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Enhancing Accountability in Public Service Delivery through Social Audits: A case study of Andhra Pradesh, India

By: Ritesh Singh, Vinay Vutukuru

Over the last few years there has been a growing emphasis on the importance of enhancing accountability in public services by the government. There have been a large number of civil society and state-led initiatives which aim to facilitate the process of citizen engagement with the state, during planning, implementation and evaluation of government projects. Social audit is one such initiative and is a process through which government expenditure details at the local level (usually at the village level) are obtained and discussed in a public hearing attended by both the service providers and the people who have benefited from that particular government program.

The paper examines the effectiveness of social audit as a tool to enhance accountability by measuring the impact of social audit on the implementation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the flagship employment guarantee program of the Government of India, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods.

The main research questions addressed are: the impact of social audits on the size of the program and the payment process; are social audits results good indicators of the overall quality of program implementation; compare the performance of Karnataka, a neighbouring state, which has not taken up social audit, to Andhra Pradesh, in the overall implementation of the program; and the reasons behind the successful scale up of social audits in Andhra Pradesh.