, where local government slots have been allocated for women and lower caste
representatives, considerable work goes into training these newly elected representatives,
many of whom have no previous leadership experience in formal politics. Training,
networking and village-to-village peer education and support methods strengthen these
leaders’ capacities to be more effective in being accountable to the disenfranchised
groups they represent.
UN-HABITAT and TI (2004).
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Demand Side Factors and Conditions
The Role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)
CSOs are often an important ally in passing and monitoring decentralization policies which
enable local governments to be accountable.
In India, Lok Satta, a national NGO, launched the Campaign for the Empowerment of
Local Governments: an unprecedented effort to collect signatures from 10 million people
in Andhra Pradesh in support of local government empowerment. The campaign
succeeded in mobilizing the state government to approve a series of resolutions that
adopted many of Lok Satta’s proposals on devolution. 48
In Ghana, a group of civil society organizations led by the Integrated Social Development
Centre, 49 conducted a study to track the disbursement of the District Assemblies
Common Fund (DACF). The DACF is a constitutional provision which reserves 5
percent of national tax revenue to fund development activities by districts, allocated to
districts according to a formula. It is the largest single source of development funding for
many districts. The study was carried out in four District Assemblies in collaboration and
with financial support from DFID and the World Bank. The objectives of the study were
to examine the method of allocation to local authorities, actual amounts and uses of the
allocations, guidelines and compliance for utilization, and identification of the
weaknesses of the Fund’s administration. The findings of the study demonstrated that
although the District Authorities followed established procedures for the use of the funds,
the administration of the fund itself was quite problematic. These problems included
delays in the releases of the DACF, discrepancies in the amounts allocated, disbursed,
and received, and, misuse and discrimination in the selection of projects, award of
contracts, cost and quality of projects. The study made recommendations to improve
awareness and public education on DACF processes, and identified ways to minimize
political interference and institutionalize tracking of DACF using participatory
methods. 50
In Peru, a consortium of local and international NGOs called Participa Peru has
established the Decentralization’s Civic Vigilance System. This system gathers, analyzes
and disseminates government information about the implementation of the
decentralization process. This information then is presented and debated in different
public fora. The information includes budgetary allocation and execution, progress in the
normative framework, transparency and access to information, and the functioning of
participation mechanisms and civic-government decision making institutions. 51
For more information:
For details, refer to
King et al (2003).The report is in:
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Constraints to Citizen Participation in Social Accountability Initiatives
It is common to see many districts where despite strong dissatisfaction with the way the local
government operate, citizens do not hold local government accountable. While some of the
reasons for this have to do with supply side context, others have to do with the characteristics of
the local civil society. 52 Some of these characteristics are:
Cost of participation. Preoccupation with daily subsistence makes it difficult for many poor
people to invest time in demanding accountability.
Dependency on local relationships (both social and economic) for access to critical local goods
and services. Dependency means that poor people can pay a high cost if their demands for
accountability offend those on whom they depend. In extreme situations, this could lead to social
exclusion from the community.
Perceptions about the effectiveness of the social accountability mechanism. Villagers will take
into account the success of previous efforts in social accountability in their calculation about
whether or not to engage in social accountability. Unresponsive or corrupt local officials, who
are often allied with the local elite, tend to dissuade citizens from engaging in social
accountability mechanisms.
Awareness of citizen’s rights. One of the most important capacities that citizens need is the
awareness of the very basic notion of citizenship. As citizens in a democracy, they are entitled to
demand accountability from civil servants. The difficulty of instilling this notion this in many
local settings is graphically illustrated by Anne-Marie Goetz’ analysis of the auditing of a public
works programs managed by local government in Rajasthan:
“For poor rural women to stand up in front of local officials and politicians and accuse
them of lying and theft is an extraordinary achievement in a traditional, some say feudal
society like rural Rajasthan. These same officials and politicians may be their neighbors,
may be their employers or landlords, may control access to key state resources, like a
land ownership certificate, a marriage or birth certificate, or the right to participate in
another drought-relief program. They may be higher caste members of the local
community, in a position to make life impossible for lower caste villagers, excluding
them from access to key resources like water. The willingness of women and poor men
to engage in this struggle for justice comes from years of investment by the MKSS in
changing local attitudes towards domestic tyrants and towards the state, depending
mainly upon inculcating the very modern view that in a democracy, the role of civil
servants is to serve the public, making no distinctions between citizens.” 53
Alsop et al (2001, p. 12-14).
