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Afghanistan

Mechanism of Public Partnership in Inspection Process (AF0001)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Afghanistan Action Plan 2017-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2017

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: High Inspection Office

Support Institution(s): Public Accounting Commission at Lower House and World Bank, Civil society organizations and media

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Media & Telecommunications, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Afghanistan Design Report 2017-2019

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?: Lack of public participation in the inspection processes has lowered transparency, accountability and public access to information, and undermined public oversight over performance of governmental entities. This situation may pave the ground for corruption, challenging delivery of public services. In absence of public oversight over inspection processes, there are chances that facts are concealed based on conspiracy and compromise between inspectors and authorities under inspection. This eventually increases corruption and undermines public service delivery.; What is the commitment?: High Inspection Office has previously developed a mechanism for public partnership in the inspection process without the involvement of media and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). However, as demanded by CSOs in the consultative meetings of Open Governance Partnership-Afghanistan, the office committed to revising, finalizing and implementing the mentioned mechanism in partnership with CSOs. This mechanism has not been implemented as civil society organizations and media were not involved in its formulation. Revision of the mechanism with the participation of civil society organizations and media will enrich the mechanism and facilitates its implementation. It is expected that implementation of this mechanism ensure public oversight over inspection process, enhancing transparency and accountability in public service delivery to minimize chances of corruption.; How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?: Revision and implementation of this mechanism would enable CSOs and media to participate in the process. Once the commitment is implemented, the mentioned organizations will become part of the process through having oversight over government performance. Additionally, with the implementation of this commitment, training courses will be held for a number of representatives from CSOs and media on their part in the joint inspection process. These courses will enhance their capacities to actively participate in the joint inspection processes during and after the implementation of the mechanism in question. Implementation of this commitment is expected to prevent inspectors and authorities under inspection from any compromise over concealing facts in major cases. This will eventually enhance transparency and accountability in public service through restricting chances of corruption.; Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?: This commitment has relevancy with different values of Open Government Partnership. First, once put into practice, the mentioned mechanism will ensure public participation in inspection processes. Second, engagement of CSOs and media in the inspection processes will result in enhanced transparency and accountability in government’s activities.; Additional information: The necessary fund for implementing this commitment is provided through a World Bank-supported project in Afghanistan, i.e. Fiscal Support Performance (FSP), for a period of four years. This commitment is consistent with Afghanistan Peace and Development Framework and IP-ARTF as one of the benchmarks of World Bank

IRM Midterm Status Summary

1. Revising and Implementing the Mechanism of Public Partnership in Inspection Process

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“High Inspection Office has previously developed a mechanism for public partnership in the inspection process without the involvement of media and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). However, as demanded by CSOs in the consultative meetings of Open Governance Partnership-Afghanistan, the office committed to revising, finalizing and implementing the mentioned mechanism in partnership with CSOs.

This mechanism has not been implemented as civil society organizations and media were not involved in its formulation. Revision of the mechanism with the participation of civil society organizations and media will enrich the mechanism and facilitates its implementation. It is expected that implementation of this mechanism ensure public oversight over inspection process, enhancing transparency and accountability in public service delivery to minimize chances of corruption.”

Milestone activities and verifiable deliverables
  • Holding three joint meetings with CSOs and media in order to revise, scrutinize and approve the mechanism of public partnership in the inspection process.
  • One final publication reflecting civil society and media perspectives, suggestions, recommendations and final decisions on the scrutinized inspection process accessible.
  • Essential administrative structures established by High Inspection Office (HIO). 3 training sessions conducted on the implementation of the mechanism by HIO for their employees who will be upholding the structures established.
  • Holding two awareness-raising seminars on issues related to the CSOs and media participation in the inspection processes. Make a compilation of the awareness-raising seminars in one video available online
  • Formulating an Authorities Inspection Plan based on a risk assessment practice both of which are conducted with the participation of CSOs and media according to public partnership mechanism
  • Conduct 7 inspections based on the Authorities Inspection Plan

Start Date:  January 2018

End Date:  August 2019

Editorial Note: This is a partial version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text from the Afghanistan National Action Plan, see:: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/commitment/01-mechanism-of-public-partnership-inspection-process

Context and Objectives

This commitment aims to revise and implement the Citizens’ Participation Mechanism [1] in the inspection process of auditing government finances. It aims for this process to be conducted together with CSOs and media to ensure transparency and accountability of public finances.

