What Are We Learning About Ecosystems and Social Change?

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.

International Budget Partnership Budget Accountability Ecosystyem

Shackled Auditors, Toothless Legislatures: Why Government Oversight is Unable to Deliver Budget Accountability

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.

The Art of Citizen-Led Accountability: Five Take Aways from the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability Forum

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.

PesaCheck: Building a New Media Culture in Kenya Around Budget Stories

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.

pesacheck for public finance fact checking

How to Bridge the “Participation Gap” in Government 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”?

budget transparency and participation

What Civil Society Should Know About How Governments are Disclosing Budget Information Online

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?

Beyond Wish Lists: Budget Deliberation, not Empty Participation

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.

Opening Up the Discussion on Public Finance in India: A Tool for Budget Analysis

by Gaurav Godhwani and Rohith Jyothish, Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA)— Mar 30, 2016

In the world of government budgets it pays to move fast. React too slowly and the national conversation around budget priorities has already moved on. This is why the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) publishes an analysis of India’s Union Budget within 24 hours of it being presented to parliament each year. This analysis helps to facilitate an informed budget discussion, particularly around sectors and issues relevant for the poor and vulnerable sections of the population. This year, alongside the traditional analysis, CBGA decided to launch an online Budget Analysis Tool.

CBGA India Budget Analysis Tool

Ugandan Government Commits to Civil Society Participation in the Latest Budget

By Carol Namagembe, the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG)— Mar 24, 2016

The Government of Uganda has promised to incorporate proposals from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) into the 2016/17 National Budget. This was revealed by the State Minister for Finance, Fred Omach, during a pre-budget dialogue with CSOs in Kampala on March 18, 2016. “We shall pick the highlights and the best you have,” Omach said after acknowledging the critical role CSOs play in influencing government policies.