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Social Audit and accountability

Social audit

Social Audit is the critical stock taking of any programme or scheme by the community with active involvement of the primary stakeholders. It includes audit of the quality of works being executed at different levels along with the details of disbursements made, the number of labourers employed and materials used. The people in coordination with local administration will conduct social audit.

Objective of social audit

The basic objective of social audit is to ensure public accountability in the implementation of projects, laws and policies.

Frequency of conduct of social audits

As per Para 25(c) of Schedule I social audit should be conducted at least once in every six months. As per Para 25(b) of Schedule I, concurrent social audit shall be done for all works every month.

Social audit facilitation

As per Rule 4 of Audit of Schemes Rules, 2011, “Social Audit Unit” (SAU) shall facilitates conduct of the Social Audit of MGNREGS works. Social Audit Unit shall identify train and deploy appropriate number of State Resource Persons (SRP), District Resource Persons (DRP), Block Resource Persons (BRP) and Village Resource Persons (VRP), to facilitate the Gram Sabha (GS) in conducting social audit.

Process of conducting social audit

  • The Social Audit Unit shall frame an annual calendar and a copy of the calendar shall be sent to all the DPCs for making necessary arrangements.
  • The labourers and the village community shall be informed about the Gram Sabha conducting social audit.
  • The Social Audit Team shall be provided by the PO, all the required information and records of all implementing agencies.
  • The resource persons deployed by Social Audit Unit, along with primary stakeholders shall verify all the documents, physically verify the works.
  • Gram Sabha shall be convened to discuss the findings of the verification. The Gram Sabha shall also provide a platform to all villagers to seek and obtain further information.
  • All the officials responsible for implementation must be present in the meeting to answer queries from the members of the Gram Sabha.
  • The DPC or his authorised representative shall supervise the Gram Sabha meeting.
  • The action taken report relating to the previous social audit shall be read out at the beginning of the meeting of each social audit by the Gram Sabha.
  • During the Social Audit all issues must be recorded in writing and evidence should be gathered. The entire proceeding of the Social Audit Gram Sabha shall be video recorded, and uploaded on website. The social audit reports shall be prepared in local language by the Social Audit Unit and must be displayed on the notice board of the Gram Panchayat for at least seven days.
  • All social audit reports will contain a list of grievances that require redressal and a separate list of social audit findings that require criminal investigation.
  • The Action Taken Report on the issues raised in the Gram Sabha shall be given to the Social Audit Unit and to the individuals whose grievance have been recorded in the report.

Roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in conduct of social audit

  1. Programme Officer - PO shall ensure that all the required information and records of all implementing agencies are properly collated in the requisite formats; and provided along with photocopies to the Social Audit Unit for facilitating conduct of social audit at least fifteen days in advance of the scheduled date of meeting of the GS.
  2. District Programme Coordinator : DPC shall ensure that all records for conduct of social audit are furnished to the Social Audit Unit by PO. Ensure that time-bound corrective action (including initiating criminal and civil proceedings or termination of services) is taken on the social audit report. Take steps to recover the amount improperly utilised and issue receipts or acknowledgements for amount so recovered.
  3. The Social Audit Unit :
    • Shall identify, train and deploy suitable resource persons at village, block, district and State level drawing from primary stakeholders and other civil society organisations having knowledge and experience of working for the rights of the people.
    • Will create awareness amongst the labourers about their rights and entitlements under the Act, and facilitate verification of records with primary stakeholders and worksites.
    • Shall be responsible to prepare social audit reporting formats, resource material, guidelines and manuals for the social audit process.
    • Facilitate verification of records with primary stakeholders and conduct door-to-door visits to meet beneficiaries of the MGNREGS and also physically verify the project sites and come out with detailed report.
    • Responsible to host the social audit reports including action taken reports in the public domain.
  4. The State Government : shall be responsible for follow-up action on the findings of the social audit.
  5. State Employment Guarantee Council : SEGC shall monitor the action taken by the State Government and incorporate the Action Taken Report in the annual report to be laid before the State Legislature by the State Government.
  6. Central Government : provide funds to meet the cost of establishing the Social Audit Unit. Cost of conducting social audit shall be met from administrative expenses.
  7. Central Employment Guarantee Council : CEGC shall monitor implementation of MGNREG Audit of Scheme Rules, 2011 and action taken on social audit reports and report the same in the Annual Report to be laid before the Parliament.

