Results from the Open Budget Survey 2015 reveal large gaps in the amount of budget information that governments are making available to the public. The Survey found that around one-third of budget documents that should be available to the public are not. They were either not produced at all, produced for internal use only, or published too late to be useful.
Between 2012 and 2015, the average OBI score for the 100 countries for which comparable data are available increased from 43 to 46. This march toward progress holds up when looking at a longer time frame. Enthusiasm over these signs of progress in budget transparency, however, should be tempered. The progress is from a low base.
The Survey results indicate that most countries currently provide few opportunities for the public to participate in budget processes. Among the countries surveyed in 2015, the average score for participation is just 25 out of 100. This suggests that meaningful channels for the public to engage in the formal budget process are rare in the vast majority of countries.
In 2015 the average score for legislative strength is 48 out of 100. The average score for supreme audit institution strength in 2015 is 65 out of 100, indicating they are typically reasonably independent and have sufficient resources to carry out their work. Still, 43 countries score below 60, suggesting their supreme audit institutions are unable to adequately perform their responsibilities.
Unleashing a virtuous cycle, in which the three pillars of budget accountability are strengthened, ultimately requires governments to act. Building the political will of governments to do so, however, often requires the active, persistent, and mutually reinforcing engagement of a wide range of actors. The overarching challenge is to translate the global discourse, which now almost universally embraces the role of accountable budget systems, into real and sustained improvements at the national level.