Collaborating for Open Budgets

Our Collaborating for Open and Accountable Budgets initiative is building a broad, diverse global movement of civil society groups with the skills to actively engage in budget processes and promote accountability. We have expanded to 42 countries with support from the European Commission.


This work is supported by the European Commission.

We are supporting partners to strengthen budget analysis and advocacy skills and to collectively mobilize and engage reform champions, oversight institutions and other allies to ensure public budgets are delivering for all people.

We have provided in-depth and tailored training to more than 250 civil society groups in 24 countries to build their skills and knowledge of how to analyze budgets and advocate for reform. In each country, we targeted a diverse pool of civil society organizations, including faith-based organizations, youth groups and media organizations focused on issues such as health, women’s rights and anti-corruption. We sought out partners in countries that had little history of citizen involvement in budget processes. At the outset, almost all the target countries had opaque budget processes, lacked strong budget oversight institutions, and did not have robust civil society engagement on budget issues. The program uses the Open Budget Survey, Advocacy and Capacity Development to change these dynamics.


Local researchers collaborate on the Open Budget Survey (OBS) to identify gaps in transparency and participation practices in their country. Our partners then use this data to inform their goals and monitor progress as they advocate for their governments to pursue more open budget practices.

Capacity Building:

Together with in-person training, our foundational online learning platform introduces organizations to some of the basic concepts and tools of budget work. Participants examine how adding a budget lens to their work adds value. They familiarize themselves with the country’s budget process and basic budget information, discuss the different budget actors and outline the power and relationships between them. And they learn the importance of accessing policy and budget information and channels for participation.


We have built deep relationships with civil society partners in countries where we provide advocacy support. We collaborate with partners to connect their agendas with the legislative, budget and media cycles in their countries. They also learn to use the budget information that is available to drive reforms in other priority areas, such as education, gender equity, debt, etc. We strengthen engagement between civil society and governments, and leverage connections with international partners and initiatives to secure, document, and follow up on government commitments.

We have shown that even in countries with a history of opaque budgeting processes, governments can engage in meaningful dialogue with civil society about making budget processes more transparent, inclusive, and accountable. Governments in all 15 of the target countries included in the 2021 OBS were responsive to the Survey’s findings released on May 31, 2022. Across COAB countries, civil society convened with the government to discuss the Survey findings and the actions they can take to improve transparency, participation and oversight in their countries.

We have demonstrated that, with political will and local advocacy, progress is possible anywhere by documenting improvements in open budgeting practices and identifying areas for future reform. For example, Bolivia’s OBS transparency score increased from 12 to 20; The Gambia from 4 to 35; Jamaica from 42 to 50; Niger from 17 to 27; Tanzania from 17 to 21; and Tunisia from 35 to 42.

This is just the beginning of the journey for our partners. As we continue to build their advocacy skills and budget knowledge, we will extend our support to civil society organizations in the Western Balkans and Middle East and North Africa, and forge deeper relationships with our partners by providing more hands-on support and mentoring. The skills and knowledge imparted through the project will enable partners to undertake more effective budget advocacy and, ultimately, center citizen voices in public spending decisions. 

This project is implemented with support from the European Commission.

Key Takeaways


countries are included in the project


organizations engage in skills training


people are supported and mentored

Where We Work in this Area



Join us and our many international and national partners to urge governments to:

  1. Establish meaningful, inclusive spaces to engage the public in budget processes.
  2. Curtail executive overreach and empower legislators and auditors’ oversight roles.
  3. Disclose more and better budget information.
  4. Sustain progress by institutionalizing accountability reforms.

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