by Albert Van Zyl, Director of Strategy and Learning, IBP; and Paolo de Renzio, Senior Research Fellow, Open Budget Initiative, IBP— Jun 22, 2016
By documenting civil society budget campaigns, and the oversight systems in which they are conducted, IBP has become aware of the need to adjust our assumptions about civil society budget work and its impact. More specifically, we need to shift beyond a narrow focus on building the technical skills and knowledge of CSOs to influence the executive arm of government to a more holistic approach that recognizes the complementary roles of different actors in what we have come to call the accountability ecosystem. This ecosystem, in which budget processes are embedded, encompasses a number of institutions and organizations above and beyond civil society and executive government.
By Vivek Ramkumar, International Budget Partnership— Jun 14, 2016
Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) are crucial government bodies that verify whether public money is being used effectively and lawfully, and assess whether the fiscal information being produced by governments is complete and reliable. Since 2006, the Open Budget Survey has sought to measure the role and effectiveness of SAIs and their contribution to more accountable budgets. In this blog we examine the strengths and weaknesses of oversight institutions based on the data from the Open Budget Survey 2015.
by Rebecca Warner, International Budget Partnership— Jun 08, 2016
Economic downturns often leave governments with substantially reduced revenues at the same time as they face increasing demand for public services by those affected by the crisis. Too often governments in this situation will choose to curtail spending in an effort to control public-sector debt, an approach that can have significant consequences on the poorest and most vulnerable. Such budgetary decisions and their effect on marginalized communities are strictly bound by international human rights law. The question of how austerity measures have threatened human rights in Latin America was discussed in April 2016 at a gathering of civil society representatives and officials from international governing bodies.
By Brendan Halloran, International Budget Partnership— Jun 02, 2016
The World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) partners’ forum held in May 2016 was a space for discussing how civil society can influence government accountability and a chance to reflect on our evolving understanding of relationships between citizens and the state. This post elaborates on five key points drawn from the discussions at the GPSA forum and the International Budget Partnership’s experience with citizen-led accountability.
By Jason Lakin, IBP Kenya country manager— May 26, 2016
Accountability can only come from people and organizations consistently monitoring what the media reports and pointing out when stories fall short of the facts. That is part of what fact-checkers around the world do. It was with this in mind that Code for Kenya and IBP Kenya teamed up to create Pesacheck, Kenya’s first fact-checking service for local media sources. The service will examine public finance stories and produce and publish weekly fact-checking reports and catchy data visualizations to shine a bright light on areas where the media could do better.
By Claire Schouten, International Budget Partnership— May 24, 2016
In the wake of the Panama Papers, which exposed the illicit finance industry, the United Kingdom hosted the first-ever Anti-Corruption Summit on May 12. As the dust settles, IBP reflects on what came of the discussions, and importantly, what happens next in terms of open budgets?
By Paolo de Renzio, International Budget Partnership— May 17, 2016
Government budget transparency has historically received a lot more attention than citizen participation in the budget process. Yet budget transparency alone is not sufficient to bring about positive change. Civil society organizations need to be able to use fiscal information to put pressure on governments, which often happens through institutionalized participation channels. If there are few avenues for participation, budget transparency may end up being irrelevant. On the other hand, participation without transparency risks being ineffective if demands and debates around budgets are based on limited information. What can governments do to improve this “participation gap”?
By Paolo de Renzio, International Budget Partnership, Jorge Romero Leon, independent researcher, and Fundar’s Diego de la Mora and Liliana Ruiz— May 09, 2016
When governments first started publishing documents online, budget analysis still required searching large PDFs and patiently compiling the data for analysis. But more recently, with increasing emphasis on fiscal transparency and citizens’ right to information, things got even easier. Many governments are now using so-called “transparency portals” to host large amounts of budget data in machine readable formats. How widespread are these changes? What are some of the emerging good practices? And how can civil society organizations (CSOs) best take advantage of this new opportunity to enhance budget accountability?
by Jason Lakin, IBP Kenya— Apr 27, 2016
The term public participation has lost meaning in the context of budget making and a higher standard is needed if public participation is to deliver on its promises. Should public deliberation, a concept rooted in theories of deliberative democracy and moral philosophy, be the new standard? IBP Kenya’s Jason Lakin explains how public deliberation can help instill confidence in government decisions and engender an informed public.
by Dr. Yogesh Kumar, Samarthan— Apr 25, 2016
Samarthan, a civil society organization and IBP partner, works in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh to address social development issues by strengthening grassroots civil society groups. One of the ways the group does so is through the People’s Budget Initiative (PBI), a large national network of CSOs that work together to influence budget policy. Those who are marginalized and poor need a louder voice and more representation in policy discourse, particularly how public resources are used. In March, 2016, the Madhya Pradesh government presented the budget for financial year 2016-17, which Samarthan and PBI have been working hard to influence, but translating what’s on paper into positive outcomes for the poor and marginalized requires constant vigilance and reassessment.