Structure of vigilance mechanism

All States should make arrangement for a three-tier vigilance mechanism:

  • State : At the State level, a Vigilance Cell consisting of a Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) should be set up. The CVO may be a senior government officer or a retired officer supported by at least two senior officials (serving or retired), one Civil Engineer and an Auditor.
  • District : At the district level, a Vigilance Cell will be set up. The cell will be headed by a district level officer and supported by an Engineer and an Auditor (of appropriate seniority). Engineer and Auditor may also be hired/appointed on contract
  • Local level (village) : At the local level, Vigilance and Monitoring Committee should consist of about ten members half of whom shall be women with representation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in proportion to their population. Members of the Vigilance and Monitoring Committee may be identified from among local school teachers, anganwadi workers, Self- Help Group members, Social Audit volunteers, members of various Community Based Organisations, user groups, youth clubs etc. The Vigilance and Monitoring Committee team should be appointed/nominated/elected by the Gram Sabha for a period of 6 months but not exceeding one year. The State Government may consider providing an honorarium to the members of the Vigilance and Monitoring Committee for the period of time that they are required to give every month.

Pro-active disclosure under MGNREGS

As per Para 25(a), Schdeule I, mandatory proactive disclosure of basic information to all common people and stakeholders using a ‘Janata Information System’ should consist of following:

  • Display at each worksite the ‘Janata’ estimate of the work – showing the details of the work, estimated labour days, quantities of materials to be used in local terminology and item-wise cost of the estimate.
  • Display on prominent walls or public boards in the village: job cards list, number of days of work provided and the wages paid to each job card holder; and entitlements provided under the Act.
  • Display through boards at the Gram Panchayat Office: shelf of projects approved, year-wise works taken up or completed by Gram Panchayats and Line Departments, employment provided, funds received and expenditure, list of materials with quantities used in each work, rates at which the material was procured.
  • Display on the website: The Ministry of Rural Development and the State Departments of Rural Development shall ensure that their websites are updated to fully comply with all the seventeen provisions of Section 4 (1) (b) of the Right to Information Act (22 of 2005) and all information about the Act is available in public domain, through free downloadable electronic form.

Procedures to be adopted for grievance redressal in MGNREGS

  • As per Para 35, Schedule II every worker should have an opportunity of being heard and register any grievance either orally or in writing, at all implementation levels for disposal as per the provisions of the Grievance Redressal Mechanism under the Scheme.
  • In compliance with Section 19 of MGNREGA, the State Governments shall, by rules, determine appropriate grievance redressal mechanisms at the Block level and the district level. The time lines for redressal of grievances should be consistent with the provisions of “Public Service Delivery Act” of the State, if any. If such an act does not exist, the timelines should be incorporated in the Grievance Redressal Rules.
  • Multiple modes to be included for registering the complainants like written complaints and through telephone help lines etc. All such complaints must be duly acknowledged with a dated receipt. Complaint boxes at the offices of the Programme Officers and District Programm Coordinators must be installed to facilitate submission of complaints. The complaint boxes shall be opened on a fixed date every week and record the list of all complaints received. This date will be considered the date of receipt of complaints for purpose of this Act. As specified in section 23(6) the Programme Officer shall dispose of all such complaints within a period of seven days including the redressal of the grievance and the delivery of the entitlement. Failure to dispose of a complaint in 7 days will be considered a contravention of the Act by the Programme Officer, punishable under Section 25. Whoever contravenes the provisions of this Act shall on conviction be liable to a fine which may extend to Rs.1000.
  • Complaints shall be entered in the complaint register and disposed within the statutory time limit. The complainants must also be informed of the action taken in writing through registered post with acknowledgement card. A system of appeal must be considered. State wide publicity must be made for grievance redressal at all levels. Monthly Reports on complaints received and disposed must be sent from Gram Panchayat to Programme Officer to District Programme Coordinator to State to Government of India. This should be placed on the website.
Source : FAQs of MGNREGA operational guidelines - 2013


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