Advancing Norms and Standards for Open Budgeting

Establishing a set of global norms and standards on budget transparency, accountability, and participation is an important part of IBP’s international advocacy work. Global norms and standards for open budgeting provide a common understanding of the reforms that are needed to make progress. They also help local and international civil society to call out governments that fail to meet the standards. While there is still much work to be done, since we began advocating in 2012 for widely supported norms and standards for open budgeting, significant progress has been made through multiple initiatives:

The Open Budget Survey

IBP’s biennial Open Budget Survey is the only independent, comparative, and regular global measure of budget transparency, participation, and accountability. The survey evaluates whether governments give the public access to budget information and opportunities to participate in the budget process at the national level. It also assesses the role and effectiveness of formal oversight institutions. Findings from the survey help our civil society partners advocate for improvements in budget transparency, participation, and accountability. Finance ministries and development practitioners around the world also use the survey to identify baselines and trends in country practices and to implement reforms in line with identified gaps and recommendations.

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The Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT)

IBP, along with a wide range of actors and institutions involved in public financial management, formed the multistakeholder Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) to develop and establish international norms for budget transparency, accountability, and participation. GIFT brought together the perspectives of civil society organizations, governments, donors, international finance institutions, and professional associations to establish 10 high-level principles on budget transparency, participation, and accountability. These principles —endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 (UNGA Resolution 67/218) — provide a blueprint for realistic and workable reforms that recognize the centrality of open and participatory budgets. The principles have driven significant progress in establishing public participation as a core principle of effective budgeting. For example:

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which advises 188 member states on improving public finance management, has adopted “public participation in budget deliberations” as a new principle in its Fiscal Transparency Code.
  • The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has similarly recognized the importance of budget participation in its Principles of Budgetary Governance.

Given the limited guidance on how public entities should engage directly with the public in managing public resources (Principle 10), GIFT embarked on a substantial multiyear work program to increase awareness of promising country practices and recent innovations in citizen engagement. In 2016, after an extensive public consultation process, GIFT launched a new set of principles: the Principles of Public Participation in Fiscal Policy, with a companion Public Participation Principles Guide. GIFT continues to work as a global network with governments, civil society, international financial institutions, and the private sector to find and share solutions to challenges in fiscal transparency and participation through peer learning, technical assistance, research, and tech for participation.

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The Open Government Partnership

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is an international initiative that brings together governments, civil society, and industry to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The OGP provides an international platform for domestic reformers committed to making their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens. OGP was launched in 2011 by the governments of Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States; the Transparency and Accountability Initiative; and IBP and seven other civil society organizations. IBP Executive Director Warren Krafchik served as OGP’s Co-Chair for Civil Society from 2012 through 2013.

In addition to IBP’s leadership role in the initiative, the OGP uses select indicators of government fiscal transparency from its biennial Open Budget Survey as one of the eligibility criteria for membership in the partnership.

The OGP provides a major opportunity for IBP’s civil society partners in OGP countries around the world to be involved in establishing and implementing open budgeting commitments as part of their country’s OGP National Action Plan. Both IBP and GIFT have played active roles in OGP’s Fiscal Openness Working Group to advance global norms and standards for open budgeting. We continue to engage in the OGP process at all levels to ensure fiscal openness commitments are fulfilled.

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