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GIFT Newsletter #50
1) Becoming user-centered and agile to improve fiscal transparency 
2) Important updates on the Fiscal Openness Accelerator Project
3) The impact of COVID-19 on fiscal transparency and public participation
4) Open Data and Covid-19: Looking Forward Towards Government Readiness and Reform
5) Confirmation of the Network Director for the period 2020-2023
6) Tarick Gracida is moving forward from GIFT
7) Pronouncement of Latin American civil society organizations on the COVID-19 crisis response
8) Principles on the Right of Access to Information during the health emergency
9) U.S. Department of State 2020 Fiscal Transparency Report
10) Luminate’s Open Call for Proposals on Audit Reform
11) Did COVID-19 find digital governments prepared?
12) Fiscal Transparency in Times of Emergency Response: Reflections for Covid-19. Now in Georgian!
13) Police reforms require budget reforms
14) Promoting Fiscal Transparency and Accountability Worldwide
15) Job opportunity at the International Budget Partnership
Becoming user-centered and agile to improve fiscal transparency
 June 25
 
As bonus material to the Tutorial on Fiscal Transparency: a User-Centered Development, we have published three interviews with GIFT Stewards and partners that provide significant insights and tips about the process of developing digital tools for fiscal transparency from government, civil society or through coalitions.
 
We are sure that these interviews will be of great use to all of our Stewards from governments, civil society and international organization who already manage or want to develop CivicTech tools


Developing tools from a coalition between civil society and government - Interview with Zukiswa Kota from the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM), South Africa.
Developing tools from civil society - Interview with Daniel Carranza from DATA Uruguay.
Developing tools from government - Interview with Paula Manera from the Office of Planning and Budget, Presidency, Uruguay.
 Important updates on the Fiscal Openness Accelerator Project
June
Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency
This month Hon. Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed and Hon. Minister of State Budget, and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, of Nigeria formally inaugurated the public participation pilot advisory group for the country, through which government officials and civil society representatives will design and monitor the implementation of public participation mechanisms. We are delighted to see this initiative moving forward, even with the added challenges that social distancing brings at the time.

We are delighted to announce that the Minister of Economy of Benin, Romuald Wadagni, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Budget Partnership/GIFT to formalize the Fiscal Openness Accelerator project in the country, through which we will support the improvement of fiscal transparency in the country and implement a pilot on public participation.
 
Stay up to date on the Fiscal Openness Accelerator by visiting the repository section in our website.

 The impact of COVID-19 on fiscal transparency and public participation
June 23

Following the lessons from the book of de Renzio, Khagram and Fung—The political economy of fiscal transparency, participation, and accountability around the world—the author argues that after the emergency, the incentives for governments to enhance transparency are going to be strong. He also sees that post-crisis, countries may have an opportunity to realign their priorities towards development objectives. Read the blog post here.

 Open Data and Covid-19: Looking Forward Towards Government Readiness and Reform
June 11
OECD

Government Data, with the topic of Open Data & Covid-19: Looking forward towards government readiness & reform. As part of this virtual event, a specific break-out group was dedicated to Trust – Open data and financial integrity. In it, together with the participants, we reflected on the current fragmented data architecture and the challenges for gathering quality fiscal data that can be readily available in cases of emergency, such as the one we are facing now. Remarkably, we continue to witness a generalized preoccupation on the lack of integration among data and flexibility of internal systems.

As part of the event, the OECD has also recently presented the Open, Useful and Re-usable data (OURdata) Index: 2019 and is preparing the 2021 edition. This index includes provides a detailed analysis of the results for each pillar and sub-pillar and assesses the main advancements and challenges related to the design and implementation of open government data policies in OECD member and partner countries.

In the coming weeks the Network will also be invited to provide comments and react to the draft Good Practice Principles for Data Ethics in the Public Sector prepared by the Thematic Group on Data-Driven Public Sector of the OECD Working Party of Senior Digital Government Officials (E-Leaders). We will keep you informed about ways to engage!

