Parliament engage CSOs on accountability

The Committee on Government Assurances (CGA) is set to meet civil society organisations (CSOs) within the governance landscape to discuss how to collaborate on effectively tracking assurances and holding the executive branch of government accountable.

The one-day workshop, which is a collaboration with Penplusbytes, forms part of an intervention under the second phase of the OSIWA-funded project dubbed ‘Connecting Citizens to Parliament’.

“With this project, Penplusbytes – from a civic tech and civil society point of view – seeks to continue empowering citizens to be active participants in the development process, by deploying resources and technology that allow citizens to monitor how services are delivered by the Executive and report to Parliament through the Committee on Government Assurance (CGA).”

The CGA and legislature will then be better informed and more equipped to perform their oversight responsibilities of holding the Executive to account for assurances made on the floor of parliament, in regard to delivering projects and public services.

The CGA is a special committee in Parliament established in 1998 to pursue all government assurances, promises and undertakings given by cabinet Ministers, and report to the House of Parliament on the extent to which such assurances have been carried out.

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Recognising that interaction between citizens and their representatives (MPs) enhances the work of parliament, Penplusbytes in 2014 – with support from STAR-Ghana – built an interactive tech platform that incorporated social media and effectively linked citizens with Parliament.

The initiative was able to overcome the limitations of citizens accessing and interfacing with parliament and the executive.

In 2015, with support from OSIWA, this work was scaled-up by employing all available tools, including new media and mobile technologies, to provide citizens with improved access to the CGA’s work and means of participating in the political dialogue, and also holding government to account. Nearly 5 million Ghanaians were engaged through online tools, mainstream media, and face-to-face engagements during these periods.

This phase of the project seeks to institutionalise some of the approaches by civil society for  engaging citizens in the governance landscape, adopting  and integrating into the workflow of parliament the use of digital technologies as a cost-effective way to reach citizens in various geographic locations or who lack the means to participate in person, and thus empower citizens to be the eyes of Parliament in playing its oversight role .

According to the Executive Director of Penplusbytes, Juliet Amoah: “It is for this reason that Penplusbytes has decided to gather thoughts of like-minded organisations during this one-day workshop”.

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She said: “We believe using a concerted and inclusive approach will achieve a greater impact than previously”.

At the end of the workshop – which is today, April 17, 2019 – best approaches in enabling citizens’ feedback into the work of the CGA will be documented, as well as best practices and innovations adopted.

Penplusbytes is a not-for-profit organisation driving change through innovations in three key areas: using new digital technologies to enable good governance and accountability; new media and innovations; and driving oversight for effective utilisation of mining, oil and gas revenue and resources.

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