Encouraging Citizens to Participate In the Audit Process
By CPA Paul Muthuri
The Office of the Auditor General has adopted Citizen Accountability Audits to champion engagements with the Kenya Citizens to ensure accountability in the use of Public resources. itizen Accountability Audit is a proactive Audit approach where Citizens participate in the audit process thereby enhancing accountability in governance. Other Countries in Africa that have adopted CAA include South Africa, Ghana and Rwanda.
The Citizen Accountability Audit process involves Citizens in audit planning, execution and reporting. This involves bringing on board grassroots organizations- Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Civil Society
Organizations (CSOs), Faith Based Organisation (FBOs) and the private sector in ensuring good governance and oversight in utilisation of public resources. Grassroots organisations have greater understanding of the needs and challenges of the citizens and therefore are in the position to hold those in governance positions accountable in the use of public resources.
Participating organizations are selected and vetted based on the CAA engagement framework which provides criteria and guidelines for working with the Office of the Auditor- General. The selected organizations then sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the OAG and Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDI) to ensure confidentiality and accountability in processing of audit information obtained from auditees.
Why Citizen Accountability Audits.
The Office of the Auditor-General is charged with the primary oversight role of ensuring accountability in the three arms of government and all the other institutions funded by tax payers. The Auditor-General is further mandated under Article 229 (6) of the Constitution, to audit and confirm whether public money has been applied lawfully and effectively.
This expanded mandate of the Auditor-General of confirming whether public money has been spent lawfully and effectively requires multifaceted approaches including Citizen Participation in the audit process. Further, Section 34 of the Public Audit Act 2015 mandates the Auditor – General upon request or on own initiative, to conduct periodic proactive audits which are preventive and deterrent to fraud, corrupt practices, systemic and which are determined with a view of evaluating the effectiveness of risk management, control and governance processes in public entities.
Citizen participation is prescribed under Kenyan Constitution Article 10 which stipulates National Values and Principles of Governance. These values include public participation, accountability and service delivery to Citizens. Kenyan Citizens pay taxes and therefore have a right to be involved in governance and management of public resources.
The Office with support of partners has carried out two Citizen Accountability Audits. The first audit focused, on public participation in the County Budget making process as required by the Constitution, the Public Finance Management Act, 2012 and the County Government Act, 2012. The audit covered eighteen (18) out of the 47 Counties in the Country.
The report has been submitted to the Senate and relevant County Assemblies for discussion and implementation. The second audit focused on assessing legal compliance and effectiveness of Global fund programme, which provides interventions on HIV/AIDs, TB and Malaria diseases at the County level.
Further, in order to enhance Citizen Engagement in governance and accountability in the use of public resources, the Office of the Auditor- General is in the process of developing a mobile technology-based application which will enable Citizens to provide feedback to the Office on utilization of resources at the grass roots level. The technology will facilitate audit planning by providing information on areas of concern by the Citizens. It will also increase efficiencies in processing of audit reports.
The future of public audit oversight whether financial, performance or compliance audits is to involve Citizens and other stakeholders in ensuring accountability and prudent management of public resources. As the OAG, we are on course to achieving this.
The writer is the Director CAA Office of the Auditor General, Kenya [email protected]