Audit Culture: Unintended Consequences of Accountability Practices in Evidence-Based Programs

Jill Owczarzak, Michelle Broaddus, Steven Pinkerton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Evaluation has become expected within the nonprofit sector, including HIV prevention service delivery through community-based organizations (CBOs). While staff and directors at CBOs may acknowledge the potential contribution of evaluation data to the improvement of agency services, the results of evaluation are often used to demonstrate fiscal prudence, efficiency, and accountability to funders and the public, rather than to produce information for the organization’s benefit. We conducted 22 in-depth, semistructured interviews with service providers from four agencies implementing the same evidence-based HIV prevention intervention. We use the lens of “audit culture” to understand how the evaluation and accountability mandates of evidence-based program implementation within HIV prevention service provision affect provider–client relations, staff members’ daily work, and organizational focus in natural settings, or contexts without continuous support and implementation monitoring. We conclude with recommendations for improving the use and methods of evaluation within HIV prevention service delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-343
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Evaluation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • HIV prevention
  • audit culture
  • community-based organizations
  • evidence-based programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management


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