Thematic Areas

Public Service Accountability

PSA - Public service financing accountability

PSA - Public service financing accountability

Financing and providing basic public services for all citizens is the responsibility of the state. The state must have sufficient sustainable public resources to finance these services. However, public service financing is not only about generating as much money as possible, it’s also about justice and equity in terms of collection and distribution of resources. 

The budget is the most important economic policy document of a country or district. It is the fiscal representation of government plans and goals. Budgets show how much the government (local or national) intends to spend, how much income it should raise from taxes and licenses and how much money is transferred from state or regional budgets to the local level.

There are four key phases to the budget cycle and there are different opportunities for engagement at each stage:

  1. Formulation - Local government is responsible for consulting with people about priorities in their area and about the draft budget. Civil society should meet before the consultation to agree on these priorities.
  2. Approval - It’s important that members of civil society are able to access, understand, analyse and question the final budget. In countries where there are no freedom of information laws this can be very difficult. 
  3. Implementation - Civil society should be able to follow up on whether the funds are being released in accordance with the budget.
  4. Monitoring - At this stage, civil society action focuses on monitoring the budget process, checking that money has been released and spent on the right things at the right time.

Politicians and governments often make promises to improve conditions but these promises are undermined in practice because of inadequate funding, poor targeting or misappropriation of resources. It’s important that poor and marginalised people understand how public services are financed and are able to hold duty bearers to account. 

Participatory tools can be used to support people to track local and national budgets, engage in budget formulation processes, build their economic literacy and hold governments to account for how they manage public money. Coordinated action should lead governments to allocate more resources for public services which prioritise women and excluded communities.

Participatory tools to support accountability in public service financing



Here you can download some useful resources.

Tools in this toolbox

Citizens' budget

To share information about a budget in a clear and simple way. Budgets reports are often very long and written in complicated tec…

Income and expenditure pie chart

To analyse the relative allocation of an individual or organisation's income on different categories of expenditure. It is a part…

Leaky pot

To explore how governments lose revenue through tax avoidance and corruption. This image of a leaking pot is used to support part…

Monitoring Matrix of Local Fees and Taxes

This tool has been developed to support community organizations, district platforms and local communities to follow the process o…

Participatory expenditure tracking

To track the flow of public resources through different levels of government. Information is gathered from the central, local and…

Public services map

To analyse the state of a public service (e.g. education) and the impacts on local people, and to analyse and prioritise the most…

Social audit

To collect and present evidence about a programme or service.                               The Social Audit process uses partici…

The tax stones

To introduce the idea of tax systems that help the poor (tax justice), to explore links between paying taxes and having services,…

Transparency board

To share information about government or NGO projects and programmes.Transparency Boards are used to share information about proj…