What’s new in budget work and research around the world

We’ve compiled a list of news articles, blog posts, publications, and other materials from this week related to budgets and civil society work, as well as governance and development issues more generally.


Top News

Working with Budgets and Spending Data (School of Data)

  • The School of Data, whose goal is to empower CSOs, journalists, and citizens with the skills they need to use data effectively, has an online course on working with budget and spending data.

Does transparency improve governance? Reviewing evidence from 16 experimental evaluations (Journalist’s Resource)

  • This post summarizes the research process and conclusions published in a new article (paywalled) by Stephen Kosack and Archon Fung in the Annual Review of Political Science on the link between transparency and governanceThe authors say that the evidence shows “reason for enthusiasm about the power of information to catalyze meaningful governance reforms.”

When is civil society a force for social transformation? (OpenDemocracy)

  • This article looks at the question of why the huge growth of civil society organizations in the world today hasn’t led to an increase in their impact. The author postulates two main reasons for this: 1) civil society groups are increasingly divorced from the forces that drive deeper social change, and 2) structures that used to mediate between people of different views and backgrounds have largely disappeared, which has led to disagreements among those participating in politics and civic life.

The Public Expenditure Management Peer Assisted Learning (PEMPAL) plenary meeting was held this week in Moscow. Warren Krafchik, director of IBP, gave a presentation on the work of IBP around budget transparency and citizen engagement, and Juan Pablo Guerrero spoke about the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT). Here’s a few tweets from Juan Pablo at the event:JPG PEMPAL


Debating the Success of OGP

The Ambition of Open Government Partnership (Open Up Blog)

  • Martin Tisne shares his reflections on OGP developments over the last 3 years in light of the recent series of OGP events in Asia and Europe.

Near 3-Year Mark, Open Government Partnership Success Still Unclear (TechPresident)

  • This post is related to Tisne’s above commentary on the successes of OGP commitments. By digging deeper into the OGP data and getting comments from Tisne and others involved in OGP, the author questions how clear OGP’s success really is.



What if “corruption” is a concept that has outlived its usefulness? (The Campaign for Boring Development)

  • “What’s peculiar about the situation in today’s Least Developed Countries is that donor countries have exported the category of “corrupt” to describe behaviours that are deviant in the donor countries, but essential to preserving political order and preventing generalized violence in the recipient countries.”

Corruption, Politics, and Public Service Reform in the Digital Age (World Bank’s Governance for Development Blog)


Regional Research

East African prospects: an update on the political economy of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda (Overseas Development Institute)

  • This report provides an update on the political economy of four East African countries and is based on published research, media reports, the authors’ inside knowledge on certain topics, and recent interviews with well-placed observers in the region.

Decentralization in the Arab World Must be Strengthened to Provide Better Services (Jadaliyya)

  • This post summarizes the findings and common themes from recent case studies on decentralization and service delivery in the Arab world. It touches on a number of important governance issues including participation and accountability, and the role of fiscal rules and structures is referenced throughout.


Multistakeholder Initiatives

The political economy of multi-stakeholder initiatives (World Bank’s Governance for Development Blog)

  • This post describes a recent workshop in Ethiopia with civil society and government to demonstrate the potential benefits and impacts of multistakeholder initiatives.

Thinking politically about the role of MSIs in Governance (World Bank’s Governance for Development Blog)

  • “The recent rapid expansion of multi-stakeholders initiatives (MSI) promoting improved governance raises critical questions about the role of these mechanisms in addressing problems of government transparency, responsiveness, and accountability, specifically whether and how they generate on-the-ground impact.”


Fiscal Transparency Reviews

IMF Publishes Fiscal Transparency Evaluation for Russia (IMF)

  • This evaluation, which was carried out at the request of the Russian government, recognizes the progress that Russia has made in strengthening fiscal disclosure as well as highlights a number of areas for improvement.

Vietnam fiscal transparency review: analysis and stakeholder feedback on state budget information in the public domain (World Bank)

  • This report aims to complement ongoing PFM reviews to help identify relatively low cost measures to strengthen fiscal transparency in Vietnam.


Budget Visualizations

Papua New Guinea Spending Wheel (Pacific Institute of Public Policy)

  • Interactive visualization of how the government of PNG spends its money

Where does your 1000 Vatu go? (Pacific Institute of Public Policy)

  • Infographic of Vanuatu government spending


Country News

Transparency and Nigeria’s Health Budget (Daily Trust, Nigeria)

  • Reviews the state of budget transparency generally and looks more in depth at Nigeria’s health budget.

FY 2014/2015 state budget referred to presidency for approval (Daily News Egypt)

  • The Egyptian government released its budget on the first day of the presidential election.

All stakeholders to be taken on board in budget process (Business Recorder, Pakistan)

  • Pakistan’s Minister of Finance said government plans to make a multistakeholder commission to consult on 2014-15 budget.

New Bunge body to oversee budget process (Daily News, Tanzania)

  • The Tanzanian Parliament is to create new department and legislation to oversee the operations of the budget committee for better use of public funds.

Citizen participation key in management of public funds (Zambia Daily Mail)

Participatory Budgeting in Cameroon: Booklovers, Mayors and Citizens (OGP Blog)

  • This post discusses the experiences of participatory budgeting in Cameroon, which are detailed further in a recent publication from the Africa Research Institute.


Post-2015 Development Agenda

Post-2015 resources round-up (

A sneak peek at UN progress on post-2015 (

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