Budget Transparency, Participation, and Accountability Research

In addition to the biennial Open Budget Survey, we commission and carry out short- and long-term research projects that dig deeper into various aspects of budget transparency, participation, and accountability. Browse research by type below.

Jump to: National & Subnational Budget Transparency | Drivers of Open BudgetsJournal Publications

Research on National and Subnational Budget Transparency

This research builds on, further analyzes, or uses the methodology of the Open Budget Survey to examine budget transparency, participation, and accountability at the national and subnational levels.

The Road to Budget Transparency: Learning from Country Experience

This paper examines the budget transparency practices of six countries (Argentina, Ghana, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, and Uganda). It aims to identify not only catalytic factors that may have prompted governments to take steps to improve budget transparency but also some of the more specific steps they took (or did not take) in order to do so. It also examines the barriers that they faced in achieving and sustaining those improvements.

The Road to Budget Transparency in Six Countries
The Road to Budget Transparency in Uganda

This case study examines Uganda’s journey toward greater budget transparency, looking at its reform trajectory from 2006 to 2015 in order to identify factors that have contributed to improved budget transparency during this period.

budget transparency in uganda
The Road to Budget Transparency in Ghana

Ghana has been making some efforts toward improving budget transparency over the years by making some information and some budget documents available to the public. However, Ghana’s performance on the Open Budget Index has not shown much improvement. This case study examines Ghana’s efforts, with special emphasis on the period of 2008 to 2016.

budget transparency in ghana
The Road to Budget Transparency in the Philippines

After languishing in the “limited” category on the Open Budget Index for nearly a decade, the Philippines managed to achieve a score of 64 in the 2015 round. On the surface, the Philippines improved its transparency rating simply by publishing all eight key budget documents. However, beneath that surface is a story of how key actors in the government bureaucracy took action to fulfill the promise made by the administration at that time to curb corruption and make the management of public funds more efficient, effective, and open to citizens. This case study examines the public finance management reforms and additional government actions that served to increase fiscal transparency in the Philippines.

budget transparency in the philippines
The Road to Budget Transparency in Mexico

In the 2006 and 2008 rounds of the Open Budget Survey, Mexico’s Open Budget Index score fell in the middle range. However, beginning in 2009 the Mexican Ministry of Finance started taking budget transparency seriously, which was reflected by an increase in Open Budget Index scores in the 2012 and 2015 rounds. This case study examines why the Mexican government decided to enhance fiscal transparency and which actions were put in place both to start and to maintain the upward trend.

budget transparency in mexico
The Road to Budget Transparency in Indonesia

Budget transparency has become a widely accepted recipe for good governance. However, according to the Open Budget Survey, many countries remain stuck at intermediate levels. Indonesia is one of those countries. This case study aims to explain why budget transparency in Indonesia has not managed to move beyond intermediate levels by examining government and civil society initiatives that have influenced budget transparency and exploring why these initiatives did not lead to sustainable improvements.

budget transparency in indonesia
The Road to Budget Transparency in Argentina

While Argentina has consistently produced six of the eight key budget documents included in the Open Budget Index, its scores from 2006-2015 range between 40 and 60, leaving it stuck in the middle. This case study examines Argentina’s journey toward greater budget transparency, describing inconsistencies and speculating about their potential causes.

Budget Transparency in Argentina
The Subnational Open Budget Survey Methodology and Questionnaire

As subnational governments’ responsibility for resource allocation and service provision has increased, so has the importance of transparency, participation, and accountability at the subnational level. The Subnational Open Budget Survey questionnaire and methodology were developed by the International Budget Partnership in 2013 to aid civil society organizations in conducting budget transparency studies at the subnational level.

Subnational Budget Transparency: An Analysis of Ten Pilot Studies

Recognizing the importance of subnational transparency as well as the scarcity of academic and policy literature on the subject, the International Budget Partnership commissioned ten pilot studies in 2011. Research organizations in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Croatia, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Mali, Mongolia and Peru countries were assigned to analyze the state of subnational transparency in their country and were instructed to develop their own methodology. This paper synthesizes the findings of these studies.

Measuring Subnational Budget Transparency, Participation, and Accountability: Peru

This study on the state of subnational budget transparency, participation, and accountability in Peru was conducted by Grupo Propuesta Ciudadana in 2010. Read more.

Measuring Subnational Budget Transparency, Participation, and Accountability: Mongolia

This study on the state of subnational budget transparency, participation, and accountability in Mongolia was conducted by Open Society Forum in 2010. Read more.

Measuring Subnational Budget Transparency, Participation, and Accountability: Mali

This study on the state of subnational budget transparency, participation, and accountability in Mali was conducted by GREAT Mali in 2010. Read more.

