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NEWSLETTER #23
Five new stewards join GIFT: 
The Secretariat of the Budget of the Ministry of Finance of Argentina, the Ministry of Finance of Chile, the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Benin, the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine, and the Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia from Argentina.
     GIFT enthusiastically welcomes the Ministry of Finance of Argentina, the Ministry of Finance of Chile, the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Benin, the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine, and the Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (Civil Association for Equality and Justice) from Argentina as new stewards of the network. These are institutions whose representatives have engaged in significant interactions with GIFT over the past two years, attending workshops and meetings, sharing their experiences on fiscal transparency and public participation, and benefiting from peer learning processes. Members of the network have been acquainted with these institutions’ representatives and have engaged with them in network activities, witnessing their willingness to strengthen their commitment with GIFT.  
 
     With the admission of these five institutions,
GIFT now counts 45 stewards. In terms of sectors, there are: 18 budget authorities institutions; 14 national or regional civil society organizations; 5 expert organizations or technical networks; 4 multilateral organizations; 3 private foundations; and 1 international development institution. In terms of regional representation, Stewards are: 11 global; 18 from the Americas (16 from Latin America); 5 from Asia; 7 from Africa; and 4 from Europe.
 
     In further expanding the Network’s membership, Lead Stewards have agreed that it should not grow beyond a manageable size to keep it flexible and relying on a small coordination team. There should be attention on the key point of the entry criteria to keep a balance of the membership, not only in geographical terms, but also in the mix of different kinds of organizations (Lead Stewards Meeting, January 17, 2017).
GIFT becomes a member of the Advisory Board of the INTOSAI’s Professional Standards Committee

     GIFT gladly accepted the INTOSAI’s Professional Standards Committee (PSC) invitation to join their external advisory board. The International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) is an umbrella organization for the external public sector community. It provides an institutionalized framework for SAIs to promote development and exchange of knowledge and professional experience and improve government auditing worldwide and enhance professional capacities, standing and influence of member SAIs in their respective countries.
 
     INTOSAI sets standards for public sector auditing through the Framework of Professional Pronouncements. Through its PSC, INTOSAI currently consults with the World Bank, the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), and the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), and is seeking to include the perspectives of a broader range of stakeholders in its standard setting work by establishing a separate advisory group of representatives of standard users, international audit organizations and other relevant parties. In this space,
GIFT will be providing feedback and contributing to the recognition and wide adoption of the INTOSAI pronouncements.

Reflecting on Improving Effectiveness and Accountability of Public Expenditures:
Trends in Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations, Performance Budgeting and Budget Participation at the 2018 Budget Community of Practice (BCOP) of PEMPAL plenary meeting (Vienna, March 14-16)
     PEMPAL member countries from Europe and Central Asia (ECA) to more efficiently and effectively use public resources resulting from applying good and improved PFM practices developed, promoted or shared with PEMPAL contribution. Its Budget Community of Practice (BCOP) held its annual plenary meeting in Vienna on March 14-16.
 
     The BCOP membership reviewed practices and approaches on the use of performance indicators in performance budgeting and public participation and got feedback from members on the BCOP Working Groups’ most recent work on knowledge products: a) Performance Indicators in PEMPAL Countries: Trends and Challenges (by BCOP Program and Performance Budgeting Working Group), and b) Public Participation in Fiscal Policy and the Budget Process.
GIFT Network director, Juan Pablo Guerrero, contributed with the discussion on how to establish and/or strengthen fiscal transparency and public participation mechanisms in PEMPAL countries. GIFT presented takeaways and insights on the OBS 2017 results on public participation. Based on 2017 Survey findings, GIFT indicated recommendations for PEMPAL countries on steps needed to improve their public participation mechanisms.
 
     See the plenary meeting agenda and information
here, and GIFT’s presentation here.
GIFT at the Public Expenditure Management Network in Asia Workshop in Kuala Lumpur
(March 6-8)

Murray Petrie, GIFT Lead Technical Advisor, took part in a workshop on ‘Rethinking Performance Budgeting’ held by PEMNA (Public Expenditure Management Network in Asia) in Kuala Lumpur from March 6-8. Since 2012, PEMNA has been bringing ministry of finance officials from 14 countries together in regular peer to peer learning events. Petrie’s presentation was on making budget and performance data more accessible through the use of open fiscal data and fiscal transparency portals. He outlined GIFT’s peer to peer activities, and cited leading country examples of practices from within the GIFT network. Petrie also spoke about the importance of engaging the public on their needs for public services and their views on the quality of public services. He drew on the 2017 OBS to illustrate a number of good examples from Asia of public engagement in budget preparation and implementation. His key take-aways for PEMNA officials were on the importance of:

  • Engaging users of fiscal data on their needs, to avoid publishing data and performance information that is little used e.g. publishing more disaggregated agency/facility level data, and detailed data linking budgets and procurement. 
  • Making fiscal data more accessible by establishing single fiscal data portals, with all data published in open data formats, so that parties outside government can conduct analysis and identify opportunities for more efficient and effective policies.
  • Engage service delivery recipients directly on their needs, and on their views of service quality.
#DataOnTheStreets Rally rouses the participation of hundreds in Chile, Colombia and Mexico to celebrate the International Open Data Day
     More than one thousand people participated in the #DataOnTheStreets Rally to celebrate the International Open Data Day, in Chile, Colombia and Mexico. The #RallyChile (@observafiscalcl) had 431 registered participants who visited 84 public works sites, and posted 321 photos and 86 videos. In the case of the #RallyColombia (@STransparencia), 53 projects were visited, 300 photos and 45 videos posted. In the #RallyMéxico (@tpresupuestaria), 477 participants registered, 230 projects visited, 937 photos and 100 videos were posted.
To celebrate the International Open Data Day, Mexico's Secretariat of the Treasury and Public Credit (
GIFT Lead Steward) through its Fiscal Transparency Portal, alongside Social TIC, leader non-for-profit organization in digital empowerment and open data topics, led the 3rd edition of the #DataOnTheStreets Rally, this time inviting other countries to join the initiative with the  objective of promoting the engagement of citizens with the data from their fiscal transparency portals, becoming social supervisors of public works and agents of change in the use and promotion of fiscal transparency geolocation data.
 
     The #RallyChile was organized by the Observatory of Fiscal Spending of Chile (
GIFT Steward), with the support of the Ministry of Public Works and the Chilean Chamber of Construction;  and the #RallyColombia by the Secretariat of Transparency of the Office of the President, the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, the Ministry of Information Technology and Communications, Open Knowledge Colombia and the Observatory of Visible Infrastructure of the University of the Andes.
 
     
GIFT will sponsor the first-place winners of each country to participate in the Open Government Partnership Global Summit, which will take place on Tbilisi, Georgia (July 17-19, 2018), so the OGP community gets to hear the details of this innovative and exiting exercise of citizen monitoring on public investments in these countries.
GIFT at the Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference in Phoenix, Arizona
     Juan Pablo Guerrero, GIFT Network director, joined more than 250 community leaders, government officials and staff, practitioners, researchers, funders, young leaders, and technologists to explore innovations that empower community members to make real decisions and directly participate in government at the Innovations in Participatory Democracy Conference from March 8 - 10, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Conference was organized by the Center for the Future of Arizona, the Jefferson Center, the Katal Center, the Participatory Budgeting Project, the Participatory Governance Initiative at Arizona State University, Phoenix Union High School District, and the Policy Jury Group.
COMMUNITY WALL
THANK YOU AND FAREWELL TO DR. KAY BROWN, Former Budget Office Chief Director of the National Treasury, South Africa
     Dr. Kay Brown has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of the Financial and Fiscal Commission of South Africa. The GIFT network gratefully recognizes Dr. Kay Brown’s significant contribution to fiscal transparency and public participation in South Africa and globally, and wishes her great success in her new endeavors. 

You will be missed, Kay!
Launch of the Vulekamali budget data portal newsletter in South Africa
     Vulekamali is the online budget data portal emerging from an exciting collaboration between a civil society coalition (IMALI YETHU), including the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM), and the South African National Treasury. The recently launched Open! will provide ongoing updates on this project, news about events, links to resources and opportunities for participation.

     
You can subscribe to receive each fresh edition when you visit the portal.

     Following the official launch of Vulekamali on Tuesday 20 February 2018 in Cape Town, the initiative has received some fantastic and varied feedback and requests from the public and private sector to join in developing the portal. Check out some of the recent media coverage: SABC 2 Morning Live interview with Zukiswa Kota (IMALI YETHU Coordinator) on Vulekamali launch and the partnership with the South African National Treasury; Mail and Guardian article on Press Conference; Fin24 Article on launch of vulekamali; Morning Live interview with Dr. Kay Brown (National Treasury Budget Office Chief Director) on OBS result and vulekamali project.
Uruguay celebrates the Open Data Day
     The Office of Planning and Budget of Uruguay (GIFT Steward) celebrated the Open Data Day in an event for public officials that was co-organized with the Agency of Electronic Government and of the Information and Knowledge (Agesic) with the purpose of presenting the state of the art of open data in Uruguay and analyzing current challenges and opportunities, as well as next steps.
Washington Post article: “Politicians are hiding how they spend money. That’s a political mistake”
     In this article published in the Washington Post, Paolo de Renzio and Joachim Wehner argue that open budgeting and citizens participation in budget decisions lead to better policy decisions, pointing to successful cases in Uganda and Indonesia.
NEW RESOURCES
     The Expanded Version seeks to explain the role played by the GIFT High-Level Principles in promoting greater fiscal transparency globally (2012), as well as to set out the relationship between each of the High-Level Principles and the corresponding standards, norms, assessments, and country practices to which they relate.
     Readers of the Expanded Version will quickly gain an overview of the current multiplicity of instruments in relation to each other, find effective entry points to the more detailed sources of information and guidance, and consider where standards and assessments of practice may need strengthening to better realize the aspirations in the High-Level Principles.
 
     This resource captures the major changes that have taken place over the last few years to international fiscal transparency standards and assessment tools, given that the main instruments have all been substantially revised since 2013. The completion of this document therefore comes at an opportune time, when the normative architecture seems likely to remain comparatively stable in the short to medium term.
 
     In addition to information on fiscal transparency standards and norms, the 
Expanded Version contains information on country practices – cross-country data mainly from the Open Budget Survey, references to good practice in selected countries, and links to published reports assessing country practices. Together with the sources of further information and guidance, readers can use the Expanded Version as a starting point for further investigation into the full range of issues relating to fiscal transparency, public participation or accountability.
Insights at GIFT
How can governments implement the Open Fiscal Data Package?
Vitor Baptista - Open Knowledge International
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