Goetz (2003).
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Factors Enabling Citizen Participation in Social Accountability Initiatives
Social capital, social mobilization, and networking. Citizens will have a better chance of
demanding accountability if they interact with local government through representative
organizations than if they engage in social accountability mechanisms individually. The larger
the number of citizens represented in an organization, the greater the leverage in their interaction
with local government. Citizens need to be organized before they interact with local
governments. Many community driven development (CDD) programs have justified their
contribution to local governance precisely by strengthening the capacities of citizens to act
collectively and engage government through their organizations. Some CDD operations have
focused in particular on strengthening federations of poor people. Donors such as USAID have
also supported activities to strengthen networks of civic organizations. Two examples that
illustrate these trends are:
In India, the Andhra Pradesh District Poverty Initiatives Program and the follow-up AP
Rural Poverty Reduction Program have empowered the rural poor, especially rural
women, by working with over 450,000 self-managed grassroots savings and credit
mobilization groups and over 800 federations of such groups representing more than 4.5
million people. These groups have cumulatively saved more than $20 million and
mobilized more than $150 million of bank credit annually. These groups and federations
represent communities with economic self-help and provide them with greater leverage
vis-à-vis local governments and public service providers. For example, CBO federations
have worked with local health officials to improve the quality of health services by
implementing community scorecards, and are currently doing the same with panchayats
(local governments). This network of self-help groups not only facilitates the
mobilization and training of poor people to participate in these assessments but also
provides the capacity to propose innovative solutions to community problems. 54
In Ghana, the GAIT (Government Accountability Improves Trust) Program, implemented
by the Cooperative League of the USA (CLUSA) with support from USAID, aims to
promote partnerships between district assemblies and civil society. The cornerstone of
CLUSA’s activity has been the selection of facilitators for each target district and support
for the establishment of civic unions which unite primary civil society organizations at
the district level. These unions appear to be effective both in channeling demands to
District Assemblies and in mobilizing citizens to collaborate in co-production of local
services. 55
Technical capacities. Poor people need to have the skills to interpret a municipal budget, to
understand the different sources of local revenue and their respective conditionalities, and
decipher the information contained in municipal financial records, etc. For example, one of the
main limitations of the vigilance committees in Bolivia is the difficulty for most peasants to
understand the functioning of a local government. To remedy this and enable the majority of
peasant communities to assess local government performance, 3,600 peasant families from the
World Bank (2003e), Helling et. al. (2005).
Appiah (2003).
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municipality of Totora have elected a representative to receive three days of training per month
on social monitoring of local government. This peasant delegate, in turn, provides culturally and
linguistically appropriate training to men and women from each peasant community. 56
Transparency and the local media. Local media organizations have a critical role to play in
enhancing the voice relationship between citizens and local government. It gives citizens a
channel to educate themselves about local government performance and publicize their views on
concerns about performance. It also gives local government a channel to disseminate information
about their activities, and respond to criticisms. The most important media outlet for poor people
is the radio, and community radios have been a key strategy for improving access to information.
The World Bank is increasingly supporting these strategies.
WBI is implementing a grassroots media development for empowerment and social
accountability initiative. This global capacity building project’s objective is to promote
the use of grassroots media as a means to broaden civic engagement in major public
decisions, track the performance of government offices delivering social services, and
monitor budgetary processes at all government levels. The project, which targets local
governments, supports innovations launched in Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Sri Lanka,
Malawi, and Benin. 57
An investment loan in Ecuador—the Poverty Reduction and Local Rural Development
Project (PROLOCAL)—is supporting community radios with the view to disseminating
information about the budget to local communities (in Spanish and other languages). 58
Lopez (2003).
Pichon et al (2004).
