Budget Brief No. 28 – Has the U.S. Become More Serious about Fiscal Transparency Globally?

Each year, the U.S Department of State conducts an assessment of the fiscal transparency of countries eligible to receive U.S. assistance and publishes its findings. This brief examines the 2014 Fiscal Transparency Report, outlines its findings, highlights improvements made to the way the Department of State is assessing transparency, and recommends ways to further improve future assessments.

Key Points

  • ​ In January 2015, the U.S. Department of State published its 2014 Fiscal Transparency Report, which assesses the transparency of countries eligible to receive U.S. assistance. The Department of State previously produced and published Fiscal Transparency Reports in both 2012 and 2013.
  • The report finds that, of the 140 countries assessed, 90 meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency; 11 countries have “made significant progress” in improving fiscal transparency; and 39 have “not made significant progress.”
  • There have been some notable shifts in individual countries assessments. For example, Saudi Arabia, which scored 1 out of 100 on the 2012 Open Budget Index, was found to be “making progress” in previous reports. This latest report finds the country is “not making significant progress.”
  • This latest report is a significant improvement on past reports. First, its findings suggest an improved methodology for assessing fiscal transparency; second, the assessments are no longer tied to country’s eligibility to receive U.S aid.
  • There are a three further improvements that should be made to future assessments: clearly define which budget documents must be made publically available; increase the visibility of future fiscal transparency assessments; and establish a single assessment of fiscal transparency.
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Budget Brief No. 28 Has the US Become More Serious about Fiscal Transparency Globally.pdf

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Authors

Vivek Ramkumar

Senior Director of Policy

Vivek Ramkumar joined the International Budget Partnership (IBP) in 2005 and currently is Senior Director of Policy. In this capacity, he oversees IBP’s research and advocacy efforts to expand the adoption of transparent and accountable budget systems around the world. As Senior Director, Vivek stands-in for the Executive Director, as requested. Vivek previously worked with the MKSS – an organization that pioneered the Right to Information movement in India. He also worked with a Mumbai-based nongovernmental organization called SPARC, which is part of the Shack/Slum Dwellers International. Vivek is a qualified Chartered Accountant and holds an MA from the London School of Economics.

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