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To ensure accountability in delivery of schemes, govt sets up audit panel

  • Published
    9th Jan, 2023
Context

The Rajasthan government has set up a Social and Performance Audit Authority (SPAA) to ensure accountability in the delivery of government schemes and programmes.

Background:

  • Under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA) which enshrined social audits in the Act, the first step is to gather all the records regarding the scheme such as muster rolls, maintained by the administration collected and pored over.
  • Based on these readings, surveys are prepared and social auditors administer the surveys across the geographical area of the audit and also conduct spot inspections.

What does social audit mean?

  • “Social Audit is the examination and assessment of a programme/scheme conducted with the active involvement of people and comparing official records with actual ground realities. Social Audit is a powerful tool for social transformation, community participation and government accountability.”
 About the Social and Performance Audit Authority (SPAA):
  • Administered by: The Secretary, Finance (Expenditure) in the state has made the Commissioner of the authority.
  • Under SPAA, audits of government schemes will be undertaken on two counts: social and performance.
  • The social audit will be undertaken along the lines of the social audit in MGNREGA. 
  • Requirements:
  • The social audit does not necessarily require high qualifications of the resource persons, who will be empanelled as per requirement and paid on a per-day basis.
  • For the performance audit, SPAA will engage personnel from Valuation Wing under the Planning Department as well as the Department of Treasuries and Accounts, with the latter reportedly having excess personnel, among others.
  • Post the social and performance audit, the auditors will file a report online.
  • The Audit Management System (AMS) under the Local Fund Audit Department (LFAD) will be customised for audit reports under SPAA.
  • Significance: It will ensure transparency, public participation, public satisfaction and quality along with accountability in public welfare schemes of the state government.

Constitutional provision regarding audit:

  • Article 148 - Comptroller and Auditor-General of India
    • The Comptroller and Auditor-General shall perform such duties and exercise such powers in relation to the accounts of the Union and of the States and of any other authority or body as may be prescribed by or under any law made by Parliament.
  • Article 151 - Audit Reports
    • The reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India relating to the accounts of the Union shall be submitted to the president, who shall cause them to be laid before each House of Parliament.
    • The reports of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India relating to the accounts of a State shall be submitted to the Governor of the State, who shall cause them to be laid before the Legislature of the State.

Who can conduct a social audit?

  • The Department of Rural Development in states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Meghalaya has set up its Society for Social Audit and Transparency which are autonomous institutions that conduct social audits of the MGNREG Scheme.
  • This is in furtherance of the Social Audit Manual of the Ministry of Rural Development which requires every State to set up an independent Social Audit Unit consisting of resource persons from the State, District and Village as well as experts on relevant themes.
  • Social audits are conducted in partnership with civil society organisations, with auditors emerging from among scheme beneficiaries, who are trained over a period of time on how to conduct a social audit. Since awareness generation is an important component of these audits, it becomes necessary to have conduits that can be relied upon to transfer factually correct information.

Other related Initiatives:

  • The Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act, 2017: Meghalaya became the first state in India to operationalize a law that makes social audits of government programmes and schemes a part of government practice.
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