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While conducting operational work that involves building social accountability mechanisms
around local government, it may be useful to keep the following points in mind:
1. If the decentralization framework does not provide the right incentives for local
government accountability (if it is incomplete or has conflicting incentives), civic based
strategies will be limited in their ability to achieve accountability
2. It is important to work simultaneously on both the supply and the demand sides of the
accountability equation. Social accountability mechanisms should strengthen and
complement the oversight role of conventional mechanisms rather than undermine or
replace them. Introducing social audits, for example, should be combined with efforts to
strengthen the central government’s auditing functions and initiatives to make accounting
and procurement systems more transparent.
Social accountability mechanisms should be used as a strategy to improve the
performance of local governments, rather than a way to punish local officials. The
critical message for both central and local governments is that social accountability
mechanisms are an important public management tool to improve performance. They
provide feedback on areas where performance unsatisfactory, put pressure on local
officials to fulfill their obligations, and create opportunities for citizens to engage in
problem solving.
4. Other incentives may convince local governments of the benefits of adopting social
accountability mechanisms. An important incentive for local governments to engage in
social accountability is that it could help attract local economic investments, and help
increase local revenue mobilization. In Indonesia, a national newspaper and the Gadjah
Mada University carried out several surveys on local governance. Results were widely
distributed and attracted local investments to better performing districts and cities. 59
Other types of incentives include facilitating access to additional central government
transfers which can be conditional based on local governments meeting minimum criteria
for transparency (such as in the case of Tanzania mentioned earlier).
5. Social accountability is often about operationalizing existing provisions and mechanisms
in national legislation, not adding new ones. Many social accountability tools are already
built into the national legislation on subnational government. The problem is that these
tools are not operationalized. Examples include legal provisions on public hearings and
town hall meetings or citizen oversight bodies such as the gram sabhas in India.
6. A good understanding of the implementation context is critical for introducing social
accountability mechanisms. The disposition of local government authorities towards
social accountability (their attitudes, values, and receptivity) will influence the selection
of the entry point and the mechanism for social accountability. If the government is
Communication with Asmeen Khan.
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suspicious of citizen oversight, it is probably better to start with mechanisms that are less
confrontational (such as Participatory Budgeting). In contrast, the more receptive the
local government is towards public scrutiny, the greater the opportunities to introduce
deeper social accountability measures (e.g., social audits). It is not recommended to
introduce social accountability shortly before local elections..
7. Institutionalization strategy. It is important to start with local governments that have a
minimum level of commitment to act upon the input provided by social accountability
initiatives so that citizens see that there is a pay-off to their efforts. If well publicized,
there can be a significant demonstration effect of pilot activities. Pilot activities
conducted by civil society organizations in more adversarial contexts are also of great
value in promoting policy reform. While the MKSS experience exposing corruption in
local governments in Rajasthan was conducted in only a few local governments, the
publicity of its success has been an important factor in the adoption of freedom of access
to information laws in about 16 states in India.
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Case Studies
Argentina, Municipality of Avellaneda, Public Hearing 60
Beginning in 1999, a project to construct the La Serna Bridge generated conflict between two
neighborhoods in the municipality of Avellaneda, a suburb of Buenos Aires. The residents of
Villa Modelo, a low-income neighborhood, lobbied for the construction of a bridge that the
municipality had promised, with or without financing from the World Bank. For these residents,
the benefits of the construction of the La Serna Bridge were considerable, in particular, greater
accessibility from their neighborhood to the city of Buenos Aires. A small, but well-organized
and well-advised, group representing residents of La Serna Park, a high-income neighborhood,
strongly opposed the project. According to these residents, the new bridge would have only
negative impacts on their neighborhood.
The municipal government’s two previous efforts to consult residents had failed to reduce
tensions between the two neighborhood groups. Faced with escalating conflict between these
groups, the Bank proposed to the municipality that it convene a consultation in the form of a
public hearing.
The municipal government used an external partner, Citizen’s Power, to organize a public
consultation on this contentious issue. Citizen’s Power operated as the Argentinean chapter of
Transparency International. This CSO had organized previous public hearings and had credibility
among local citizens. Its past experience was an important factor because time was limited by
construction deadlines, and a decision on bridge construction had to be reached within 20 days.