The Supreme Audit Office (SAO) [2] is the highest authority in the country that controls and audits the finances of the central and state governments in relation to their resources and expenditures. The Law on the Supreme Audit Office (2013) establishes responsibilities of the SAO as the principal guarantor of financial transparency of state agencies as well as control and oversight of such resources. [3] In 2016, the SAO developed a framework for public participation of auditing government finances, but did not involve CSOs and the media in developing that process. [4]

The commitment is relevant for OGP value of civic participation as it opens up opportunities for CSOs and the media to take part in formulating the Authorities Inspection Plan and participating in audits of public finances. The Authorities Inspection Plan covers seven audit performances that government officials together with CSOs and media will perform. [5] In addition, through its website, SAO intends to give the public the opportunity to express views and concerns on public audits. The commitment aims to raise public awareness on the inspection process and a compilation of the awareness raising seminars will become available online in a video to reach wider population with the information on how to participate in the public oversight of the inspection process and is thus relevant to the OGP value of access to information.

This is the first time SAO has committed to involve civil society and media in the auditing process, which is a commendable development. Afghanistan provides few opportunities for the public to engage in budget or auditing process, scoring 15 out of 100, where scoring about 60 is considered to provide adequate opportunities for the public to participate. [6] Additionally, according to the World Bank’s Global Indicators of Regulatory Governance, Afghan ministries and agencies do not solicit comments on proposed regulations from the general public. [7] While some details of various elements (mandate and composition of the proposed administrative structure within SAO) could be clearer, if fully implemented, this commitment could change the practice of conducting audits in a more participatory and accountable way. Given the low baselines for public participation and government engaging civil society in policy making in Afghanistan, this commitment could have a transformative potential impact as it aims to engage CSOs in performing audits with an expansive scope of applicable public sectors that could include the Parliament, the Ministries, the President’s Office, the public construction section and so on. [8]

Next steps

This commitment represents an important undertaking for making the audit processes participatory and more accountable. The IRM researcher recommends continuing this commitment in the next action plan and to consider the following elements for strengthening it:

  • A future commitment could more clearly articulate what happens beyond the public’s involvement in the audit inspection process. An accountability mechanism and penalties for noncompliance could be stipulated where the public could compel the government to respond with a change in practice to complaints or recommendations received.
  • As per CSOs’ suggestion, a complementary action to take outside the framework of OGP could be to develop a policy and mechanism for social audit. Social audit refers to the auditing process, lead by CSOs and the public, of government’s public plans and performances, which have direct implication on citizens’ lives. [9]
[1] High Inspection Office (2018). Citizens’ Participation Mechanism in the Inspection Process. Accessed on October 8, 2018, from http://sao.gov.af/Content/files/میکانیزم%20مشارکت%20عامه%20در%20روند%20تفتیش.pdf
[2] Although at the time of the drafting of the action plan this commitment fell under the leadership of the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption (HOOAC), since February 2018, HOOAC has merged with the Attorney General’s Office (AGO). This commitment therefore currently falls under the mandate of the Supreme Audit Office (SAO).
[3] High Inspection Office. (2013). Law of the High Inspection Office (in Dari and Pashto). Accessed on October 8, 2018, from http://sao.gov.af/Content/files/Pocket%20Book.pdf
[4] Personal interview, Director of Policy and Planning, Supreme Audit Office, 27 October 2018, Kabul.
[5] Information on the Authorities Inspection Plan was communicated to the IRM researcher via e-mail, dated 28 January 2019, by the government official who is in charge of implementing this commitment.
[7] Rulemaking.worldbank.org/en/data/explorecountries/Afghanistan#
[8] Personal interview, Director of Policy and Planning, Supreme Audit Office, 27 October 2018, Kabul.
[9] Annex B. (n.d.). Analysis and critique of the commitments prepared by the Secretariat. (This document was made available to the IRM researcher by Integrity Watch Afghanistan).

Commitments

  1. Mechanism of Public Partnership in Inspection Process

    AF0001, 2017, Capacity Building

  2. Law on Processing, Publishing and Enforcing Legislative Documents

    AF0002, 2017, Legislation & Regulation

  3. Courts to Address Violence Against Women

    AF0003, 2017, Gender

  4. Public-Police Partnership Councils

    AF0004, 2017, Capacity Building

  5. Registering Assets of Government Officials

    AF0005, 2017, Asset Disclosure

  6. Scheme for Establishing Health Service Accreditation Entity

    AF0006, 2017, Capacity Building

  7. Urban Improvement National Policy

    AF0007, 2017, Infrastructure & Transport

  8. Protection Policy for Women Under Conflict and Emergency Situations

    AF0008, 2017, Gender

  9. Civil Society Monitoring Plan for Education and Higher Education

    AF0009, 2017, Education

  10. Plan for the Establishment of a Joint Committee Overseeing the Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy

    AF0010, 2017, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  11. Strengthen the Information Mechanism in 60 Governmental Agencies

    AF0011, 2017, Capacity Building

  12. Implementing Open Contracting

    AF0012, 2017, E-Government

  13. Public Participation in Road Network Projects

    AF0013, 2017, Infrastructure & Transport