14, November, 2011
BRIEF

The Latin American Approach to Improving Public Spending Oversight

To enhance oversight of public spending, Latin American countries strengthened their Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs), including by involving citizens in their monitoring efforts. As a result, SAIs have recovered large sums of money and thousands of citizens now participate actively in the auditing process.

In the last few decades, Latin American (LA) countries have increased oversight of public spending by strengthening Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs), including by implementing social control mechanisms to increasingly involve citizens in monitoring efforts. These reforms help ensure public funds are spent according to the law, on the policies for which they were designated, and in a way that makes a concrete impact. This brief analyses the implementation of these reforms in the region, focusing on their design, outcomes, and lessons learned for South Asian and African contexts.

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Key Lessons:

  • Effective reforms focused on SAIs' autonomy, technical and financial capacity, and enforcement mandate.
  • Expanding the scope for monitoring spending from merely complying with designation to actually achieving impact is both possible and effective.
  • LA SAIs used creative mechanisms to assure citizen participation, thereby improving the quality of oversight, but certain conditions seem key to success.

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