Citizen’s Power designed a two-stage strategy for the public hearing. During the first stage, a
training workshop was held for municipal officials in charge of registering participants for the
public hearing and conducting the hearing itself. Following the training workshop, the public
was invited to the hearing. Citizen’s Power used the two principal national newspapers and local
media (radio, graphic media, television and other public media) to announce and convene the
hearing. In addition, to ensure greater participation, Citizen’s Power made personal contact and
extended invitations by telephone to representatives of the neighborhood groups involved in the
conflict. Citizen’s Power opened an office to respond to the public and register participants.
Background information and studies on the construction of the bridge were made available in
this office. A poster in the office directed people with questions, complaints and suggestions to
Citizen’s Power.
Adapted by Sera (2004) from Cesilini (1999).
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Citizen’s Power organized two additional workshops, one with each group of residents involved
in the conflict, to explain the rules and procedures that would govern the public hearing. These
activities ensured the participation of both groups and facilitated an orderly hearing process.
The second stage of the strategy consisted of the public hearing itself, attended by more than 450
local residents, the mayor, and senior officials from the Secretariat of Transportation and the
World Bank. For the participants, the presence and participation of the mayor as the president of
the public hearing confirmed the commitment of local authorities to address the neighborhood
conflict despite the initial reluctance to support the consultation process.
During the 20 days that preceded the hearing, a list of speakers was compiled to maintain an
orderly, informative, and balanced process. More than 60 speakers participated in a public
hearing that lasted more than four hours. While most of the neighbors who attended the meeting
supported the construction of the bridge, speakers represented both supporters and opponents of
the project.
The hearing also served as a forum for the Secretary of Transportation’s technical team, allowing
the team to explain the improvements that had been made to the original project such as the use
of noise reduction panels, the incorporation of a bicycle lane, the restriction of heavy vehicle
transit and the protection of green spaces. In addition, the team shared the results of feasibility
and environmental impact studies. A World Bank representative spoke about environmental
standards and citizen participation in these types of projects.
During the public hearing, Citizen’s Power measured the opinions of the participants through the
use of a self-administered poll: 77 percent of those polled claimed to be highly pleased with the
public hearing process, 57 percent indicated that the organization of the public hearing was very
good, and 76 percent stated that the public hearing had allowed them to look at the issue from a
new perspective.
The public hearing produced two outcomes. First, the hearing improved the original project.
Several modifications were introduced to address the concerns of the residents who opposed the
construction of the bridge. The modifications included redesigning the bridge to improve vehicle
movement, reducing the number of trees to be removed, establishing protection for green spaces,
and prohibiting truck traffic. For most of the actors involved in the process, these modifications
improved the original project and addressed objections by the bridge opponents. Second, this
public hearing reduced the tensions within the local community. The hearing did not completely
resolve the conflict, however. Many of the residents of La Serna Park continue to oppose the
project, but they recognized that the hearing did address some of their concerns.
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Developing a Transparency Initiative in Romanian Municipalities 61
This initiative originated with a business regulatory reform project in Romania from 1999-2002
underwritten by USAID and implemented by the Center for Institutional Reform in the Informal
and processes on business registration, licensing, and operation are interpreted and implemented
at the municipal level, although their parameters are set by national legislation. One of the
advantages of a project working at the local level is its ability to implement a number of
regulatory and procedural reforms that did not require changes to national legislation. In different
municipalities, the project was able to focus on simplifying a wide range of administrative
processes and making more information available to the public about such processes. As such,
the project had a significant anticorruption focus.
The project—working through a task force of business, government, and citizen
representatives—established a component, the Transparency Initiative, which had potential
appeal to both businesses and citizen groups such as tenants associations. The initiative was
drafted with both national and local legislative changes in mind, but in the latter case, was
packaged primarily as a vehicle for strengthening domestic and foreign investor confidence in
municipalities and counties. To provide additional incentives, the initiative was made an explicit
part of a larger, local government competition. The competition, open to all Romanian
municipalities, offered to bestow the status of “five star city”— a designation signaling an
attractive business locale—upon any municipality that implemented a series of transparency and
business deregulation reforms. The project worked with the US and other governments to
provide successful municipalities with special access to trade delegations and other foreign
business groups.
