What is social accountability?

All citizens have a right to obtain explanations and justifications for how available public resources are being used to meet their needs, and to insist on corrective action where they don’t. All those responsible for managing and deciding on the use of public resources have an obligation to produce these explanations and justifications, and to take corrective action where resources are not effectively used to meet needs. Social accountability exists when there is proactive engagement between public officials and citizens in order to realise this right and to redeem these obligations.

What is socially accountable governance?

Socially accountable governance requires:

  • - Capacity of government officials to explain and justify how available public resources are being used to meet social needs, to engage with civil society, and to take corrective action where they don’t.
  • - Capacity of civil society groups to engage with the evidence for these explanations and justifications, and to ensure corrective action

SAME provides a framework and indicators for:

  • Producing baselines of these capacities
  • Designing project interventions to strengthen these capacities
  • Evaluating the impact of these interventions

What is the SAME Framework?

The SAME Framework focuses on a set of practical public resource management processes that are responsible for effectively delivering public services and realising needs and rights. Institutional arrangements, socio-economic conditions and the powers of key actors are different in different nation states. But to deliver public services that meet social needs, states have to have efficient, effective and socially accountable public resource management processes.

There are nine separate processes within the public resource management cycle. These span the planning (and budgeting) phase, the implementation phase, and the review phase, of this cycle.

Planning and
Budgeting Phase

Needs Assessment
Strategic Planning
Resource Mobilisation Planning
Resource Allocation


Revenue Collection
Expenditure Management
Performance Management
Preventive and Corrective Action


State Oversight

What does each process involve?

Each public resource management process plays a critical role in converting available public resources into public goods (like schools, hospitals, roads and bridges) and public services (like healthcare, education, refuse removal, policing etc) to meet people’s needs and rights. Click on the diagram above to see what each process involves.

What are SAME Indicators?

The SAME Framework includes indicators for efficiency and effectiveness, as well as for social accountability, for each public resource management process. Efficiency indicators (which measure whether inputs were used optimally to produce outputs) are insufficient because public officials could be efficiently producing the wrong kinds of public services or public goods. Effectiveness indicators (which measure whether the right outputs are produced) may also be inadequate because public services and goods identified by the executive and legislative arms of government may not be meeting priority social needs. That is why social accountability indicators are crucial. Click on the diagram above to see efficiency and effectiveness indicators, as well as social accountability indicators, for each process.

What makes SAME different?

  • Our framework focuses on the capacities of government officials and civil society groups.
  • Our systemic approach focuses on public resource management processes across tiers of governance as well as governance institutions.
  • Our needs-based and rights-based approach.
  • Our rigorous, evidence-based universal set of indicators can be applied across geo-political contexts and different tiers of governance.
  • Our ability to analyse the influence of context, power and resources on the capacity of governance institutions and civil society groups.
  • Our diagnostic and problem-solving recommendations. We recommend actions emerging out of our findings that are tailored to meet your organisational needs and the policy sector you work in.
  • Our rigour, independence and ethics. Our evaluations are external, independent, and evidence-based. Our findings tell it like it is.
  • Our commitment to learning from our work and to feeding our insights back into the refinement of your Theory of Change.