The International Budget Partnership collaborates with civil society around the world to use budget analysis and advocacy as a tool to improve effective governance and reduce poverty.
The International Budget Partnership (IBP) focuses on government budgets because they are at the core of development. Budgets are the government’s most powerful tool to meet the needs of its people, especially those who are poor and marginalized. Whether it’s about health, education, or pensions, the most well-meaning public policy has little impact on poverty until it is matched with sufficient public resources, and those resources are used effectively to provide public services.
Our experience shows that when ordinary people have access to comprehensive and timely budget information, skills, and opportunities to participate, broader public engagement in government budget processes can promote substantive improvements in governance and poverty.
But in too many countries, budgetary decisions are made behind closed doors with little or no regard for the public interest. The results are poor policy choices and squandering of scarce public resources.
In order to foster more open, participatory, and accountable public budgeting, IBP partners with civil society organizations around the world, leveraging their knowledge of their country’s political context, their experience navigating policy processes for social change, and their relationships with the public in order to transform their country’s budget system.
What Does IBP Do?
Leading the field for over 20 years, IBP has taken on the challenge of making public finance systems worldwide more transparent and accountable through its work in four interlinked areas that combine country-based civil society pressure with increased pressure from international institutions, together with efforts to generate effective advocacy for more open and responsive budgeting. These areas are:
- Building organizations: strengthening civil society organizations and networks by developing the skills and relationships needed to improve budget processes and create change in the countries where they operate.
- Opening budgets: researching, measuring, and monitoring budget transparency, participation, and accountability around the world to build an evidence base promoting greater openness.
- Establishing global norms: engaging with a wide-range of international stakeholders, including donors, government oversight institutions, and international NGOs, to play a greater role in budget issues.
- Learning what works: producing rigorous evidence, analysis, and case studies on the impact of IBP and its partners to inform more strategic and effective practices.
What Is the Impact of This Work?
IBP and its civil society partners contribute to reforms in how governments around the world manage public funds so that:
- Budget processes (how budgets are proposed, debated, implemented, and evaluated) are more transparent and open to public input;
- Budget policies (who will pay what taxes, or how much money will go to specific programs) effectively address the needs of the poor and marginalized; and
- Budget rules, regulations, and institutions are stronger and better able to resist corruption and mismanagement and ensure more effective and efficient use of public resources.
What Progress Have We Made?
The work of IBP and its civil society partners has started to pay off:
- Civil society budget work has grown from CSOs in a handful of countries in the late 1990s to hundreds of organizations in over 100 countries actively involved in government budget processes today.
- There is growing evidence that civil society participation in public budgeting can have a significant impact on budget process, policies, and outcomes.
- Civil society organizations in several countries have strengthened the ability of legislatures and supreme audit institutions to play their role as indirect representatives of the people and important oversight institutions by providing technical assistance, important information on the needs and priorities of the public, and independent, objective budget analyses.
And the progress is real – civil society engagement in public budgeting is now widely acknowledged and promoted within civil society organizations and by donors, and an increasing number of governments are committed to transparent, accountable, and effective budget processes.
Still, the problem of closed budgeting persists in far too many countries around the world, and the use of public resources too frequently does not prioritize the needs of poor and vulnerable communities, those that rely most on public support.
IBP has deepened and broadened its collaboration with civil society budget groups to engage in initiatives and efforts that will contribute to:
- greater budget transparency and opportunities for engagement in budget processes;
- improvements in the quality of government budget institutions;
- more progressive budget policies and inclusive budget processes;
- larger allocations for critical social programs; and
- more effective and efficient use of scarce budgetary resources.
IBP brings to these efforts the working relationships that it has developed with organizations in more than 100 countries. Most of these organizations are members of a vibrant international network that has helped build the field by fostering collaboration across international boundaries, sharing the lessons learned from the work, and pioneering new approaches to citizen oversight of government operations. Through these relationships and its core programs, IBP pursues its goals with the ultimate aim of systemically improving levels of governance and reducing poverty.