The Journey of Citizen Participatory Audit
The Citizen Participatory Audit (CPA) project has indeed presented many opportunities for engagement and learning, and we at ANSA-EAP are proud to have been part of the mission to carry it out. We have shared the story, time and again, of how opening up process has not been that easy. In fact, it continues to present new challenges. Two years of partnership for the CPA project is testament to the time and energy that both government auditors and CSOs have invested into efforts to address their sometimes-opposing views and varying interests. It was a bold move on the part of COA to open the audit process to ordinary citizens in the first place! Civil society is equally courageous in accepting the audit challenge.
It is perhaps worth noting here a few lesson we learned that made the project work 1) partnerships between COA and CSOs strengthened both parties' oversight functions; 2) beyond consultation and joint audits, active exchange of knowledge and skills brought out more areas for collaboration; and 3) conversation with citizens helps to effectively shared audit agenda.
If there's one thing that the CPA project experienced made us realize about government-citizen relations, it is that the openness of government even of CSOs, cannot be automatically expected. It is an evolving process. From the kind which could be described as guarded openness, where everything had to be scrutinized and filtered according to certain persuasions, we saw how the relationship became structured, governed be agreements and protocols. There were moments when it became exploratory, seeking new ways to understand the whole arrangement and its future directions.
Best of all, everyone, at one point or another, also eventually became dynamically and spontaneously open like friends who share common dreams and aspirations. But these experiences alone in our efforts to contribute to good governance tell us how fruitful those two years for both COA and the civil society