Key findings: Transparency and accountability initiatives have generally tended to centre on achieving ‘downstream’ accountability, referring to the efficient delivery of policies and priorities. The focus here has been on the role of citizens in the implementation of policies. There has been insufficient exploration of how the incorporation of citizen voice and participation at earlier stages of these processes could have shaped the policies, priorities and budgets ‘upstream’, although some research points to the benefits of improving participation in ‘upstream’ processes.
This helpdesk research report outlines evidence and lessons learned concerning participation in transparency and accountability initiatives, focusing on budget processes (particularly participatory budget initiatives) and management of extractive industries. Regarding budget processes, two models have been identified in the literature: the New Public Management (NPM) paradigm and the society-centred approach. NPM introduces notions of transparency and accountability into the area of public administration in order to achieve good governance, whereas the society-centred approach focuses more on the society aspect of ‘state-society relations’. The emphasis here is on the autonomy and agency of grassroots movements and less on the importance of policymakers and public authorities who design and facilitate the process. Almost all of the cases profiled represent positive examples of participation being well-incorporated in initiatives and contributing to greater effectiveness in the achievement of developmental outcomes.
The report finds that many transparency and accountability initiatives tend to focus on process-driven outcomes, such as increasing the participation of civil society organisations, promoting disclosure of contracts and/or demanding greater revenue transparency. Most of the literature on extractives and natural resource management surveyed focuses on participation in the context of an established (global) mechanism, in particular the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Unlike the studies on budgetary processes, almost all of the cases profiled here represent negative examples of participation being poorly incorporated into initiatives and undermining effectiveness in the achievement of developmental outcomes.