GIFT COORDINATION TEAM NEWS
 Juan Pablo Guerrero was confirmed as Network Director for the period 2020-2023
June
We are pleased to inform you that the GIFT’s Lead Stewards evaluated and approved Juan Pablo Guerrero’s performance, review and agreed to renew his contract as GIFT’s Network Director for the period 2020-23. This endorsement signals a strong engagement of the lead stewards to continue working with GIFT’s Coordination Team to advance the mission of the network. GIFT’s Lead Stewards include the IBP, World Bank, IMF, IFAC, and the National Budget Authorities of the Governments of Brazil, the Philippines and Mexico.
 
In thanking the lead stewards, Juan Pablo stated: “Your unanimous endorsement honors me and motivates me to work even harder. As you know, we have been through a difficult time in which the sustainability of the network was at the center of challenging discussions while we faced funding difficulties coupled with the issue of leadership renewal. To move through this period, your trust and encouragement were essential. I thank you all for the time you spent thinking, with me and as a group, about the relevance and future of the network. I particularly appreciate the IBP and its board members, who agreed to continue nesting our network, as this discussion continues. I am also deeply grateful to the GIFT’s coordination team, who ensure that the network continues to be innovative, responsive and a resource for those members determined to push our cause. We are now ready to continue building together a network that complements its parts individually, while it enhances the impact when acting together, in the cause of guiding fiscal transparency and public participation norms and helping members and partners in having a more open and effective use of public resources. More so now, after the catastrophic and long-term effects of COVID-19 in many areas, including public finances”.  
 Tarick Gracida is moving forward to continue building up an outstanding career
June 30
After five years of amazing work and contributions to the GIFT Network, Tarick Gracida is moving on, advancing his great professional career. We are very proud and endlessly grateful, but we also know we will miss him greatly.

Tarick has, no doubt, been a crucial component of the success of our network. As Coordinator for Technology and Communications, Tarick has been instrumental in making our messages compelling, remarkable and persuasive. His versatility is legendary, including the development of our graphics and communications, as well as providing technical assistance to GIFT’s stewards on communication strategies and engagement with the public. He has brought to the agenda of fiscal transparency, the development of user-centered tools and communications, which has certainly strengthened the aim of achieving a meaningful publication and engagement.

From the beginning, Tarick's creative and innovative capacity was remarkable, and over time, the scope and strength of his graphic and artistic expression have grown, becoming one of the most forceful characteristics of the network.

We congratulate the Avina Foundation for making Tarick part of their team. We are very proud of Tarick. And on behalf of the network: gracias Tarick, un millón de veces gracias.
 GIFT Coordination team has joined civil society organizations from Latin America pronouncement on the COVID-19 crisis management
May 15
Directorio Legislativo

GIFT’s Coordination Team has joined Directorio Legislativo and other civil society organizations that work in Latin America, in the positioning on some points that, we believe, will be critical and on which Latin American and Caribbean governments must move forward as quickly as possible to guarantee quality public policies that respond to the crisis. Read more here.

 GIFT Coordination team has undersigned the Principles on the right of Access to Information during the health emergency
May 27
Regional Alliance for Freedom of Expression and Information
In the last months, the absence of policies and principles on transparency and access to information in times of health catastrophes is reflected in the authorities’ lack of coordination, as well as limited performance of primary tasks by the very agencies that comprise the oversight body. In certain countries of the region, this situation has led to infringement of the right to access citizen information −a right that is imperative if we are to preserve the health, security and physical safety of persons, as well as understanding other rights.
 
