Challenging the audit culture


Rosalind Eyben

Over a year ago, people in a wide range of international development organisations discussed how to address the issues arising from the new impact agenda. A narrowing of what is valued and how value is measured has led many of us to seek constructive ways to conceptually and methodologically assess the impact – and therefore the design – of development funding in support of a fairer world, beyond oftentimes narrow bureaucratic protocols that require guaranteed predictable outcomes. Much of what is happening is rendered invisible and ignored.

The Big Push Forward is a network of practitioners identifying and sharing strategies for encouraging funders to adopt additional, useful approaches to impact assessment and reporting of international development programmes. In April we found a collective voice with our our website for encouraging and supporting collective learning and sharing. (

Last week, the first thematic cluster,  ‘Value for Money’, was launched by its facilitator, Cathy Shutt.  Several other themes are on track for launching, including alternative forms of reporting and collaborating with people inside donor agencies who are equally dissatisfied with the prevailing ‘audit culture’ and want to make space for supporting social transformation.

Please contribute to these important debates. The questions are huge and the answers are not clear. You can engage via the public blogs and by joining a thematic cluster that speaks closely to the challenges you face in your work.

Rosalind Eyben is a Research Fellow in the Participation, Power and Social Change research team at IDS.