February 2019 | By Paolo de Renzio, International Budget Partnership
Improving budget transparency practices is particularly important to enable the adequate monitoring and assessment of governments’ efforts to tackle poverty and inequality, and to understand the impact that budgets have on different groups of people.
This paper, part of our work related to how budgets can promote equity and justice, looks at the information governments provide on the impact of their budget policies on poor and disadvantaged groups – and on poverty and inequality more generally. The analysis is based on the results of three questions from the Open Budget Survey 2017 meant to hone in on these issues. Findings demonstrate that, on average, governments publish very little information on these topics, thereby limiting the ability of civil society to monitor these efforts and hold their governments accountable.
Prior to the Open Budget Survey (OBS) 2015, the average overall Open Budget Index transparency score of francophone countries were much lower than those of comparable non-francophone countries. This led some French-speaking observers to question whether the OBS is biased against francophone countries. To answer the question of whether there are specific features of francophone countries’ PFM system that are not captured by the OBS, or that may result in bias, IBP commissioned public finance expert Ian Lienert to examine:
The trends in budget transparency as measured by the Open Budget Index in francophone countries through the OBS 2015.
The main factors contributing to the level of fiscal transparency.
The specific features of francophone countries that may, or may not, contribute to bias in OBS results.
August 2017 | By Paolo de Renzio, Daniel Hiller, and Suad Hasan, International Budget Partnership
For citizens, civil society groups, and other actors interested in budget monitoring and analysis for advocacy and accountability purposes, having predictable access to budget information is essential. Fiscal accountability is greatly facilitated when governments can be relied upon to regularly and predictably publish budget documents and information across the different stages of the budget cycle. However, in some countries this is not the case. “Volatility” in the publication of budget documents — when the public availability of documents containing key budget information changes repeatedly over time — is a common occurrence across countries included in the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey.
This Budget Brief presents the results of a stock-taking study of existing evidence related to volatility in budget transparency across countries included in the Open Budget Survey, drawing on survey data between 2008 and 2016. To establish whether lack of institutionalization could be seen as one of the factors leading to volatility, the analysis of Open Budget Survey data on the public availability of budget documents — and how availability has evolved over time — is complemented by two other types of data that relate to the institutionalization of budget transparency practices: public finance management laws and the strength of government systems linked to the production of budget information.
April 2017 | By International Budget Partnership and UNICEF
There is a growing global consensus that the best way to manage funds effectively and equitably is through open budget systems. This has been strongly emphasized in the United Nation’s General Comment No. 19 on Public Budgeting for the Realization of Children’s Rights and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
There are two reasons why this message holds particular relevance for governments in Africa. First, the continent is undergoing a profound demographic shift that will see the child population grow by more than 67 percent over the next 35 years. Second, domestic resources raised and spent through government budgets now far outstrip resources provided through aid in most African countries. The future of development progress for children in Africa is likely to hinge on the ability of government to manage these domestic resources transparently and accountably.
Published in partnership with UNICEF, this report examines budget transparency and accountability in 31 African countries. Drawing on data from the Open Budget Survey 2015, the report identifies shortcomings across all three pillars of open and accountable budget systems: budget transparency, public participation, and oversight by formal government institutions. The report provides a set of recommendations for how African governments can improve transparency and accountability and ensure that public resources are used in the best interests of the growing population of children in the continent.
December 2016 | By Paolo de Renzio, International Budget Partnership and Massimo Mastruzzi, The World Bank
Governments sometimes complain that the budget information they make publicly available is seldom accessed and utilized. On the other hand, civil society organizations (CSOs) often claim that the information governments make available is very difficult to understand and not detailed enough to allow for meaningful analysis and advocacy. Is there a mismatch between the budget information supplied by governments and demand among civil society?
This paper examines the “demand side” of fiscal transparency using findings from a global survey of 176 individuals working in civil society that use budget information for analysis and advocacy activities. Based on the responses, the authors identify a “fiscal transparency effectiveness gap” between the fiscal information that governments often provide and the information that CSOs need.
These findings are used to develop a set of recommendations to help governments ensure their transparency practices deliver increased citizen engagement, improved oversight, and enhanced accountability.