PARTICIPATORY AUDIT: THE CCAGG EXPERIENCE - ANSA-EAP
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PARTICIPATORY AUDIT: THE CCAGG EXPERIENCE
Introduction: The Commission on Audit is a constitutional body that serves as the supreme audit institution of the Philippines. Its role in promoting public accountability is shown by its functions to audit all government agencies and instrumentalities including NGOs that received subsidy from and through the government. But there was also the call and encouragement of the Philippine Constitution of 1986 for people to form NGOs and POs to protect their welfare and the common good. In running their affairs, these NGOs and POs directly and indirectly promote public accountability and good governance. And so it happened that promoting honesty, integrity in public service and fighting graft and corruption, solely and formerly a domain of government, is now shared by the NGOs.
Following this development, a reform program “Enhancing the Public Accountability Program of the Philippine COA: Participatory Audit with Civic Society Organizations” was conceptualized by the COA, and NEDA and funded by the UNDP. In identifying and selecting the CSO partner, the COA and UNDP used the following criteria:
a)The CSO is actively doing work that promotes transparency and accountability in government; b)The CSO has members who possess qualifications that meet the skills of COA; c)The CSO will work with COA without pay for its services except payment for traveling, and appropriate per diems for days spent in the audit activity; and d)The CSO is willing to sign a MOA with COA containing the terms and conditions of both parties including willingness to work in accordance with COA’s prescribed Code of conduct.
The COA chose the Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Government (CCAGG) after a series of screening, assessment and evaluation activities. The Memorandum of Agreement which was signed provided that the Participatory Audit Project shall be implemented in the context of the COA reform program “as a way of promoting partnership and collaboration with civil society and enhancing public accountability”. The regional CR director, Dir Sabiniano Cabatuan as our Project Manager was tasked to ensure that the audits will be conducted according to the approved audit work plan. Audit team supervisors were responsible in preparing the audit work program. The CCAGG will join the conduct of audits with COA CAR in accordance with the audit work plan and shall ensure timely and effective delivery of the audit outputs assigned to them. The signing of the Memorandum of Agreement took place in an impressive ceremony at the COA Board Room of the central office. The COA Chair then was Hon. Celso Gangan. Commissioners Emmanuel Dalman and Raul Flores, and other officials of COA like Atty. Elizabeth Zosa, Atty. Isabel Agito , Ma’am Emma Espina and many more from UNDP and the media were present. Some CCAGG members and friends were there too.
You know that the CCAGG almost backed out of the partnership because of a provision in the MOA which run counter to what we are doing. CCAGG monitor government projects and provide feedback to the public after each monitoring trip. COA countered that there should be no premature disclosure of audit findings. NEDA even insisted that sufficient safeguard must be established in order to protect the confidentiality of public documents and information. Anyway, CCAGG understood the accountability mechanism which COA and NEDA were stressing and so we agreed on the point. After the signing of the MOA, COA and CCAGG sat to identify the trainings needs to prepared them for field work. The partners underwent joint trainings on the following: 1.Results Oriented Monitoring and Evaluation 2.Value for Money Audit (VFM) Concepts and Applications 3. Laws in the Conduct of Audit 4.Infrastructure Audit 5.Fraud Audits 6.Audit Evidences
Aside from these trainings, there were also team buildings, numerous meetings and orientations led by the COA CAR Regional Director and Project Manager of Participatory Audit, Sir Sabiniano Cabatuan. Dir. Cabatuan was very optimistic both on the partnership and the result of the participatory audit. He once said to the team “Trust the auditors and help each other, pinpoint responsibility, be vigilant on the external forces. CCAGG planted the first seed, it is now up to COA and the public to nurture this seed, very few are buying the concept of Participatory Audit. We are now the first buyers”. The COA in collaboration with the NEDA, UNDP and CCAGG decided to use the value for money audit. The choice of this form of audit was prompted by the observation that VFM is very relevant to the thrust of the government to promote transparency, people empowerment and enhancement of public accountability.
Participatory Audit was conducted in 23 road projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DENR) and ten Soil Conservation and Watershed Management Program of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (IDENR). What were done in Abra were replicated in Camarines Norte with the National Urban Poor Assembly (NUPA) and in Mountain Province with the Social Action Development Center (SADC). The experiment partnership of COA, CCAGG, NUPA and SADC was a success. A manual on Participatory Audit was even written. During its launching, Mr. Guillermo Carague, the COA Chairman said that the audits were very focused and efficient. Mr. Terrence Jones, the Resident Representative of the UNDP also said that the PA is a leading innovation for a Government and a Civil Society Collaboration towards the enhancement of accountability and transparency in public affairs. He further said that the constructive partnership between them in the area of audit has elicited much interest from the international community. For the CCAGG, the biggest gain derived from the PA is the realization that Civil Society Organizations are just as sincere, competent and effective as government auditors in safeguarding the scarce government resources and that CSOs can complement the work of government auditors in spite of the misgivings of some politicians.
Training of Audit Teams
@ Villa La Maja Hotel In Baguio City
Signing of MOA
Launching of the Manual on Participatory Audit
Launching of the Manual on Participatory Audit
On-site visit to DENR Projects and Community Meetings
Site monitoring of DPWH Projects