In line with furthering the work carried out by the  the OLACEFS Commission for Citizen Engagement (CPC), from 2016 to 2017 the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic of Ecuador presided over the preparation of the “Assessment of the implementation of impact indicators for good practices in Citizen Engagement of CPC members “. This study was carried out with the advice of Sebastian Umpierrez de Reguero Msc., Associate Professor at Casa Grande University, Guayaquil, Ecuador.

As its main conceptual reference the diagnosis used the reoprt ““Indicators for Measuring the Impact of Citizen Engagement in OLACEFS SAIs”, previously put together by the Commission in conjunction with the Civil Association for Equality and Justice (ACIJ) from Argentina. The report lists 8 aspects for how SAIs and citizens can contribute internally: 1) audit planning, 2) results of oversight, 3) SAI identity and strategy, 4) participation demand from the SAI; and externally: 5) government accountability, 6) public positioning and institutional image of SAI, 7) provision of public services and 8) fight against corruption and creation of an oversight culture.

Methodology

The assessment involved 11 of the 12 SAI members of the CPC, with participation of officials from the citizen attention-, international cooperation- and communications departments. The methodological design used a mixed approach in two stages: 1) a statistical-descriptive analysis using a questionnaire to find out the availability of data on practices of Citizen Engagement; and, 2) follow-up of processes through interviews with those involved to complement information obtained through the questionnaires.

Main findings

The findings of the assessment reveal the efforts of the Supreme Audit Institutions of the Commission towards institutionalizing Citizen Engagement mechanisms. In this area, for these control agencies a contribution was clearly made by citizens in establishing a system of “sensors” and/or “early warning” for potential irregularities regarding the use of public resources (Peruzzotti, 2010) .

It should be noted that although these efforts are increasing, in practice the institutionalization of Citizen Engagement mechanisms is more complex. According to what was said in the interviews, it depends on the regulations in SAIs’ countries of origin, on the respective institutional designs and on the budget assigned to programs for linking with citizens.

Internal aspects – i.e. the participation practices that have a direct impact on the management of the control bodies, such as planning audits, institutional identity and SAI strategy, and demand for Citizen Engagement – turned in more complete information, though their impact could not be established in all cases. This shows significant progress in terms of the institutionalization of practices such as citizen reporting, in addition to SAIs being more open to responding to requests for information, providing training to external actors and including products suggested by civil society in their strategic plans.

Regarding external aspects, SAI positioning and institutional image present opportunities for exponential publicizing of Citizen Engagement strategies. In this context, although the control bodies do not measure the media impact of the linkage programs with civil society, there is interest on the part of Citizen Engagement departments to work with communications units to strengthen the information channels for external actors and the general public. This aspect is fundamental to generate trust amongst citizens and credibility regarding the role of SAIs in ensuring the integrity of the public sector.

Finally, it is hoped the results of this assessment will facilitate the adoption of a gradual approach, prioritizing practices and indicators that will be measured in the future, and that through discussion and consensus the SAIs will commit themselves to generating a baseline that allows them to establish the effectiveness of Citizen Engagement mechanisms and their impact on improving government oversight.

For the full report please click on the following link:

Assessment of CTPC-OLACEFS members’ implementation of Citizen Engagement impact indicators