Defense Budgets and Civilian Oversight

Using a wide range of countries at different levels of democratic development, this piece analyzes civilian and military participation in four steps of the budget process: 1) budget formation by the executive 2) enactment into law by the parliament 3) disbursement and spending of funds 4) evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness of money spent.

The analysis concludes that civilians and their democratically elected representatives have not been successful in controlling how money is spent on national security issues. The reasons for this failure are found in the lack of attention to national security issues (viewing this issue as one closed to debate), weak institutions in controlling defense spending i.e. few civilian Ministers of Defense, and a lack of civil society mobilization on the issue.

View Publication