GIFT is expanding!
Welcome to our 8 new members
8 entities –3 government institutions and 5 civil society organizations– became Stewards of the network, taking their full commitment to intensify efforts to enhance fiscal transparency, participation and accountability in fiscal policies. In so doing, they also expressed disposition to promote discussions on participatory and accountable management of fiscal policies and the willingness to promote cooperation and information sharing.

We welcome our new GIFT Stewards! Now we are 37.

Office of Planning and Budget, Presidency, Uruguay
GIFT and the Uruguay’s Office of Planning and Budget (OPP in Spanish – with a ministerial level) have developed an intense collaboration throughout 2015-6. Representatives of this Office have participated in meetings, the OGP Paris Summit and fiscal transparency workshops last year, in the framework of the OGP’s Fiscal Openness Working Group (FOWG). Thus, the team in charge of Uruguay’s fiscal transparency portal has received technical assistance and peer to peer learning. Also, importantly the OPP has partnered with GIFT to pilot the Open Fiscal Data Package.

Ministry of Public Finance, Guatemala
The Ministry of Public Finance of Guatemala has participated in several of GIFT’s workshops and meetings. In the framework of the OGP’s FOWG, the MoPF benefited from GIFT’s comments to their Second National Action Plan’s fiscal transparency commitments. Additionally, GIFT has co-organized with the World Bank, the Ministry and ICEFI (GIFT Steward) meetings in Guatemala City to discuss transparency and public participation in fiscal policy. The MoPF has also partnered with GIFT to pilot the Open Fiscal Data Package.

Ministry of Finance, Croatia
Representatives from the Ministry of Finance engaged in several GIFT meetings throughout 2015 and 2016. They have been actively involved in GIFT’s activities, by being a member of the Guide on Public Participation in Fiscal Policy Principles and Mechanisms’ External Review Group. As with the case of the OPP of Uruguay and the MoPF of Guatemala, the MoF of Croatia is also piloting the Open Fiscal Data Package.

Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM), South Africa
The PSAM forms part of the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. During the last year, PSAM has been engaging in GIFT’s meetings and workshops, as an active counterpart to South Africa’s Department of National Treasury (GIFT Steward). These two institutions have shared repeatedly that the progress achieved in fiscal transparency and public participation in South Africa cannot be explained without the intense dialogue between civil society and government.

Social Watch, Benin
Social Watch is an international network of citizens’ organizations in the struggle to eradicate poverty and the causes of poverty, to end all forms of discrimination and racism, to ensure an equitable distribution of wealth and the realization of human rights. Dieudonné Houinsou, Social Watch Benin’s Executive Secretary, who is the local Open Budget Index researcher, joined several GIFT activities last year. Social Watch has acted as an important liaison for GIFT to build the incipient partnership with Benin’s Ministry of Finance. Leveraged with Social Watch’s membership to GIFT, Benin could become one of the few countries to join the FOWG (through the MoF) prior to becoming an OGP member country.

The MITRE Corporation
The MITRE Corporation is a not-for-profit company that operates multiple federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs). Since 2015, MITRE has attended as a partner several GIFT workshops. MITRE is decidedly interested in joining GIFT given the peer learning activities of the network in various areas of interest and expertise of the organization. In turn, for GIFT the strategic value of having MITRE join is in that it is a vehicle to establish and maintain high level relations with many US government agencies.

The Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI)
CABRI is an intergovernmental organization that provides a platform for peer learning and exchange for African ministries of finance and planning. It is currently chaired by the Budget Planning Director of the National Treasury of South Africa. CABRI has had an important role in Africa in institutional capacity building of ministries of finance. CABRI has been participating at several GIFT’s workshops and meetings. Their engagement with GIFT represents a strategic alliance that opens the possibility to work with ministries of finance of several African countries.

Open Contracting Partnership
The Open Contracting Partnership is a multi-stakeholder network composed by a community of policy experts, leaders and campaigners who believe that better open data and more community engagement can transform public projects, goods and services. Open Contracting has participated in several FOWG workshops and stewards’ meetings, in which they have been given the space to present and promote their initiative. Currently, GIFT is partnering with this network seeking to move transparency one step beyond by linking budget and contracting open data through a first project with the Mexican MoF. Thus, Open Contracting’s membership to GIFT would represent a technical-strategic alliance.

On January 17, GIFT’s Lead Stewards discussed the proposal in the Strategy note for the New Phase of GIFT (2018-2021), a phase that is seen as an enhancing one that follows its initial launching phase. The proposal originates from the independent evaluation and the strategic planning meeting (September 2016) in which GIFT’s value proposition and theory of change were confirmed.