The Transparency Initiative contained the following components:
Notice-and-comment rulemaking. The municipality must provide prior written notice of
intended action on any normative act (ordinance or decision with general applicability)
by publishing such notice at city hall and in the newspaper, and where relevant, on radio
and TV. The notice must also be provided to any press organization or person who has
requested it. The published notice must contain a short explanation of the proposed
enactment, the text of the enactment, and instructions on how comments may be
proposed and a hearing requested. The public must be allowed to submit written
comments for a period of at least 30 days after publication. The municipality must
consider these comments before an act is adopted, and the adopted act itself must be
formally published.
Public hearings. As part of the process of adopting normative acts, the municipality must
hold a public hearing on the proposed act if at least 25 persons or an association having at
least 25 members requests it.
Extracted from Russell-Einhorn (2003).
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Regulatory impact analysis. The municipality must perform a rudimentary cost-benefit
analysis that summarizes the likely legal and economic effects and the costs of
implementation and compliance of the proposed act, where feasible.
Public petitions. Any person or organization may petition the municipality to adopt, amend, or
repeal a normative act, and the petition must be reviewed and responded to in writing.
Administrative complaints. The municipality must go beyond the minimal provisions of
the country’s administrative appeals law by giving complainants an opportunity to be
heard, and shifting the burden of justification to the government to prove that they
followed rules and processes, as opposed to the complainant having to show that the
government failed to do so.
The project paired these transparency provisions—which were designed primarily to reduce or
eliminate the secrecy and unpredictability surrounding the adoption of new rules and
procedures—with two significant business licensing reform provisions. One, involving business
licensing, was that a public authority must provide prior written notice before revoking a license.
The other provided that if a license renewal has been sought, the current license is valid until the
application has been acted upon. Notably, the Transparency Initiative’s provisions were made
subject to judicial appeal in the event of noncompliance.
The project built support for the initiative in a variety of ways. The project held a series of town
meetings and roundtables in which a number of people spoke, including business and legal
experts. The media was courted, and publicity—through press conferences and press releases—
was steady. City council members, with whom the project was working on related business
regulatory reforms, were lobbied vigorously. Once the initiative was passed in a few locations,
city officials agreed to attend other town meetings and conferences to speak out in favor of the
concept. After passage of the initiative, the project provided training to the respective city or
county governments.
Several jurisdictions acted upon the Transparency Initiative in late 2001 and 2002. One
municipality, Giurgiu, adopted the full reform package. Three others—Timisoara, Oradea, and
Brasov—adopted the notice-and-comment rulemaking and public hearing provisions, while
slightly weakening the other three provisions (Timisoara and Oradea) or rejecting them (Brasov).
Two counties, Sibiu and Timis, also adopted the notice-and-comment and public hearing
provisions with respect to legislation produced by their governing councils, and Sibiu posted its
legislative proposals on its web site. Giurgiu garnered considerable publicity for its adoption of
the initiative and won a special award from the UNDP. Local council members from Giurgiu
were also invited to a number of international conferences on local government management and
development. Based in part on this favorable publicity, certain legislators in the Parliament
began to take an interest in the legislative package, together with the Romanian Ministry of
Public Information and the World Bank. The Bank required a transparency law for its second
Public Sector Adjustment Loan to Romania. NATO representatives took an interest in the draft
legislation. Although the Parliament stripped away all but the notice-and-comment and public
hearing provisions from the bill, a national Transparency Law passed in January 2003, becoming
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the national law and preempting similar local legislation including the transparency legislation
adopted by the four municipalities and the two counties during the previous year.
