Performance audits and quarterly financial statements are universally acknowledged as essential mechanisms and criteria of and for progress. The Corporate sector, NGOs, CBOs and civil society have not only embraced the concept but also used it as the basis of performance measurement and the foundation of good governance. Governments too need to embrace this concept and practice it.
With this objective, the Public Record of Operations and Finance (PROOF) campaign was launched in Bangalore (India) in July 2002, by four NGOs, namely: Public Affairs Centre, Janaagraha, Centre for Budget and Policy Studies, and Voices. PROOF, an emerging tool to encourage transparency at the local level, will enable government and citizens to work together and ensure that public money is being used for public good. PROOF is a campaign for transparency in municipal governance, conducted in close partnership with the local government.
The main purposes of PROOF are:
- To provide an efficient and effective framework for regular performance reporting by local governments.
- To significantly reduce the opportunities for maladministration and financial misappropriation in municipal councils and other public agencies.
In addition, PROOF aims to build or improve overall public confidence in the government systems.
Linkage to Transparency
PROOF requires that municipal finances related to public services are published and scrutinised by organized groups and the general public at large. The flow of such information into the public domain allows for transparency in the financial dealings of the municipal authority. The intended scrutiny by the organized groups further enhances this transparency as it ensures that public money is used for the benefit of the public.
How it works – The key elements
PROOF is a new and emerging tool which has been tested in only one city – Bangalore (India). It is an extremely simple tool contingent upon one key factor – the will of the local government to share information with stakeholders. The tool focuses on three areas: obtaining quarterly financial statements from the government, developing performance indicators to assess municipal undertakings across the city, and public discussions.
Obtaining municipal financial statements. Obtaining such records from the institution concerned for the period under scrutiny is the first step in the process. These statements comprise:
Revenue and Expenditure Statement compared to original Budget figures.
Indicative Balance Sheet, with detailed information about current and long term assets in addition to short and long term liabilities.
Performance Indicators. These could be developed for all major key areas of local government responsibility. In Bangalore, two sectors were initially chosen as focus areas:
Education: Assessing performance of Bangalore schools.
Health: Assessing performance of the City's Government hospitals.
Public Analysis and Management discussion. This includes an open discussion about:
Discussion of selected activities
The PROOF campaign emphasises the sharing of full and accurate performance information. Each review serves as an opportunity to bring financial accountability and performance into the public space. However, these reviews are also catalysts in a larger process of bringing government and public closer together. Furthermore, each review also acts as a benchmark and provides the basis to develop and reshape public expenditure priorities. As also observed by FCM, "measurement systems that are meant to help determine expenditures reflect a deeper desire to increase public confidence in government."
Monitoring Financial Performance of the City Corporation in Bangalore
Further information and contacts
5 First Floor, 9th Cross, 1st Stage, Indiranagar,
Bangalore 560 038, India.
Tel: +91-80-5213902/03; Fax: +91-80-5213901
Notes and references
- Federation of Canadian Municipalities (2003) op. cit.