- Financial audits support improving government performance and accountability
- However, government practitioners don’t always implement audit recommendations
- In Kosovo, we identified barriers and behaviorally informed solutions to help facilitate follow-through
Financial audits of governments serve a crucial role in holding governments accountable. Audits provide transparency into how public resources are allocated and can produce recommendations that mitigate corruption and increase efficiency within government—for example by identifying issues related to the spending of public money or procurement practices.
However, if government officials do not act to make the necessary changes, audits alone are unlikely to substantially benefit municipalities and constituents. In Kosovo municipalities, according to internal data, in 2018 33% of the 586 recommendations made across municipalities were not implemented at all.
We worked with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Mission in Kosovo and the Kosovo National Audit Office (NAO) to identify behavioral barriers government practitioners may face in adopting audit recommendations, and propose behaviorally informed solutions to help facilitate follow-through.
First, we identified six insights about behavioral barriers that prevent implementation and uptake of audit recommendations in Kosovo. We then chose two existing channels that could be employed to deliver low-cost interventions aimed at boosting implementation rates: the Audit Report delivered by the National Audit Office to municipalities at the end of the audit and the Action Plan written by municipality officials in response to the recommendations in the Audit Report. We recommended several behaviorally informed updates to these channels, including using clear language, designating individual ownership for implementing audit recommendations, offering social incentives and recognition for implementing, and sending reminders to follow through.
These solution ideas are preliminary directions to be further developed and refined through research and collaboration with relevant stakeholders, and iterative rounds of prototyping and user-testing.
The proposals we developed to improve the Audit Report and Action Plan demonstrate how to adapt tested principles for different contexts, which can then be tested and further refined. Read more about the barriers and solutions, or learn more about how behavioral insights can improve governance.
Interested in learning more about our work applying behavioral science to improve governance around the world? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.