It is too early to tell how actively the national, county, and local governments in Romania are
using the new Transparency Law, but a quick review of Girgiu’s experience with its own, shortlived notice-and-comment procedure (prior to adoption of the national Transparency Law)
showed that it did indeed provide the public with important opportunities to comment on, and
make changes to, proposed policy. In one case, a local sustainable development plan was
presented and, following submission of written comments and a hearing, was modified to reflect
citizen and business suggestions. In another case, tenants associations presented comments and
attended a hearing on budget shortfalls with respect to the local heating supply. To close the
budget gap, the associations agreed to give up heat several weeks early in the spring. In yet other
cases involving proposed bus fares, water and sewer tariffs, and taxes on officiated marriages,
the public made suggestions that resulted in changes to proposed decisions.
In each of the relevant jurisdictions, the project found that the bundling of multiple components
into a single legislative package under the label of a Transparency Law made it more politically
potent and harder for most jurisdictions to reject outright. While business support for the
proposal was helpful, the major impetus for adoption of the proposal in most of jurisdictions
came from politicians. This contradicts the widely held view that open business advocacy
represents a potent force in transition countries. In Romania, at least, most businesses were
politically quite passive and reluctant to stake out positions that might upset existing or future
relations with government officials. In at least one case, political maneuvering for public support
by a mutually suspicious mayor and city council seemed to draw them together to support the
proposal. In another municipality, an ambitious deputy mayor saw an opportunity to make a
name for himself by brokering passage of the proposal under a similar set of circumstances.
Elsewhere, adoption of the proposal seemed to depend principally on the shared perception of
county and municipal councils that their jurisdictions should publicly embrace transparency as a
means of enhancing their reputation with foreign donors and investors. Each of these cases
seems to affirm the general theory that administrative law-type mechanisms will find support
either in instances where political contestation is high or where key external incentives promote
their adoption.
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Colombia, “Bogotá How are We Doing” (Bogotá Cómo Vamos) 62
Bogotá Cómo Vamos was created during the 1997 election campaign, based on the 1991
Constitution’s mandate calling for citizens to exercise oversight of public administration. It was a
response to the absence of a citizen-based accountability mechanism to monitor fulfillment of the
campaign promises made by the candidate and mayor elect, and their impact on the quality of
life in the city.
In view of the changes experienced in the city since 1994, civil society developed an educational
monitoring strategy to hold the district administration accountable and, at the same time, to
present clear and concise evaluation reports to inform the public. In this way, citizens could
assume an increasingly active role in the development of the city.
To develop this initiative, El Tiempo Publishing House, the Corona Foundation, and the Bogotá
Chamber of Commerce forged a strategic alliance to develop evaluation and communication
tools, field test them through focus groups with experts and citizens from different socioeconomic strata, and ensure the political viability of the project through the mayor and his team.
Thus, Bogotá Como Vamos was launched and has emerged as a forum for debate on city issues
due to its acceptance by experts, students, citizens and the district government.
Evaluate changes in quality of life and wellbeing in Bogotá based on compliance with the
District Administration’s Development Plan.
The Bogotá Cómo Vamos project is made up of a coordinating team that includes an expert in
evaluation and local government and an assistant. Its work—on data collection from the District
Administration, preliminary analysis of findings, drafting of evaluation reports, consultation with
experts, and the commissioning of an annual opinion survey—is supported by the Technical
Committee and the Steering Committee. The latter is made up of El Tiempo, the Corona
Foundation, and the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce.
The evaluation process involves the district administration through the mayor, secretaries and
directors of city government offices who periodically submit information. Experts and research
centers have a role in analyzing sector-based evaluations, and the general public participates as a
source of information on city problems and as the target audience for the dissemination of
evaluation findings through the mass media.
The main beneficiaries are the citizens. The final evaluations are targeted toward citizens in
order to make more information available to them concerning changes in the quality of life. The
city administration likewise benefits from the evaluation findings which can be used to adjust its
Extracted from Sánchez (2003)
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strategies and provide access to information on the views of experts and, most importantly, the
citizens themselves.
Bogotá Cómo Vamos is mainly engaged in examining and disseminating evaluation findings. It
requests information from district offices every six months based on a series of outcome
indicators and prepares evaluation reports. The process is supported by working meetings with
experts and findings of the annual survey of public perceptions.
