Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Auditing for accountability? Political economy of government auditing and budget oversight in emerging economies
by Santiso, Carlos, Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, 2007, 429; 3262371
Abstract (Summary)

What explains the performance of external auditing agencies in emerging economies? How relevant are they to improving fiscal governance and controlling corruption? What determines the success or failure of their reform? External audit agencies are an integral part of the system of checks and balances. However, little is known about what explains their effectiveness and what determines their performance.

Combining quantitative and qualitative research techniques, the dissertation investigates the political economy of government auditing and budget oversight in emerging economies. Building on earlier findings on the role of political institutions in economic performance, it develops a conceptual framework to assess the effectiveness of external audit agencies. Gathering quantitative data for ten Latin American countries, it develops a performance indicator to assess the links between external auditing and fiscal governance. It then investigates three case studies, Argentina, Brazil and Chile, illustrating the three main models of external auditing.

The dissertation finds a correlation between the credibility of audit agencies and the quality of governance. It demonstrates that dysfunctions in systems of fiscal control are systemic, not agency specific. The choice of institutional arrangements for government auditing bears limited explanatory power. Accountability gaps in public finances originate in wider dysfunctions in the systems of fiscal control. The effectiveness of external audit agencies depends on the quality of their insertion into the system of fiscal control and the political economy of executive-legislative budget relations.

The research reveals a paradox of independence: while external audit agencies must be sufficiently autonomous to be effective and credible, they need to develop efficacious relations with the other components of the system of fiscal control with the necessary powers to enforce accountability on government, in particular parliaments. The research also underscores that external audit agencies must be reformed inasmuch as they must be strengthened. However, reform strategies based on radical change or institutional transplant of exogenous models are likely to fail. Effective reform must be couched in the country's broader public governance and trajectory of institutional change. This research expands knowledge on oversight agencies and opens avenues for further research on the role of parliaments in public budgeting.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Roett, Riordan
School: The Johns Hopkins University
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 68/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Latin American history, Public administration
Keywords: Accountability, Auditing, Budget oversight, Emerging economies, Government, Political economy
Publication Number: 3262371
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