Open Budget Survey 2012 finds that the state of budget transparency and accountability is generally dismal. Only a minority of governments publish significant budget information. Fewer still provide appropriate mechanisms for public participation, and independent oversight institutions frequently lack appropriate resources and leverage. A large number of countries have made no changes, or made only a few changes, to their budget systems in recent years and continue to provide insufficient information. Some countries are even headed in the wrong direction; their systems have become more closed.

There has been progress, however. Average budget transparency scores have risen in nearly all parts of the world. Progress has been especially steady and significant among those countries where the least budget information had been provided. Some countries have seen dramatic improvements, brought about by a combination of government commitment and domestic and external incentives and pressure.

Indeed, the 2012 Survey evidence suggests that any country, irrespective of geographical location or income level, can perform well on budget transparency. The importance of a government’s political will to achieve better budget transparency cannot be overstated.