Budget Brief No 34 – Digital Budgets: Improving How Fiscal Information is Disseminated Online

Publication Type: Budget Briefs
February 2016 | By Jorge Romero León, Diego de la Mora, Liliana Ruiz, and David Robins

IBP Budget Brief Digital BudgetsOver the last two decades, the spread of information and communication technologies has seen governments increasingly use websites and dedicated portals to disseminate budget information. As the Open Budget Survey (OBS) shows, in 2006 80 percent of publicly available budget documents were also published online. By 2015 this had jumped to 96 percent. In many cases, online availability has replaced physical distribution as the main avenue for making budget information available to the public.

This brief examines emerging practices in publishing budget information online. It draws on research by Fundar, a Mexican civil society organization, which examined websites and portals of 80 governments worldwide, proposing a framework through which to assess online disclosure of budget information.

Key Messages

  • Governments are increasingly disseminating fiscal information through websites and dedicated budget portals. Portals, in particular, have the potential to provide easy access to detailed and up-to-date budget data.
  • Government practice in disseminating budget information online can be assessed along four dimensions: scope, accessibility, reliability and feedback.
  • The research found that countries do better on scope than on accessibility and reliability, and that few governments are providing channels for users to submit feedback.
  • The findings suggest that governments can improve their online disclosure practices by setting up a dedicated portal for budget information. Such portals should provide tools and resources that help users understand the raw data; establish standards that instill confidence in the data; and provide channels for users to submit feedback.