In a nutshell, the comparative value of GIFT has been its work on global norms, its convener role for peer-to-peer learning, and on making sure that fiscal transparency is useful to potential users. The action network should continue to help those governments seeking to advance fiscal transparency, participation and accountability, and who are willing to benefit from access to a peer-to-peer learning forum that integrates dialogue with private sector and civil society representatives and international expertise. While conscious of the limited capacity of the network, participants expressed their belief that deepening the efforts in these areas and at the same time, developing a proper systematization for these exchanges to improve knowledge outcomes, will be crucial.

The implications for the future activities of the network are the following:

• First, GIFT will continue to be at the frontline of public participation in fiscal policies, emphasizing the right’s perspective of public participation and multiplying the number of mechanisms that illustrate practices around the world that encourage people’s engagement in the budget cycle, and intensely promote its knowledge and disseminate it among countries committed to open government and participation;

• Second, as part of the expansion of the adoption of the High-Level Principles on Fiscal Transparency, Participation and Accountability, GIFT will further assess and disseminate information and evidence on the links between fiscal transparency and areas that directly affect citizens;

• Third, GIFT will continue to engage as an internationally experienced connector/broker with countries committed to open government, facilitating knowledge sharing among the network partners and fostering the development of IT tools, particularly within the Open Government Partnership community of countries.

See the complete note here.

2017 is a transition year for GIFT that will serve to set the basis for the 2018-21 period, which will be an enhancing phase of the network. This include institutionalizing the gains achieved, deepening key strategies, monitor, learn and correct the course if necessary, and build enduring connectivity and vibrancy of the network. Part of the activities proposed for 2017 will be directly related with the new strategic plan, while others will still be linked to previous engagements, based on preceding work plans approved by the lead stewards and related to the agreements with other funders of GIFT.

The areas of work for this year are :Norms work, that implies continue working on the Guide on public participation principles and mechanisms in fiscal policy; Fiscal Transparency in areas that affect people’s lives (concept notes, anticorruption, service delivery, revenues); and complete the OECD’s Toolkit on Budget Transparency; Peer to peer learning, for which a series of events are planned in different countries; Research on evidence and innovative practice, adding 12 new mechanisms of public participation will be documented and added to the Guide; the Open Fiscal Data Package, where Mexico already published their budget data using the tool; Uruguay, Croatia, Guatemala and Paraguay are currently piloting it. Emphasis will be made in addressing the question of the use of the data, and engaging other partners in additional piloting; and Enlargement of the network and fund raising. The specific goals could therefore be to include 10 additional members in the period 2017-2018, including 5 additional governments of which at least 4 should located in Africa, Europe and Asia. While the composition of Lead Stewards should include more governments and civil society organizations to increase membership diversity, the current governing model works for now and should be maintained for the time being.

See details of the approved 2017 Workplan

New GIFT videos!

Online Budget Simulator
Jean-noé Landry

Executive Director, Open North
GIFT’s Open Fiscal Data Package
Victoria Vlad

OpenSpending Team, Open Knowledge International
Beneficios de la colaboración entre pares en portales de transparencia
Rafael Palau

Director General – Tecnologías de Información y Comunicación. Secretaría Técnica de Planificación para el Desarrollo Económico y Social. Presidencia de la República de Paraguay.

Revamping the Follow The Money Network
GIFT Encourages you to answer the Survey here!

Your input on the you’re and your organization’s work following the money will be very valuable to inform the evolution of the network. It Is 20 questions that will take you 15 minutes tops. Thanks for taking the time!

World Development Report 2017
Governance and the Law
It’s out!
• Ineffective policies can persist, while potentially effective policies are often not adopted. The 2017 WDR explores why some policies fail to achieve desired outcomes and what makes other policies work.
• The success of policies depends on governance. To be effective, policies must guarantee credible commitment, support coordination, and promote cooperation.
• Power asymmetries can undermine policy effectiveness. Unequal distributions of power can lead to exclusion, capture, and clientelism.
• Law is an important tool in the policy arena. It is not only about the rule of law but the role of law.
• Change is possible. Incentives, preferences and beliefs, and contestability are levers for change.
• Three guiding principles for rethinking governance for development are:
1) Think not only about the form of institutions, but also about their functions.
2) Think not only about capacity building, but also about power asymmetries.
3) Think not only about the rule of law, but also about the role of law.

Read the full report