Policy Innovations / Budget process

Budget process

When I send my child to the market with 10 rupees to buy something, I demand an account of the money I have given him when he returns home. Similarly, when the government spends my money, I have the right to ask for an accounting of these expenditures.

Susheela Devi, Mother

How, where and why a government chooses to raise and spend public money is fundamental to the role of government and shapes its relationship with society. In many ways, transparency in this area is key to transparency and accountability in all other areas. When budgets and budgetary processes are open and transparent, citizens have a chance to participate in their development which can lead to more efficient and effective use of funds. They can also hold the government to account for how those funds are spent.

The budget monitoring movement has grown from the ‘bottom up’. Over the last decade, initiatives to promote transparency in budgets have emerged in a wide variety of countries. Their experience has produced a wealth of successful budget monitoring tools. However, its ‘Home grown’ character means the issue lacks an international profile or platform, a set of global norms and the galvanized international support given to comparable transparency and accountability work in the field of natural resources, for example.

Mainstreaming budget transparency

The Transparency and Accountability Initiative (T/A Initiative) is working to make budget transparency a mainstream international issue. We are promoting support for an international budget oversight platform and sustainable funding in the budget sector. To achieve this, the T/A Initiative is focusing its efforts on international donors and their policies.

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To encourage best practice in this field, our research has looked at how civil society in developing and middle-income countries – including Brazil, India and Uganda – have worked to improve transparency and accountability around budgets, expenditure and procurement. We assessed the impact of such measures and explored new ways in which this work can be improved.

The innovative programmes and policy proposals emerging from our research are designed to help donors, governments, policy-makers and practitioners bring their work on budgets to the next level building on the successes, failures and experience of the past 15 years of activities in the field.

Our work on budgets provides an essential link to some of our other areas of research in the Policy innovation workstream: climate change; donor aid; financial sector reformnatural resource governance and open government partnership.

Our work on transparency and accountability includes two other strands of work:

  • Read about the New Technologies working group which is helping to stimulate and advance the wider use of new technologies in the transparency and accountability field
  • Learn about the Impact and Learning working group which reviews the impact of transparency and accountability initiatives worldwide.