Measuring Subnational Budget Transparency, Participation, and Accountability: Indonesia

This study on the state of subnational budget transparency, participation, and accountability in Indonesia was conducted by Seknas FITRA in 2010. Read more.

Measuring Subnational Budget Transparency, Participation, and Accountability: India

This study on the state of subnational budget transparency, participation, and accountability in India was conducted by the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability in 2010. Read more.

Measuring Subnational Budget Transparency, Participation, and Accountability: Ecuador

This study on the state of subnational budget transparency, participation, and accountability in Ecuador was conducted by Grupo Faro in 2010. Read more.

Measuring Subnational Budget Transparency, Participation, and Accountability: Croatia

This study on the state of subnational budget transparency, participation, and accountability in Croatia was conducted by the Institute for Public Finance in 2010. Read more.

Measuring Subnational Budget Transparency, Participation, and Accountability: Brazil

This study on the state of subnational budget transparency, participation, and accountability in Brazil was conducted by the Institute for Social and Economic Studies in 2010. Read more.

Measuring Subnational Budget Transparency, Participation, and Accountability: Bolivia

This study on the state of subnational budget transparency, participation, and accountability in Bolivia was conducted by the Center for the Study of Labor and Agrarian Development in 2010. Read more.

Measuring Subnational Budget Transparency, Participation, and Accountability: Argentina

This study on the state of subnational budget transparency, participation, and accountability in Argentina was conducted by the Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth in 2010.

Research on the Drivers of Open Budgets and Why Transparency and Participation Matter

Our research and analysis on open budgets looks at the drivers of budget transparency and participation over time, and why transparency and participation matter for accountability systems.

Is the Open Budget Survey Biased Against Francophone Countries?

Prior to the Open Budget Survey (OBS) 2015, the average overall Open Budget Index transparency score of francophone countries were much lower than those of comparable non-francophone countries. This led some French-speaking observers to question whether the OBS is biased against francophone countries. To answer the question of whether there are specific features of francophone countries’ PFM system that are not captured by the OBS, or that may result in bias, IBP commissioned this study.

open budget survey francophone study
Taking Stock of the Volatility of Budget Transparency

“Volatility” in the publication of budget documents — when the public availability of documents containing key budget information changes repeatedly over time — is a common occurrence across countries included in the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey. This Budget Brief presents the results of a study of evidence related to volatility in budget transparency across countries included in the Open Budget Survey, drawing on survey data between 2008 and 2016, public finance management laws, and the strength of government systems linked to the production of budget information.

The Volatility of Budget Transparency
Financing Development for Children in Africa: The State of Budget Transparency and Accountability in the Continent

Published in partnership with UNICEF, this report examines budget transparency and accountability in 31 African countries. Drawing on data from the Open Budget Survey 2015, the report identifies shortcomings across all three pillars of open and accountable budget systems: budget transparency, public participation, and oversight by formal government institutions. The report provides a set of recommendations for how African governments can improve transparency and accountability and ensure that public resources are used in the best interests of the growing population of children in the continent.

Financing Development for Children in Africa
How Does Civil Society Use Budget Information?

Is there a mismatch between the budget information supplied by governments and demand among civil society? This paper examines the “demand side” of fiscal transparency using findings from a global survey of 176 individuals working in civil society that use budget information for analysis and advocacy activities. Based on the responses, the authors identify a “fiscal transparency effectiveness gap” between the fiscal information that governments often provide and the information that CSOs need.

How Civil Society Uses Budget Information
The Road to 61: Achieving Sufficient Levels of Budget Transparency

Using data from the last four rounds of the Open Budget Survey, this paper closely examines the countries whose scores place them in the middle of the Open Budget Index and seeks to answer what these countries can do to increase their scores above 60 — a rough benchmark for when a country can be considered to be publishing sufficient budget information to permit informed public discussions on budgetary matters.

Achieving Sufficient Levels of Budget Transparency
Creating Incentives for Budget Accountability and Good Financial Governance Through an Ecosystem Approach: What Can External Actors Do?

This paper brings together the findings from a joint research project aimed at gaining a better understanding of the role of different accountability actors play in promoting budget transparency and accountability. It explores how different accountability actors collaborate, and the ongoing and potential roles of external actors (such as development partners, implementing agencies and non-government organizations) in providing support to reforms. The research builds on both organizations’ current work in this area, and is based on country studies that were carried out in Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Georgia, Indonesia, Kenya, and South Africa.

Digital Budgets: How are Governments Disclosing Fiscal Information Online?

