This paper documents the rapidly growing empirical literature that can plausibly claim to identify causal effects of transparency or participation in budgeting in a variety of contexts. Recent studies convincingly demonstrate that the power of audits travels well beyond the context of initial field-defining studies, consider participatory budgeting beyond Brazil, where such practices were pioneered, and examine previously neglected outcomes, notably revenues and procurement. Overall, the study of the impacts of fiscal openness has become richer and more nuanced. The most well-documented causal effects are positive: lower corruption and enhanced accountability at the ballot box. Moreover, these impacts have been shown to apply across different settings. This research concludes that the empirical case for open government in this policy area is rapidly growing in strength. This paper sets out challenges related to studying national-level reforms; working directly with governments; evaluating systems as opposed to programs; clarifying the relationship between transparency and participation; and understanding trade-offs for reforms in this area. Download the paper.
The participation of citizens in the decisions that are taken by the government when formulating and executing their budgets is no longer in contention as a way of governance in Kenya. The debate has now moved to the quality and level of inclusion in the engagement between citizens and their national and county governments. The budget remains the most important policy tool to deal with inequalities and poverty. Therefore, having citizens, especially the poor and marginalized communities, at the centre of the budget decisions is a progressive step to ensure the outputs of such processes are more responsive to their needs. However, for participation to be meaningful and effective, citizens should have access to timely, comprehensive, relevant, and accurate information on budget decisions. In Kenya, this means that national and county governments must proactively share budget information on all key decisions throughout the budget cycle and within the legal timelines.
The Kenya County Budget Transparency Survey 2021 has shown an improvement in overall county transparency by two points compared to the previous survey moving from 33 to 35 points. However, this score shows that citizens still have limited access to information on their county budgets, hampering their participation in the development and monitoring of service delivery through public budgets.
Key finding 1: Counties are becoming more transparent, but the pace is too slow
Key finding 2: Counties are not consistent in making budget information publicly available
Key finding 3: Budget documents provide incomplete coverage of required budget information
Key finding 4: Counties are becoming more responsive in a quest to improve their level of budget transparency
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global crisis still sending shock waves across public health systems, governance structures and markets. In response, parliaments had to quickly adapt to the new environment by not only adjusting their procedures and operations to respond to quarantine demands, but also passing legislation to address the emergency. From passing lockdown legislation to approving supplementary budgets or other measures to alleviate the effects of the pandemic, parliaments had to balance urgency with the demands of ensuring integrity and accountability, fair and proper representation, and inclusive decision-making.
The International Budget Partnership and National Democratic Institute partnered to analyze the role that legislatures play in mitigating the ongoing effects of the pandemic, especially through their budget oversight roles, and ensuring responses are effective and consistent with democratic norms. This policy brief incorporates global data and research conducted by the two organizations into parliamentary functions during the pandemic and provides recommendations for legislators, donors and parliamentary support organizations. It provides options for short-term adaptations that will ensure legislatures can perform — and improve — their functions in emergency contexts and at the same time promote long-term democratic governance reform. Download the report.
This advocacy memo aims at analyzing and making recommendations on improving the level of transparency and credibility in the implementation of the “Force Covid-19” fund. It highlights the availability of data and information on the main fiscal measures in response to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. The idea is therefore to show how the government can improve transparency and accountability practices as the COVID crisis continues. Read the report.
Civil society partners across 120 countries, including Nepal, worked with the International Budget Partnership (IBP) to undertake a rapid assessment of emergency fiscal policy packages in the period from March 2020 to September 2020. The policy initiatives, such as the “Health Care, Business Support and Job Creation measures in the Budget Speech of Fiscal Year 2020-21” adopted in Nepal, aimed at addressing the impact of the COVID-19 emergency. Our goal was not merely to assess how governments fared, but also to generate lessons on how they can respond better, both to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and to future crises. Read the report.