Weaving a New Narrative: How Budget Transparency Reforms Took Hold in Mexico

by Paolo de Renzio, International Budget Partnership— May 16, 2017

Benjamin Hill Mayoral held a series of important policy positions in the Government of Mexico, both in the Ministry of Public Administration (Executive Secretary of the Inter-Ministerial Commission for Transparency and Corruption Control, and Head of the Transparency Policy and International Cooperation Unit) and at the Ministry of Finance (Head of the Performance Evaluation Unit). While at the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Hill oversaw the creation of Mexico’s budget transparency portal, an award-winning initiative that has greatly improved citizens’ access to budget information. In this interview with Paolo de Renzio, Senior Research Fellow at the International Budget Partnership, Mr. Hill recollects his efforts to build the portal and other related reforms.

budget-transparency-reforms-mexico-benjamin-hill-mayoral

From Domestic Accountability to International Recognition: Fiscal Openness Reforms in the Philippines

by Paolo de Renzio, International Budget Partnership— May 11, 2017

Florencio “Butch” Barsana Abad was Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) of the Philippines during the period 2010-2016. Previously, he had served as Secretary of the Department of Education and Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform. He was also a congress member (three terms), lawyer, trade unionist, and an educator and activist. As Budget Secretary, he championed active citizenship and open government through citizen participation in planning and budgeting and making essential budget documents and information publicly available. Through the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) Program, he institutionalized people’s participation in the budget process and enabled civil society organizations to partner with their local governments to address poverty in their communities. In this interview with Paolo de Renzio, Senior Research Fellow at the International Budget Partnership, Mr. Abad recalls the range of reforms that he helped introduce while at DBM.

Butch Abad philippines

Starting from the Top: Political Leadership and Fiscal Openness Reforms in Brazil

by Paolo de Renzio, International Budget Partnership— May 09, 2017

Jorge Hage Sobrinho was Deputy Minister of Brazil’s Federal Comptroller General (Controladoria-Geral da União, or CGU) from 2003 to 2006, and its Chief Minister from 2006 to 2014. While at CGU, he oversaw significant transparency reforms, including the launch of Brazil’s fiscal transparency portal, a user-friendly online tool for searching and downloading detailed budget information that has drawn wide praise both within and outside Brazil. In this interview with IBP’s Paolo de Renzio, Minister Hage reflects on his time at CGU and on the transparency reforms that he helped introduce and implement.

Exposing Wrongs With the Right to Information: Freedom Forum’s Work With the Media in Nepal

by Ryan Flynn for the International Budget Partnership— Apr 19, 2017

When Freedom Forum, a civil society organization based in Nepal, decided to use the country’s Right to Information (RTI) laws to investigate special funds allocated to parliamentarians, they uncovered a vast array of wasteful projects. Such nebulous spending was being channeled through Nepal’s Constituency Development Funds (CDFs), mechanisms for allocating money from the national coffers for parliamentarians to spend in their local constituencies. Using Nepal’s Right to Information law to investigate CDFs, Freedom Forum painstakingly traced how money was being spent and projects were supposed to be administered. They then worked with investigative journalists to piece together a series of exposés revealing the misuse of public money.

Bridging Political Polarization: Pension Reform in El Salvador

By Rocio Campos, International Budget Partnership— Mar 09, 2017

Building consensus and using evidence to influence policy can be particularly challenging in contexts where political polarization has become entrenched. This was the scenario in El Salvador in 2014, when IBP started working with a diverse group of civil society organizations to influence the debate on pension reform. Tactics included producing evidence for decision makers and working to socialize basic facts about the reform with the wider public.

Pension Reform in El Salvador

Making the Most of the Budget Cycle: The Budget Formulation Stage

By Jay Colburn, International Budget Partnership— Feb 28, 2017

Timing can be everything when it comes to influencing government decisions. Luckily budgeting more or less follows a regular cycle throughout the financial year and decisions are often contingent on what has come before. Civil society organizations (CSOs) looking to influence budgets can use their knowledge of the budget cycle to determine the timing and targets of their interventions. This post looks at the formulation stage of the budget cycle and how civil society can most effectively engage in it.

Putting the Government’s Budget Proposal in Context

By by Albert van Zyl, International Budget Partnership South Africa— Feb 23, 2017

Civil society can play an important accountability role throughout the budget process, from formulation to enactment then implementation and audit. Early in the process, civil society organizations can inform the public about the government’s proposals for raising and spending public money and can offer a critical voice that places the proposals in the social and economic context of the country and challenges questionable assumptions. On 22 February 2017 the South African Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan delivered the annual budget speech upon tabling the Executive’s Budget Proposal in parliament. As an example of how CSOs can engage in this stage of the process, IBP South Africa responded with the following assessment of the proposal.

Decentralized Budget Transparency?

By Carlene van de Westhuizen and Albert van Zyl, International Budget Partnership South Africa— Feb 16, 2017

There is a tendency to assume that budget information is centralized and can be provided by the national Ministry of Finance. Some exploratory work done by IBP South Africa suggests that sources of budget information — specifically the information needed by CSOs for analyzing budgets and monitoring implementation on the ground — can be more decentralized than one might expect.

funding basic education in south africa

The Open Budget Survey 2017: Expanding and Improving How Budget Transparency, Participation, and Oversight are Measured

By David Robins, International Budget Partnership— Feb 09, 2017

In late 2016 civil society researchers from 115 countries began the research for the sixth biennial Open Budget Survey, the world’s leading independent and comparative evaluation of the state of transparency, oversight, and public participation in government budget processes. The kick off of the Open Budget Survey 2017 research is an exciting milestone and thus a good opportunity to check in on the survey and take a look at what is to come in the near — and not so near — future.

Making the Most of Citizens Budgets

By Elena Mondo, International Budget Partnership— Jan 10, 2017

Government budget documents are hardly page-flipping bestsellers. They usually consist of hundreds of pages of numbers and charts accompanied by technical jargon that even readers with advanced degrees find difficult to decipher. No wonder then that most citizens have hard time understanding what government budgets are about, despite the huge impact that they can have on their livelihoods. In many countries civil society and the media play an important role in “translating” budget information for a general audience. But governments should also lead on informing the public about budget processes and policies. One way to do so is to publish Citizens Budgets — shorter, simpler documents aimed at a general audience.