Ghana’s Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms (GSAM) Project is a five-year United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project that seeks to strengthen citizens’ oversight of capital development projects to improve local government transparency, accountability and performance.
Through support to local Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) for intense monitoring and dissemination of information on capital development projects of District Assemblies, the GSAM project enables citizens to hold their local authorities accountable.
CARE International in Ghana, IBIS in Ghana and Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) are working together as a Consortium to implement the project in 100 districts from 2014 to 2019.
Studies have shown that citizens are poorly informed on local governance processes and the performance of their district assemblies. They have limited opportunities for independent assessment of the performance of their respective Assemblies. This creates an atmosphere for corruption, inefficiency and poor service delivery.
The GSAM project has thus designed an appropriate response to help bridge the information and accountability gaps, especially at the local level, by increasing information flow to citizens on District Assembly processes, particularly the planning and execution of capital development projects; and creating avenues for citizen monitoring, assessment and feedback.
The project contributes directly to Development Objective One (1) of the USAID Ghana Mission’s Country Development Cooperation Strategy – Strengthened Responsive, Democratic Governance. Under this overarching objective, the project will contribute specifically to two of three intermediate results: Improved Local Governance Performance and Increased Government Accountability to Better-Informed Citizens.
Key Components of GSAM
Information & Advocacy Campaigns
Through radio, town hall meetings, focus groups interactions, project performance bulletins, among others, citizens are informed about the performance of their district assemblies in the following areas:
- Planning and budgeting of capital development projects;
- Selection of contractors and service providers;
- Award of contracts;
- Implementation; and
- All relevant details, etc.
This allows citizens to independently monitor and assess the performance of their respective Assemblies and be stimulated to participate in District Assembly processes and therefore demand improved performance and service delivery.
CSO-led Citizen Monitoring & Oversight
The project uses scorecards and citizen report cards to enable CSOs and citizens measure the performance of their District Assemblies. In addition, the CSOs are supported to monitor and document the progress of District Assembly capital development projects using information, communication and technology tools. The project has established an e-platform, gsamproject.org, to aggregate information from the CSO monitoring as well as the scorecards for the purposes of analysis and dissemination.
A key component of the project is the capacity building and technical assistance provided for CSOs to enable them conduct intense and focused monitoring, advocacy and information campaigns as they relate to the planning and execution of capital projects. CSOs are trained on the use of digital cameras to monitor the progress and quality of capital projects and how to systematically gather data on capital projects in order to maximise their reliability.
The GSAM project is expected to contribute significantly towards improving (engendering) accountable and responsive local governance, as a result of increased civil society participation and oversight of capital development projects. This should lead to improved service delivery and, ultimately, improved standards of living for citizens in the 100 project districts.
The project would also contribute to building stronger Civil Society Organisations capable of monitoring capital development projects and leading citizens to demand improved governance. In addition, citizens would become better-informed and empowered to participate effectively in local development, thereby promoting participatory local governance.
Key Stakeholders & Partners
Apart from the CSOs who are implementing the GSAM project in the 100 districts, the Consortium is also working with key governance institutions that have a mandate and constitutional obligation in Ghana’s decentralization and experience in local governance processes. They are the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Local Government Service Secretariat (LGSS) and Institute of Local Governance Studies (ILGS). The National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) is also a key stakeholder in this project.
These key stakeholders, the Consortium and USAID make up the national-level Advisory Committee, which is responsible for oversight and reviewing performance management of the GSAM project.
In addition, the Consortium has forged a partnership with Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs), District Assemblies (DAs), the media and other regional and district-level political actors and administrative structures for a smooth implementation of the project and to sustain the gains made.