The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) is a people’s act in several senses. It empowers ordinary people to play an active role in the implementation of employment guarantee schemes through gram sabhas, social audits, participatory planning and other means.
Social audit is an intrinsic part of the act. Along with the usual physical and financial audit, the social audit has been identified as a measure for ensuring transparency and accountability. The social audit should be carried out by user groups and village communities who can take the help of civil society organisations. However, before starting the social audit process a lot of preliminary work has to be done.
Pre-conditions for a successful social audit
The first step in a successful social audit is making people fully aware about the process. Maximum participation of all beneficiaries and stakeholders is essential. Bringing people from diverse castes and classes together is a major challenge. Representative committees and user groups can be formed to represent public interest at different levels.
People must be intimated sufficiently in advance so that they can take part in the process. All relevant material must be compiled and made available to the public in a user-friendly form. People should be made aware about the sources of information. All collected documents should be made available in local languages. Instructions for participants must be simple and understandable.
While planning meetings, the convenience and availability of people should be taken into consideration. A conducive environment should be created for meetings so that people from different sections of society are able to participate fearlessly and willingly.
Participation of government officials concerned in the meetings should be encouraged so that public demands are properly addressed.