Accurate, timely, and comprehensive information during each stage of the budget cycle is required to ensure the accountability of government to citizens. The Open Budget Index’s results suggest that 90 percent of the countries covered do not meet this standard. More than a third of the countries provide minimal or no budget information to citizens. This list of poor performers includes a diverse group of low-income and middle-income countries from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle-East.
Also of concern are the survey findings related to the governmental accountability mechanisms built into the budget process. The responses to the survey suggest that in many countries, neither the executive nor the legislature appears committed to making full use of opportunities to engage and inform the public of the proposed budget. The survey also finds substantial and widespread weaknesses in the independent external auditing institutions of the countries surveyed.
The index shows that strong transparency practices are possible in both developed and developing countries. What is clear is that the level of budget transparency in a country is strongly influenced by the willingness of the government to be accountable to its citizenry, and that lack of capacity to produce information is not an overriding constraint. In other words, the countries that have performed the most poorly on the Open Budget Index cannot take refuge in capacity constraints — sharp improvements in transparency are possible in short periods with modest resources.