Because of that, the Regional Alliance for Freedom of Expression and Information, with the support of more than a dozen organizations and regional networks with expertise in the themes of transparency and access to information, presented a proposal of Principles on the right of ATI in times of health emergencies. The GIFT coordination team has joined in undersigning this initiative. Read more here.
COMMUNITY WALL
 2020 Fiscal Transparency Report
Jun 15
United States Department of State

The United States Department of State in accordance to the Department Of State, Foreign Operations And Related Programs Appropriations Act has released the Fiscal Transparency Report of 2020. The report assesses whether governments meet minimum requirements of fiscal transparency, including having key budget documents that are publicly available, substantially complete, and generally reliable and the review of the processes for awarding government contracts and licenses for natural resource extraction. The Department concluded that, of the 141 governments evaluated, 76 met minimum requirements of fiscal transparency.  Two governments, Samoa and Togo, met minimum requirements in 2020 after not meeting minimum requirements in 2019.  Sixty-five governments did not meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency.  Of these 65, however, 14 governments made significant progress toward meeting the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency.

This link contains the report, including the description of the challenges faced by the countries that do not meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency.

 Luminate’s Open Call for Proposals on Audit Reform
Jun 30
There is a real human cost when audit fails. Audits are also a vital contributor to the trust and confidence that is required in a modern economy. Failure in audit undermines public trust both in the companies being audited (and often delivering public services) and in the state institutions that should be regulating them.
 
Continuing Luminate’s work from this side, they have now launched an open call for proposals on audit reform. They are seeking to support a small number of initiatives that will address:


1. Policy work to inform the UK Government’s current reform agenda in the next 12 months, especially the forthcoming consultation on reform of the Financial Reporting Council.
2. Building a stronger narrative around the public interest and business cases for audit reform.
3. Addressing broader dimensions to audit reform that may require multi-jurisdictional action.

For more context on the need for audit reform, please see Luminate’s 'Call for Action on Audit Reform' blog post.
Did COVID-19 find digital governments prepared?
June 26
Barbara Ubaldi, OECD
How prepared were digital governments to enable an agile and effective response to COVID-19? The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging governments to take the most adequate decisions rather than blindly accelerate their digital transformation. In this blog post, Barbara Ubaldi Digital Government and Open Data Lead at the OECD reflects on key questions on digital government maturity.
 Fiscal Transparency in Times of Emergency Response: Reflections for Covid-19. Now in Georgian!
May 27
Europe Foundation

Thanks to the avid work of the Europe Foundation of Georgia, the publication of Fiscal Transparency in Times of Emergency Response: Reflections for Covid-19 is now available in Georgian!

Additionally, Lorena Rivero from the GIFT Coordination Team participated in an interview with Viktor Baramia from the Europe Foundation in support of fiscal transparency in the emergency response of Georgia. Watch it in English with Georgian subtitles.

 Police reforms require budget reforms
June 23
Vivek Ramkumar, International Budget Partnership
While much attention has been focused on specific demands for police reform, justice is like all government functions: It has a significant fiscal dimension. In this blog post, Vivek Ramkumar touches upon an important subject for present priorities, police budget. Through the use of budget data, he analyzes trends related to over and underspending in the matter.
 Promoting Fiscal Transparency and Accountability Worldwide
June 15
Mark Simeone, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, United States Department of State

The U.S. Government launched the Fiscal Transparency Innovation Fund (FTIF) in 2012 to support global efforts to improve fiscal transparency and encourage citizen participation in budget processes. Through FTIF, the Department of State and USAID provide grants, in cooperation with U.S. embassies overseas, to develop and manage projects globally. These range from programs to train civil society and the media on budget transparency to projects that provide technical assistance to governments to strengthen budgeting and auditing processes. Through this fund GIFT has been able to develop some of its now flagship programs, particularly the Fiscal Openness Accelerator Project.

Read the complete article from the U.S. Department of State

 Job opportunity at the International Budget Partnership

IBP is on the hunt for an outstanding new communications director. They are looking for someone who shares IBP’s mission, is a brilliant communications strategist and has international experience.
Apply here.

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A multi-stakeholder action network to advance fiscal transparency, participation and accountability worldwide.

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