Strengthening Public Accountability: Lessons from implementing social audits in Andhra Pradesh

By Yamini Aiyar, Soumya Kapoor Mehta, and Salimah Samji
29 November 2009

Public discourse in India has been dominated by a heated debate on how to address the endemic corruption in India’s public institutions. The agitation for the Lok Pal bill and the ensuing discussions has brought the role of anti-corruption institutions and accountability mechanisms to the heart of this debate. As potential solutions begin to emerge, it is important to reflect on current experience and take stock of lessons learned from India’s on-going efforts to build accountability systems and to address corruption. The key to designing an effective solution will lie in understanding the conditions under which solutions can work as well and the challenges they are likely to face.

This paper is an effort to contribute to this debate through an analysis of the experience of implementing one such accountability mechanism – social audits in the state of Andhra Pradesh (AP). Using Government Reported data on social audits and data collected through interviews with key government officials, this paper examines the accountability effects of regular, reliable institutionalized social audits in the state.