Facility Audit: Create quick evidence to improve the availability and quality of public services

The facility audit is a tool to improve the overall quality and utilization of public service facilities and infrastructures. It ensures accountability of duty bearer towards the citizen, which in turn helps in improving public services. The facility audit enables informed citizen’s participation, empowers the citizens, and enables them to monitor the services as through this process citizens get to know about the public services intended for them. This helps in improving the facilities and assets required for quality service delivery.

What is a Facility Audit?

A facility audit is a comprehensive review of facilities provided by government, private sector as well as NGOs. It is a standard method for establishing baseline information to understand the status of the existing facilities, which includes staffing, buildings, materials, equipment, and other hardware required for smooth operations of the facilities to provide services to the people. Secondly, it helps to measure the monetary value of an aging asset relative to the cost of replacing that asset and thus projecting future maintenance costs and procurement. The audit includes conducting surveys, observations, and inspections. The findings are always shared with the service providers to improve the standard and quality of the facilities.

For instance, Welthungerhilfe along with its partners implemented this social accountability tool in Jharkhand, India where it was used for assessing two government services:

a) Facilities in elementary education and

b) Facilities used for the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), including health centres.

The facility audit was conducted in 4 districts covering 120 childcare centres and 21 health sub-centers. It resulted in the improvement of services. For example, in Dumka district when the report of the facility audit conducted for health centres under ICDS was shared with the district and block administration, it resulted in the government procuring new equipment for monitoring children’s growth in all the health centres of a block. A key lesson learned while conducting this audit was to involve the institutions of local government in this process, namely the elected members of the Gram Panchayat.

Facility Audit
© Illustration by Civil Society Academy

How to conduct a Facility Audit?

Step 1: Preparatory phase

  • Mapping of the service delivery points.

  • Get buy-in from higher officials for the audit (if possible).

  • Identify the facilities to be audited and prepare a list of the infrastructure, equipment, materials, staffing and services to be audited. This will be based on government documents which usually list all facilities.

  • Develop audit checklists for observing or inspecting facilities and services.

  • Develop guiding questions for the focus group discussion.

  • Select the team from the community that would conduct the audit.

  • Train the audit team and orient the service providers on the facility audit process.

  • Field test the tool and improve the checklists.

Step 2: Conduct Facility Audit

  • Taking service providers on board is very important to conduct a facility audit. The objective of the process should be clearly communicated at the beginning of the audit process so that they understand their roles and cooperate. The service provider is expected to provide the relevant registers, files, documents, and equipment for inspection. A written permission from higher authorities usually helps.

  • Observe and inspect the facilities i.e., physical verification of the infrastructure, availability of staff, materials, equipment etc and cross-check with the registers available in the offices.

  • Interview the service provider.

  • Collect information from the citizens through focus group discussions on their experiences of the facilities and services provided.

  • Analyse data and prepare a facility audit report. It is good to summarize key findings and develop recommendations for further advocacy work.

Step 3: Public Hearing and Advocacy

  • Share the report of the facility audit at a public hearing with the service providers, whose services were audited, and the comm