Do social audits improve public service delivery?

Social audits and MGNREGA delivery: Lessons from Andhra Pradesh

Speaker: Prof. Farzana Afridi, Indian Statistical Institute
Discussants: Yamini Aiyar, Accountability Initiative, Centre for Policy Research
Neelakshi Mann, M&E Officer, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India
Date: 21 February, 3-5.30 p.m.
Venue: Indian Statistical Institute Auditorium, 7, Sansanwal Marg, New Delhi - 1100 016

Social audits are known to be low-cost and powerful participatory tools to bolster awareness and improve public service delivery. But what have the audits achieved? 

A study by Farzana Afridi and Vegard Iversen uses a unique panel data set assembled from official social audit reports to look at the impact of audits on programme irregularities and employment generation during the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in Andhra Pradesh. 

The study finds a positive but insignificant impact of audits on employment generation. A modest decline in complaints related to non-availability of work and in the leakage amount per labour related irregularity is also evident. There is evidence suggesting beneficiary learning from audit participation and of audit effectiveness in detecting irregularities.

In contrast, the impact of repeated audits in deterring irregularities were mostly absent, and highlight the need for a time bound process where transgressors are punished and responsibilities for follow up of social audit findings are laid out and credibly enforced.

Prof. Afridi will be presenting the findings from the study.

Download Farzana Afridi's presentation (672.0 KB)

Download Yamini Aiyar's presentation (766.4 KB)

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