State audit of public-private partnerships: effects on transparency, auditor's roles, and impact on auditee's reactions

Luís Cracel Viana*, José António Moreira, Paulo Alves

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) play an active role in the government's accountability to the parliament. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are a different route used to deliver infrastructure-based public services by private sector entities compared to traditional public procurement. Due to their nature, PPPs raise specific issues related to transparency for public accountability and SAIs, through the independent and competent audit they provide, may enhance the information content of the accountability relationship between the government and the parliament. We conducted a documentary analysis of 16 PPP audit reports issued by the Portuguese Court of Auditors (CoA) to analyze the audit process and outputs. Overall, our evidence suggests that the CoA, through the audit reports, reduced the information asymmetry by disclosing relevant information for more comprehensive public scrutiny and political accountability of PPPs and made several recommendations towards better PPP governance and management. Furthermore, our findings corroborate the two functions of SAIs, which can both be found in the same audit report: the watchdog function (magistrate and public accountant roles), drawing attention to failures at different stages of the PPP cycle, and the shepherding function (management accountant role), providing advice to the Government towards best practices on PPP governance and management. Considering the Government's reactions to the audit reports and the information available about CoA's recommendations implementation, there are doubts about the desired audit impact on the auditee's change of PPPs governance and management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-660
Number of pages28
JournalFinancial accountability & management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Audit impact
  • Information disclosure
  • Political accountability
  • Public–private partnerships
  • Supreme audit institutions


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