A guide to conducting social audits

Social Audits are now widely accepted as an important mechanism to address corruption and strengthen accountability in government service delivery. The process took root with the launch of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in 2005 (since renamed the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or MGNREGA) which mandates the regular conduct of social audits of works sanctioned under MGNREGA in the gram sabha at least once every six months. However, remarkably little is known about the nature and form of social audits in MGNREGA, how they are conducted, the institutional architecture needed for undertaking audits of this scale, and the challenges faced.

This paper is an attempt to address this gap. It does so by documenting the process through which social audits are conducted in the state of Andhra Pradesh. We chose Andhra Pradesh (AP) as a case study since it is the only state government in the country to have formally institutionalized social audits. It thus holds important lessons on ‘how to’ conduct social audits which could be useful for states interested in institutionalizing social audits. This paper draws on AP’s experience to identify key design principles that need to be considered when developing an institutional architecture for implementing social audits of this nature.   



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