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Philippines

CSO Engagement in Public Audit (PH0033)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Philippines National Action Plan 2015-2017

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Commission on Audit

Support Institution(s): Audit clients, i.e. National, Local and Corporate government offices and Department of Budget and Management. Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP)

Policy Areas

Anti Corruption and Integrity, Audits, Democratizing Decision-Making, Social Accountability

IRM Review

IRM Report: Philippines End-of-Term Report 2015-2017, Philippines Mid-Term Progress Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Major Major

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

A weak public finance management system leads to the inefficient and ineffective use of public funds. This results to unresponsive government projects that constrain the achievement of national development goals and outcomes. The main objective of CPA is to strengthen and sustain the engagement of citizens and COA in participatory audits. The Phase II of the CPA program intends to scale-up the implementation of CPA nationwide. This will be done through the roll out of participatory audit of farm-to-market roads in all regions of the country and institutionalization of this process. Relevance - Transparency – by including citizens as part of the public audit process, COA systems and processes are made transparent by giving citizen partners the same access to documents as state auditors. Audit reports are also widely disseminated through the COA website (www.coa.gov.ph) and the i-kwenta website (www.i- kwenta.com).
Accountability – Putting in place the CPA Operational Guidelines provides a clear accountability system for both COA and its citizen partners. As part of the horizontal accountability system, COA (and its citizen partners) can check abuses by other public institutions and branches of government, particularly in determining whether public funds have been efficiently allocated and properly expended.
Participation – Under CPA, several avenues for citizen participation are introduced. Oftentimes, citizen partners have the ability to influence the tools used during data gathering activities. During the audit report writing, both COA and its citizen partners work on it together, thereby ensuring that the recommendations identified in the audit report include those of the citizens and state auditors.
Technology and Innovation - The Public Information System ensures that feedback from the public is received by COA. Ambition - By institutionalizing CPA in COA, citizen voice in government oversight systems will be magnified. It is expected that government agencies will take heed and provide the appropriate responses to enhance their own systems and processes. Eventually, the desired outcome would be a better public finance management system that ensures the efficient allocation and expenditure of public funds based on projects that are responsive to the needs and priorities of the people.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

5. CSO engagement in public audit

Commitment Text:

A weak public finance management system leads to the inefficient and ineffective use of public funds. This results to unresponsive government projects that constrain the achievement of national development goals and outcomes. The main objective of CPA is to strengthen and sustain the engagement of citizens and COA in participatory audits. The Phase II of the CPA program intends to scale-up the implementation of CPA nationwide. This will be done through the rollout of participatory audit of farm-to-market roads in all regions of the country and institutionalization of this process.

Relevance:

· Transparency – by including citizens as part of the public audit process, COA systems and processes are made transparent by giving citizen partners the same access to documents as state auditors. Audit reports are also widely disseminated through the COA website (www.coa.gov.ph) and the i-kwenta website (www.i- kwenta.com).

· Accountability – Putting in place the CPA Operational Guidelines provides a clear accountability system for both COA and its citizen partners. As part of the horizontal accountability system, COA (and its citizen partners) can check abuses by other public institutions and branches of government, particularly in determining whether public funds have been efficiently allocated and properly expended.

· Participation – Under CPA, several avenues for citizen participation are introduced. Oftentimes, citizen partners have the ability to influence the tools used during data gathering activities. During the audit report writing, both COA and its citizen partners work on it together, thereby ensuring that the recommendations identified in the audit report include those of the citizens and state auditors.

· Technology and Innovation - The Public Information System ensures that feedback from the public is received by COA.

· Ambition - By institutionalizing CPA in COA, citizen voice in government oversight systems will be magnified. It is expected that government agencies will take heed and provide the appropriate responses to enhance their own systems and processes. Eventually, the desired outcome would be a better public finance management system that ensures the efficient allocation and expenditure of public funds based on projects that are responsive to the needs and priorities of the people.

