Budget Brief No. 28 – Has the U.S. Become More Serious about Fiscal Transparency Globally?

Publication Type: Budget Briefs

Each year, the U.S Department of State conducts an assessment of the fiscal transparency of countries eligible to receive U.S. assistance and publishes its findings. This brief examines the 2014 Fiscal Transparency Report, outlines its findings, highlights improvements made to the way the Department of State is assessing transparency, and recommends ways to further improve future assessments.

Key Points

  • ​ In January 2015, the U.S. Department of State published its 2014 Fiscal Transparency Report, which assesses the transparency of countries eligible to receive U.S. assistance. The Department of State previously produced and published Fiscal Transparency Reports in both 2012 and 2013.
  • The report finds that, of the 140 countries assessed, 90 meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency; 11 countries have “made significant progress” in improving fiscal transparency; and 39 have “not made significant progress.”
  • There have been some notable shifts in individual countries assessments. For example, Saudi Arabia, which scored 1 out of 100 on the 2012 Open Budget Index, was found to be “making progress” in previous reports. This latest report finds the country is “not making significant progress.”
  • This latest report is a significant improvement on past reports. First, its findings suggest an improved methodology for assessing fiscal transparency; second, the assessments are no longer tied to country’s eligibility to receive U.S aid.
  • There are a three further improvements that should be made to future assessments: clearly define which budget documents must be made publically available; increase the visibility of future fiscal transparency assessments; and establish a single assessment of fiscal transparency.