Measuring and Promoting Budget Transparency: The Open Budget Index as a Research and Advocacy Tool

July 2011 | by Paolo de Renzio and Harika Masud

Transparency in public budgeting has been a recognized principle of sound governance for a long time. Yet, reliable measures of budget transparency are hard to come by. This article introduces the Open Budget Index (OBI), a tool based on surveys by independent researchers that compares key budget information published by governments across the world. Data from the 2010 survey covering 94 countries reveal that on average the state of budget transparency around the world is poor. Countries with lower incomes, weaker democratic institutions, and higher dependency on foreign aid and hydrocarbon sales tend to be less transparent. However, a number of countries have improved the quantity and coverage of the budget information that they publish, in some cases following civil society pressure based on the OBI findings. More generally, the OBI data help identify easy steps that governments and other actors could take to further improve budget transparency.



Paolo de Renzio

Senior Research Fellow, International Budget Partnership

Paolo de Renzio joined the International Budget Partnership in October 2010 as Senior Research Fellow and is based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His research agenda covers a broad range of topics, including budget transparency and accountability, equity and justice in budgeting, taxation and tax expenditures, among others. He also supports the team producing the Open Budget Survey. Prior to joining the IBP, Paolo worked as a Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute; as an economist and policy advisor in Papua New Guinea’s Ministry of Finance; and as a UNDP public sector specialist, lecturer, and independent consultant in Mozambique. He has been a consultant for the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the European Commission, and for a number of bilateral donor agencies and international NGOs. Paolo holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Oxford, where his research focused on the impact of donor policies on budget reforms in developing countries. He also holds an MSc in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from ‘Bocconi’ in Milan, Italy.

About this resource
Related topics & Initiatives
Related Countries & Regions