Social accountability has received increasing attention across the development community in recent years. Many factors—including the proliferation of new information and communications technologies—are changing how citizens and civil society organizations (CSOs) engages with governments; and many governments are creating better enabling environments for voice, transparency, and accountability.

Accountability is the cornerstone of good governance – and this kind of engagement, also referred to as social accountability, enables civil society to engage with policymakers and service providers to bring about greater accountability for and responsiveness to citizens' needs.

However, there is evidence that shows that there are large knowledge and evidence gaps, especially in terms of “what works” and why, under what conditions approaches can be scaled up, and how to sustain successful approaches. Moreover, CSOs often operate on short programmatic funding cycles, and they lack the sustained support to build technical and institutional capacity to engage with governments over the long term on selected themes. The GPSA works with the intention to respond to these demands.

To do this, the GPSA works in two interlinked program areas: funding and knowledge.

Through the Funding Component, grants are available to CSOs (and networks of CSOs) working in countries that have 'opted-in' to the GPSA. These grants focus on the institutional development of CSOs working on social accountability, and on knowledge generation and dissemination activities. Grants are intended to support specific programs and initiatives, aiming to:

  1. Address critical governance and development problems through social accountability processes that involve citizen feedback and participatory methodologies geared towards helping governments and public sector institutions solve these problems. Special emphasis is put on problems that directly affect extreme poor and marginalized populations.

  2. Strengthen civil society's capacities for social accountability by investing in CSOs' institutional strengthening and through mentoring of small, nascent CSOs by well-established CSOs with a track record on social accountability.

Our Knowledge Component offers a global space for facilitating the advancement of knowledge and learning on social accountability by leveraging the knowledge and learning generated through the GPSA-supported grants. Through our resources (working papers, think pieces and learning notes), our events (Forums, conferences, roundtables, brown bag lunches) and our online Knowledge Platform – an online platform for knowledge exchange and research – the GPSA works to foster constructive engagement for solving governance and development challenges.

The GPSA Operations Manual (PDF) provides technical guidance on the implementation of the GPSA. The strategy and working principles are more broadly explained in the GPSA Board paper (PDF). The Executive Summary (PDF) of the Board Paper is also available. The first GPSA Evaluation Report (PDF) is also available. 


Our Approach

Our approach to social accountability relies on the strength of the network of governments, civil society organizations and donors. As such, we support social accountability processes that are built on a number of key elements:

  1. Solution-driven approach → In order to address specific governance and service delivery problems that affect citizens' well-being, the starting point is the identification of problems whereby citizen feedback is needed to better understand their causes and to develop appropriate solutions. 

  2. Context-based → The problem is set within an understanding of the context of the actors, institutions and processes that are already involved in resolving it, including those that have an interest or are affected by the issue.

  3. Constructive engagement → Both the process and the actual feedback that is generated through social accountability must be shared, discussed and coordinated with the public sector institutions involved, primarily those that have the decision-making power to translate the feedback obtained into actual changes aimed at improving governance and development processes.

  4. Multi-stakeholder coalitions and partnerships → The complexity of governance and service delivery problems calls for the concerted action of actors that have direct and indirect interests in supporting their resolution. It also requires the combination of diverse types of expertise, outreach capacities, and influence in order to work simultaneously on the range of dimensions involved.

Results Framework

The GPSA Secretariat, supported by the Steering Committee, has undertaken a consultation process to develop a Results Framework (RF), as well as a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system for the Program. This process has included a series of face-to-face and virtual exchanges to receive feedback and refine the overall RF and M&E system.  Both Bank staff and external stakeholders, including donors, practitioners and evaluation specialists were convened for this process. In 2014, Lily Tsai, an Associate Professor of Political Science at MIT, and Florencia Guerzovich, an Independent Consultant, worked with the GPSA Secretariat on revising the Results Framework. 

This document presents the GPSA's theory of change and results framework.  The theory of change provides a description of how the GPSA expects its financial and knowledge support to contribute to realistic, measurable outcomes.  It identifies the assumptions underlying this vision as well as the outputs and key contextual factors expected to mediate the effects of the GPSA's inputs on outcomes within particular countries.