After the government enacts the budget, there is an ongoing role for civil society organizations (CSOs) in analyzing and assessing how funds are actually spent to implement the policies, programs, and projects outlined in the budget. The budget execution process generally follows five steps:
- Monies are released to various line ministries (or departments/agencies) as per the approved budget
- Agencies initiate expenditures directly or by procuring goods and services
- Payments are made for these expenditures
- Expenditure transactions are recorded in accounting books
- Execution reports (In-Year and Mid-Year) are produced throughout the year, culminating in the closure of the accounting books and the production of Year-End Reports (the final execution report of a given budget year)
In practice, budgets are rarely implemented exactly as approved. This can be for legitimate reasons, such as adjustments in policies in response to changes in economic conditions, or for negative reasons, including mismanagement, unauthorized expenditures, inefficiency, or fraud. CSOs can use analysis during and after budgets are implemented to identify problems in execution and use this information to strengthen their advocacy efforts to increase accountability, improve programs, and inform future budget debates.
There are various tools and methods to assess budget execution, including: