Open Budget Initiative
The Open Budget Initiative is a global research and advocacy program to promote public access to budget information and the adoption of accountable budget systems.
IBP launched the Initiative with the Open Budget Survey—a comprehensive analysis and survey that evaluates whether governments give the public access to budget information and opportunities to participate in the budget process at the national level. The IBP works with civil society partners in 102 countries to collect the data for the Survey. The first Open Budget Survey was released in 2006 and will be conducted biennially.
To easily measure the overall commitment of the countries surveyed to transparency and to allow for comparisons among countries, IBP created the Open Budget Index (OBI) from the Survey. The OBI assigns a score to each country based on the information it makes available to the public throughout the budget process.
In September 2014, IBP launched the Open Budget Survey Tracker (www.obstracker.org), an online monitoring tool allowing citizens, civil society, media, and others to monitor in real time whether central governments are releasing the requisite information on how the government is managing public finances.
The budget is a government’s plan for how it is going to use the public’s resources to meet the public’s needs. Transparency means all of a country’s people can access information on how much is allocated to different types of spending, what revenues are collected, and how international donor assistance and other public resources are used. The IBP believes that open budgets are empowering; they allow people to be the judge of whether or not their government officials are good stewards of public funds.
While providing the public with comprehensive and timely information on the government’s budget and financial activities and opportunities to participate in decision making can strengthen oversight and improve policy choices, keeping the process closed can have the opposite effect. Restricting access to information creates opportunities for governments to hide unpopular, wasteful, and corrupt spending, ultimately reducing the resources available to fight poverty.
Since a significant amount of poverty-reducing expenditures take place at the subnational level, the Initiative also has initiated a major new effort to support work on budget transparency and accountability at this level.
The Open Budget Initiative plans to collaborate with civil society organizations worldwide to undertake research and advocacy to raise public awareness of the connections between budget transparency and people’s daily lives to mobilize public support for reform.