As part of the DFID programme a study was initiated by the Department entitled “Social Accountability Mechanisms” which would explore ways and means of enhancing the ability of citizens (especially the poor and marginalized) to engage with public servants and politicians in a more informed, direct and constructive manner so that the services under the National Programmes were effectively delivered. The National Institute of Administrative Research (NIAR), a unit of Lal Bhadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) Mussoorie, was entrusted with the assignment for developing necessary generic tools/framework relating to Social Accountability which could also be adopted in various social sector schemes /programmes of the Government of India.

Social Accountability is an approach towards building accountability that relies on civic engagement i.e. in which its ordinary citizens and or civil society organizations who participate directly or indirectly are entitled to exact accountability. Social accountability initiatives derive from the core goals of promoting poverty reduction and effective and sustainable development. The three main arguments underlying the importance of social accountability are:

  1. governance;
  2. increased development effectiveness; and
  3. empowerment.

Social accountability mechanisms refer to a broad range of actions (beyond voting) that citizens, communities and civil society organizations can use to hold government officials accountable. These include citizen participation in public policy making, participatory budgeting, public expenditure tracking, citizen monitoring of public service delivery, advocacy campaigns etc. One of the key deliverables of the study was “How Social Accountability

Mechanisms could be mainstreamed into design and implementation of National Programmes?” The tool/framework developed were used to assess field realities of the two on going programmes viz. National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) in Kerala, Uttrakhand and Bihar to serve as an input in developing a generic social accountability framework with potential for application across various national programmes (which are in operation or would be designed) in the future. The tools designed by the NIAR included the following:-

  • Citizen Report Cards as a Social Audit Tool
  • Participatory Performance Monitoring Tool (PPMT)
  • Public Expenditure and Input Tracking Format (PRTIF)
  • Assessment of Infrastructure Development

NIAR has submitted its report, which has been examined and accepted by the Department. The study takes into account the failures in the present system relating to the National Rural Health Mission and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. It has also suggested the mechanism for institutionalizing social accountability. Briefly, the recommendations for policy design are as under: –

  • Decentralization
  • Information and awareness
  • Capacity Building and Mobilization
  • Grievance redressal
  • Social Accountability tools

 

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