Guides

The Power of Making It Simple: A Government Guide to Developing Citizens Budgets

Governments can encourage citizen participation by creating conditions that enable them to participate in a meaningful way. A very important one of these conditions is that all citizens have ready access to government information. Access means not simply physical access to documents, but accessibility. Where the government’s work is highly technical, it is not sufficient to simply make technical documents available. Citizens should have access to information in a language and through formats that ordinary people can understand and appreciate.

This guide is third in a series of IBP publications for governments seeking practical guidance on how to make their public finance systems more transparent. It follows the Guide to Transparency in Government Budget Reports: Why Are Budget Reports Important and What Should They Include? (2010) and the Guide to Transparency in Public Finances: Looking Beyond the Core Budget (2011). The Power of Making It Simple complements these two by focusing specifically on Citizens Budgets and offering useful tips to governments interested in developing one.

 

Guide to Transparency in Government Budget Reports: Why are Budget Reports Important, and What Should They Include?

Governments are increasingly responding to internal and external calls to increase the level of transparency in their public budget processes and systems as a way to manage public resources more efficiently and effectively so as to better respond to the needs and priorities of their citizens.  This guide was designed to support governments in their efforts to meet international good practice standards on budget transparency by providing in one resource guidance on what reports and documents they should be producing and making available throughout the budget process, what information should be in those reports, and links to model documents from other countries.  The guide covers the Pre-Budget Statement, Executive’s Budget Proposal, Citizens Budget, Enacted Budget, In-Year Reports, Mid-Year Review, Year-End Report, and Audit Report.

 

Guide to Transparency in Government Budget Reports: How Civil Society Can Use Budget Reports for Research and Advocacy

Civil society organizations have a critical role to play in government budget processes. They can inform the decision-making process to ensure that public resources are being used effectively to meet public needs, and they can monitor the actual execution of budget policies and programs to hold government to account, thus reducing opportunities for corruption and mismanagement. This guide provides essential information on how civil society organizations can use, and have used, the eight key budget reports that their government should be making available throughout the budget process — the Pre-Budget Statement, Executive’s Budget Proposal, Citizens Budget, Enacted Budget, In-Year Reports, Mid-Year Review, Year-End Report, and Audit Report — for research and advocacy purposes.

 

A Guide to Transparency in Public Finances: Looking Beyond the Budget

For more than a decade, civil society organizations around the world, as well as international financial institutions, have been pushing for governments to provide the public with more comprehensive budget information. The International Budget Partnership’s (IBP) Open Budget Survey examines the accessibility in countries around the world of eight key budget reports that governments should publish in order to enable civil society, oversight institutions, and members of the public to participate effectively in budget processes and hold governments accountable for how they use public money. In two companion guides to the briefs listed below — the Guide to Transparency in Government Budget Reports: Why Are Budget Reports Important, and What Should They Include? and the Guide to Transparency in Government Budget Reports: How Civil Society Can Use Budget Reports for Research and Advocacy — the IBP describes the importance of each key budget report, the information that it should contain, and how civil society organizations can use them.

This is a compendium of five briefs that goes beyond the eight key budget reports covered in the guides to examine other areas of public finance that are less well understood and especially vulnerable to efforts to shield them from public scrutiny.

The five briefs are:

1. Extrabudgetary Funds
2. Tax Expenditures *
3. Quasi-fiscal Activities
4. Contingent Liabilities
5. Future Liabilities

 

*The Brief on Tax Expenditures draws heavily on a background paper (available here) written by Mark Burton and Miranda Stewart of the University of Melbourne.

All of the briefs examine the following questions:

1.  What are these issues or activities, and why are they of interest?

2.  What information should the government include in budget documents and other reports on these issues in order to provide a comprehensive picture of the government’s fiscal position and increase the public’s understanding of how their money is being utilized?

3.  How can civil society groups use information contained in these documents to achieve their research and advocacy goals?

4.  Where can further information, country examples, and “model reports” be found?

The briefs are based on existing guidance and practices related to these areas of public finance gathered from various sources. In some cases, concrete examples are scarce, as these are new and complex areas of public budgeting.

Click here to read the combined document that includes all information from the above five guides. You may also read the combined guide in Spanish and in French.

 

Budget Work Around the World

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How does budget transparency affect people’s lives

Social Audits in Kenya: Budget Transparency and Accountability The activities of Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), a civil society organization (CSO) based in Mombasa, Kenya, demonstrate the significant role budget transparency plays in improving accountability. Read more >>

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