Project evaluations cover health, education, housing and utilities, environment, public areas,
traffic, citizen responsibility, citizen security, public management, public finances, and economic
development. Project coordinators consult a group of experts, hold focus groups comprising
citizens representing six socio-economic strata, and hold meetings with the heads of District
offices, in order to identify these areas and design the indicators.
The main evaluation tool is the series of outcome, technical, and public perception indicators
designed for each sector. The technical variables are based on information submitted by the
district offices every six months. The public perception variables are based on the project’s
annual public perception survey of 1,500 individuals representing various zones and social strata.
Sector evaluations are based on a preliminary report prepared by the project coordinators. This
report is presented to a group of experts for in-depth analysis and to develop conclusions and
recommendations. It is also discussed at seminars or debates to which public officials and
citizens involved in the issue are invited.
In addition, the project sponsors other types of forums and debates on specific issues related to
quality of life in the city. These initiatives have focused on issues such as street people, people
who have been displaced by violence, and political reforms in the city. While these issues are not
directly related to a particular evaluation area, they are considered germane to the project’s main
The mass media were chosen as the vehicle for disseminating evaluation findings. El Tiempo
was particularly important as the newspaper with the largest circulation in the city and
nationwide—reaching 1.4 million people daily, and 3 million on Sunday—as was the local
television station City TV with an audience of 2.9 million people. Other strategies adopted
included publishing a quarterly bulletin with 3,000 copies for distribution to grassroots citizen
organizations, and distributing other publications such as reports from seminars and forums to
experts, libraries, research and documentation centers, universities, and high schools in order to
strengthen institutional memory. In addition to publishing them in El Tiempo, a press release is
sent to about 25 radio and TV stations and the print media. The findings are also posted on the
project’s web page which was recently created in order to reach more people.
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Since 1999, the project has compiled additional information on the city including a series of
monthly statistics on accidents, security, health, citizen conduct, cultural activities and sports,
economic statistics, and environment. Some of these statistics are published daily in El Tiempo
and the information is updated each month on the web page.
Costs and Funding
The total cost of the project is about $75,000, of which 47% is used to pay personnel costs
(coordinator and assistant); 24% is for supplementary activities to the evaluation including
roundtables, forums and seminars, and the annual commissioning of the survey; 20% is for
communications such as the Quarterly Bulletin and forum reports; and 9% is for overhead costs.
Funding for the project’s activities each year comes from a contribution of $22,026 from each of
the sponsoring offices, for a total of $66,078, or 88% of total funding. The remaining 12%
comes from funds left over from the previous year and interest generated from the investment of
The project’s most significant outcome is the diffusion of knowledge based on evaluations of the
performance of the administrations of Mayor Enrique Peñalosa and Mayor Antanas Mockus.
Prior to this, the only information available pertained to the most important projects and works,
but lacked a synthesis of the impact of such activities on the coverage and quality of basic goods
and services.
The district administration has submitted to a process of accountability by agreeing to
collaborate with, and provide information to, Bogotá Cómo Vamos. Previously, the
administration published a book at the end of its term detailing its most important
accomplishments with an emphasis on management and process. Now it presents indicators on
coverage and quality that have more to do with outcomes and impact.
District offices have improved the quality, relevance and timeliness of their information on
service coverage and quality in fulfillment of agreements signed with the project. Before Bogotá
Cómo Vamos, the information provided by these entities tended to describe their many activities
rather than the outcomes of those activities. For example, while previously they reported the
number of housing units built, currently they provide information on changes in the shortage of
housing units.
Some district offices are using information from the annual public perception survey as core
performance indicators. The Secretariat of Education posts this information on its web page: and public service providers design their service delivery indicators
based on this information. The General Secretariat of the Mayor’s Office also uses it to monitor
the administration’s overall progress (see the table of indicators below).
The project played an active role in the 2000 election campaign to elect Enrique Peñalosa’s
successor. It published its evaluation findings in two documents, “Basis for a Government
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Program for Bogotá” and “The Citizens’ Agenda,” in order to frame the most important issues
for the city. These materials were used for special pieces in El Tiempo, a special bulletin
containing a voters’ guide, meetings with candidates, and televised debates on City TV.