Governments are increasingly using the digital space as the main avenue for disseminating fiscal information. Despite the ubiquity, there have been relatively few attempts to systematically examine government practices in disclosing budget information online. Developing a better understanding of how (and how well) governments are using websites and other online tools to make budget information available to the public is therefore both crucial and timely. This paper aims to examine online disclosure practices by assessing the websites and portals of 80 countries that were included in the Open Budget Survey 2015.

International Budget Partnership Digital Budget Paper
Credibility and Reliability of Government Budgets: Does Fiscal Transparency Matter?

This paper explores the role of fiscal transparency in affecting budget credibility and reliability, paying particular attention to its effect on budget execution and on the quality of macroeconomic assumptions upon which the budget is based.

Are New PFM Reforms in the WAEMU and the CEMAC Working? Lessons from the Open Budget Survey

The objective of this paper is to revisit the evolution of budget transparency, government accountability, and citizen engagement in the budgetary process in WAEMU and CEMAC countries. It uses the Open Budget Survey to assess Member States’ compliance with new regional PFM Directives and therefore good governance and budget transparency.

Comrades or Culprits? Donor Engagement and Budget Transparency

This article looks at the role of donor agencies in promoting or preventing budget transparency in aid dependent countries. It analyzes data for a sample of 16 aid-dependent countries included in the OBI, to test some preliminary hypotheses and select six countries for which more detailed findings are then presented.

Budget Transparency and Development Outcomes and Rights

The aim of this paper is to explore the relationship between the quality of the budget process and human development outcomes. It looks in particular at at the relationship between the OBI and human development as measured by the Human Development Index (HDI) and a number of related human development indicators, as well as the […]

Political Determinants of Fiscal Transparency

Using a new 85-country dataset, this paper focuses on two important sources of domestic demand for open budgeting: citizens and legislators.

Mineral Wealth and Budget Transparency

How does a country’s mineral wealth affect the transparency of the government’s budget? Among democracies, a country’s mineral wealth is not convincingly related to the transparency of its government. But among autocracies, greater oil wealth is correlated with less fiscal transparency, while greater non-fuel mineral wealth is paradoxically associated with greater transparency.

Budget Transparency and Financial Markets

This paper sheds some light on this issue using an indicator of budget transparency based on a comprehensive global survey conducted by the International Budget Partnership in 2008.

Transparency and Participation in Public Financial Management: What Do Budget Laws Say?

This research note addresses the role of legislation in promoting both disclosure of budgetary information and the provision of opportunities for public and civil society participation throughout the budget process.

Journal Publications

The Open Budget Initiative prepares articles and analyses on budget transparency, participation, and accountability for publication in related academic and policy journals and publications.

Jason Lakin, “The End of Progress Toward Greater Budget Transparency? Findings from the Open Budget Survey 2017,” European Public Mosaic (EPuM). Open Journal on Public Service, Issue 5 (2018).

Jan Seifert, Ruth Carlitz, and Elena Mondo, “The Open Budget Index (OBI) as a Comparative Statistical Tool,” Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, Volume 15, Issue 1 (2013).

Joachim Wehner and Paolo de Renzio, “Citizens, Legislators, and Executive Disclosure: The Political Determinants of Fiscal Transparency,” World Development (July 2012).

Paolo De Renzio and Diego Angemi, “Comrades or Culprits? Donor Engagement and Budget Transparency in Aid-dependent Countries,” Public Administration and Development (May 2012), pp. 167-180.

Paolo de Renzio and Harika Masud, “Measuring and Promoting Budget Transparency: The Open Budget Index as a Research and Advocacy Tool,” Governance (July 2011), pp. 607-616.

Nancy Dubosse and Harika Masud, “Open Budgets, Sustainable Democracies: A Spotlight on the Middle East and North Africa,” Economic Governance Programme, IDASA, International Budget Partnership (IBP), June 2011, p. 10.

Harika Masud and Jason M. Lakin, “Documents You Can Use: What The Open Budget Survey 2010 Tells Us About the Global State of Transparency,” Yale Journal of International Affairs (March 2011), pp. 64-73.

Ruth Carlitz, Paolo de Renzio, Warren Krafchik, and Vivek Ramkumar, “Budget Transparency around the World: Results from the 2008 Open Budget Survey,” OECD Journal on Budgeting, Volume 2009/2, pp. 81-97.

Paolo de Renzio, Pamela Gomez, and James Sheppard, “Budget Transparency and Development in Resource Dependent Countries,” International Social Science Journal, Issue Supplement s1 (2009), pp. 57-69.

Pamela Gomez with Joel Friedman and Isaac Shapiro, “Opening Budgets to Public Understanding and Debate: Results from 36 Countries,” OECDA Journal on Budgeting, Volume 5 No. 1 (2005), pp. 7-36.


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