Responsible institution: Commission on Audit

Supporting institution(s): Audit clients, i.e. National, Local and Corporate government offices and Department of Budget and Management. Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP)

Start date: 1 January 2015

End date: 31 December 2017

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to strengthen the Citizen Participation Audit (CPA) project and institutionalize citizen participation in public audit to support the Commission on Audit (COA), the constitutionally-mandated auditing body. Building and strengthening CPA has been a commitment in the Philippine national action plan from the beginning. The effort has won an OGP award. In the third action plan, the deliverables intended to sustain and expand CPA through the passage of policies to adopt and support CPA, conducting of CPA activities, and capacity building and mobilization of CSO citizen auditors.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

By the midterm, substantial progress had been made toward completing this commitment. COA has undertaken numerous capacity building activities related to strengthening CPA. COA had published two CPA reports and another 15 reports were being finalized. From June 2015 to August 2016, nine CSOs were trained and deployed as citizen auditors. With regards to sustainability and scaling up efforts, CPA was given a regular budget under the General Appropriations Act and expanded coverage of government offices that it audited (e.g. CPA of solid waste management covering all cities and municipality of Metro Manila).[Note: Thank you to new/ additional information provided by COA in commenting on earlier draft of the Progress Report.] The only deliverable pending completion was the adoption of CPA policies.

End of term: Complete

All the deliverables of this commitment have been completed. The finable deliverables pending have now been completed including the inclusion of CPA in the Strategic Plan of COA from 2016-2022 and the drafting of CPA Strategy and Audit Technique[Note: PH-OGP. End of Term Self-Assessment Report. October 2017.] institutionalize and operationalize CPA. According to the end-of-term self-assessment report, positive progress has been made on the number of CPA activities, capacity building activities, CPA reports published, and CSO monitors trained and mobilized.[Note: Ibid.] CPA reports are accessible online through the COA website.[Note: Commision of Audit, Citizens Participation Reports https://www.coa.gov.ph/index.php/reports/citizen-participatory-audit-reports.]

Did It Open Government?

Public Accountability: Major

CPA has supported COA to perform its mandate of ensuring accountability for public resources, promoting transparency, and helping to improve government operations. Public auditing in the Philippines has been challenged by insufficient resources (there are approximately 7,000 state auditors expected to audit 61,000 government agencies)[Note: Citizen Participatory Audit in the Philippines. http://iniciativatpa.org/2012/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/CPA-case-study.pdf. ] and a lack of concrete support from the public, which would sharpen the impact of its audit findings and recommendations. CPA has become a platform for citizens to participate and become deputized as public auditors, thereby acting as a force-multiplier in the audit process. The direct involvement of citizens has led to positive gains: it checks whether projects are beneficial to citizens and those being audited have been found to be more receptive of audit recommendations when citizens are part of the audit team.[Note: Commission on Audit. Written Response to IRM Questionnaire. ] Furthermore, the COA has noticed that auditees have implemented recommendations faster, sometimes even before the receipt of the final audit reports.[Note: Commission on Audit. Written Response to IRM Questionnaire.]

ANSA-EAP has also underscored the conclusion that involving citizens has made agencies are more open to audits and more likely to implement changes based on audit findings. This has subsequently prompted a timelier response from the government.[Note: ANSA-EASP comment on the earlier draft of the Progress Report.] Finally, the CPA reports are an additional source of information for the public, especially those interested in government performance. While the impact of audit reports on agencies’ performance, and in deterring corruption or inefficiencies, has yet to be studied systematically, this commitment has provided new opportunities for CSOs to participate in the audit process and has served as a mechanism to generate a response from those being audited.

Carried Forward?

The commitment has been carried forward in the national action plan. Its focus is to improve the CPA policies based on experience, conduct CPA dialogues with the data gathered to be used as inputs in the COA’s strategic planning, plan audit activities, and evaluate agency implementation of audit recommendations.


Commitments

Open Government Partnership