Bogotá Cómo Vamos has been recognized among the Best Citizen Practices for Improving
Quality of Life by the UNDP-Habitat Dubai International Award for Best Practices in 2000 and
2002. This recognition led Harvard University to contact the program with a request for more
information. Four hundred people have attended the course it offers, entitled “Bogotá: Public
Policy,” in conjunction the National University of Colombia’s Bogotá Network (Red Bogotá).
One of the project’s most significant accomplishments is the “Concejo Como Vamos” Project,
launched in 2002, to evaluate the performance of the Bogotá City Council with the support of
Bogotá Cómo Vamos promoters. Replication of this project currently is under study for other
interested cities such as Medellín, Cúcuta, Cali, Barranquilla, and Bucaramanga, as well as the
central government.
Constraints and Opportunities
One of the project’s constraints has been the difficulty some district offices have had in
producing relevant data that measure outcomes rather than processes, although this has gradually
improved. In the area of dissemination, the project hopes to reach more citizens from each social
stratum so that they have access to more information about the city. To this end, the project is
seeking to involve radio stations in its activities.
In terms of opportunities, the project is viewed as a forum for debate through which strategic
issues affecting the city can be examined and debated. It is important to strengthen it technically
and financially so that, in the medium and long term, it can serve as a barometer for quality of
life in the city. This entails further strengthening project links to experts and research centers so
that they can make better use of the information produced. More funding also translates into
increased dissemination and sustainability.
What it Measures
changes in coverage, quality • net coverage rates
and public perception of the • average scores on educational performance tests
• percentage of knowledge of values
• citizen scoring of the service
changes in coverage, quality,
and public perception of the
health system coverage rate
maternal mortality rate
mortality rate for children under 5
citizen scoring of the service
Housing and Services
changes in shortages of
priority housing, coverage of
potable water and sanitation
services, and public
perception of services
deficit in priority housing
aqueduct coverage rate
rate of coverage of sewage and drainage system
citizen scoring of the services
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what it measures
changes in pollution levels
• number of figures that exceed legal levels of each air
and public perception
• percentage of water treated by industry
• level of reforestation and green areas
• citizen perception of pollution
changes in traffic delays and
public perception
average time spent in traffic
citizen perception of changes in traffic, quality of the
service, road conditions, and traffic management
Public Space
changes in the per capita
quantity of public pedestrian
space and in the coverage of
roadways in good condition
and public perception
changes in homicide rates,
victimization, and public
perception of insecurity
percentage of roadways in good condition
coverage of rail service/tracks
coverage of bicycle paths
homicide rate
victimization rate
rate of non-reporting
citizen perception of insecurity
accident rate
number of summons issued
alcohol related deaths
evasion rates
citizen perception of responsibility and solidarity
citizen perception of the image, management, trust of
the district’s public entities
rates of capacity to pay and sustainability of the debt
Duff and Phelps, Fitch, and Standard and Poors
GDP growth rate
employment, underemployment, and unemployment
export growth rates
citizen perception of the family economic situation
Citizen Security
Citizen Responsibility changes in citizen behavior
measured by rates and
consequences of infractions
of the law
Public Management
Public Finances
changes in perception about
public administration, public
servants, and local mayors’
changes in financial health
indicators and international
credit risk scores
changes in productivity,
competitiveness, and job
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Social Accountability Sourcebook
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Social Accountability and Local Government
Website Links to Resources and Case Studies
Argentina waste collection case study: and
Citizen Report Cards:
Communities Finance Officers Association (Armenia):
ISODEC (Ghana):
Japan Ombudsman:
Lok Satta (India):
People’s Voice Project (Ukraine):
Public Affairs Centre (India):
Public Record of Operations and Finance (India):,
Tanzania Gender Budgeting Initiative:
Tools to Support Transparency in Local Governance Toolkit developed by UN-HABITAT and
Transparency International:
World Bank decentralization website:
Social Accountability Sourcebook