Social accountability is an obligation and responsibility on the part of the government to be answerable to the citizens for its actions. Accountability of government officials is a cornerstone and a must for ensuring good governance.
There are different methods and tools of social accountability.
Components of social accountability practice include collection, analysis and dissemination of information, mobilisation of public support, advocacy and negotiation for change.
Social audit is a tool for social accountability and transparency.
The seven main principles of social accountability can be summarised as follows:
The Government of India commitment to accountability is visible in the set of framed rules and regulations called "Audit of Scheme Rules 2011" under the sub-section (1) of section 24, of the MGNREGA 2005. This section guides the process through which social audits need to be undertaken in the context of the MGNREGS, one of the largest public works programme in the world.
The following is an example that shows how social accountability principles can be applied in monitoring social programmes like MGNREGS.
In case of MGNREGS, it is the responsibility of the block office to ensure that job-cardholders get employment within 15 days of demand application. If the administration fails to provide employment within this time period, workers are eligible for unemployment allowance, non payment of which can lead to action being taken against the concerned officials.
To ensure that effective social accountability processes are put in place, community members must have access to information, they must participate in monitoring exercises, their rights as citizens must be secured, a platform must be created for their voices to be heard, timely action must be taken on complaints made by them and reports produced through such exercises must be widely disseminated.
Transparency and accountability features