Open Budget Survey: 2017 Update

In September 2016 the International Budget Partnership (IBP) will begin the Open Budget Survey 2017 — the world’s only independent, comparable measure of budget transparency, participation, and oversight. There are three things you should know about this sixth and latest round of the IBP’s biennial survey.

What is the timeline for the Open Budget Survey 2017?

The Open Budget Survey is conducted through a collaborative research process in which IBP works with civil society researchers in over 100 countries over the course of 18 months. Researchers will begin collecting data for the Survey in September 2016 and assess events, activities, and developments that occur before 31 December 2016.

As in previous rounds of the Survey, IBP will invite governments to comment on the draft results. This will occur between late 2016 and early 2017. All comments that government reviewers submit will be published in their entirety in the country’s Open Budget Survey 2017 questionnaire. IBP encourages governments interested in commenting on the draft results to contact us at agarg@internationalbudget.org.

We estimate that the results of the Open Budget Survey 2017 will be published at the end of 2017.

What is different about the Open Budget Survey 2017?

  1. IBP has modified the definition of “public availability of budget documents” to reflect evolving methods for disseminating budget information. In prior rounds of the Survey, documents that were only available in hard copy were still considered to be publicly available. We will now only consider documents that are published on official government websites as being publicly available.

The decision to modify the definition of public availability reflects the growing practice of using official websites to disseminate budget information to the public. The 2015 Survey found that just four percent of publicly available documents only available in hard copy, and that the vast majority of countries surveyed published at least one budget document online.

  1. IBP is revising and strengthening its indicators on public participation and budget oversight to underscore the importance of all three pillars of a well-functioning accountability ecosystem: budget transparency, public participation, and effective oversight institutions. Consistent with the principles that the Open Budget Survey measures, we have revised the indicators on public participation and oversight through a collaborative process, consulting a diverse range stakeholders from government, civil society, and international financial institutions from across the globe.

The revisions to the indicators on public participation align them with Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency’s new principles on public participation. These principles now serve as a basis for widely accepted norms on public participation in national budget processes.

We have also revised the indicators on oversight of the executive throughout the budget process. The changes move the indicators beyond just assessing the strength of the formal oversight institutions — the legislature and the supreme audit institution — toward assessing whether the broader architecture of the budget system includes adequate checks and balances for ensuring integrity and accountability in the use of public resources.

  1. We have extended the coverage of the Open Budget Survey from 102 countries to 115 countries.

What steps can countries take to improve performance on the 2017 Survey?

Recommendations for improving budget transparency, participation, and oversight are included in each of the Open Budget Survey 2015 country summaries. In addition, we collaborated with our research partners to conduct an interim update on the public availability of the eight key budget documents.

IBP and its partners encourage governments to use these findings to guide budget transparency reforms in the final quarter of 2016 and welcome the opportunity to discuss the results of this exercise with interested governments.