First International Data Rally to celebrate the #OpenDataDay

#RallyMexico + #RallyChile + #RallyColombia
To celebrate the International Open Data Day, Mexico’s Secretariat of the Treasury and Public Credit through its Fiscal Transparency Portal, alongside Social TIC, leader non-for-profit organization in digital empowerment and open data topics, are leading the 3rd edition of the #DataOnTheStreets Rally. For this edition of the Rally, through the GIFT network, other countries were invited to join this initiative that seeks to enhance citizen engagement with the data from their fiscal transparency portals. The main objective is that citizens become social supervisors of public works and agents of change in the use and promotion of fiscal transparency geolocated data.

We are very pleased to announce that Chile and Colombia joined this initiative, through the Observatory of Fiscal Spending of Chile, and the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit of the Government of Colombia respectively.
The Rally starts with a webinar about the use of the platforms and ends with an event on March 3rd, when final results will be announced, and prizes will be given. All the participants will receive training/feedback from government experts about the Rally information and about the use and promotion of open data to social purposes.

FOLLOW THE RESULTS of this innovative public participation’ exercise on Twitter and Facebook with the #DatosEnLaCalle hashtag (Data on the streets in Spanish) on March 3rd!

IBP Releases the 2017 Open Budget Survey

On January 31 in DC, the International Budget Partnership launched the 2017 Open Budget Survey at an event in the World Bank, in Washington D.C. An additional global presentation took place in London, on February 6th. After 10 years of steady progress by countries, the 2017 survey shows that the progress has stalled in average global budget transparency scores, from 45 in 2015 to 43 in 2017 for the 102 countries that were surveyed in both rounds (scores are out of a possible 100). This is in stark contrast to the average increase of roughly two points documented among comparable countries in each round of the survey between 2008 and 2015. Many governments around the world are facing challenges and making less information available about how they raise and spend public money, according to the results of the Open Budget Survey 2017. But there are signs of optimism too in this round of the OBS. The modest decline did not wipe away the global progress registered in fiscal transparency from 2008 to 2017. In that period, the average OBI score increased by 6 points, for countries with comparable results (Consider that IBP’s methodology for measuring transparency was updated in 2017. Reflecting changes in technology and practice, now budget documents are only considered to be publicly available if they are published on an official government website in a timely manner). Moreover, there is a group of countries that have noticeably improved their scores, and that have presented significant innovations in public participation.

Download the Report!

Launched in 2006, the Open Budget Survey (OBS) is the world’s only independent, comparative assessment of the three pillars of public budget accountability: transparency, oversight and public participation. The sixth round of this biennial assessment, the 2017 survey evaluated 115 countries across six continents, adding 13 new countries to the survey since the last round in 2015.

Download the Open Budget Index 2017!

The GIFT Network is proud to acknowledge the outstanding results in the OBI of many of its Stewards: South Africa ranked second place, after New Zealand, with a score of 89. This was an improvement from a score of 86 in the 2015 OBI. Also, with a score of 79, Mexico ranked 6th, and Brazil 7th with an unchanged score of 77. Mexico improved significantly from a score of 66 in 2015. Moreover, many of GIFT’s Stewards accomplished improvements in 2017: the Philippines increased its score to 67, from 64 in 2015; re; Indonesia to 64 from 59; and Croatia to 57 from 53. The greatest advances in score came from the Dominican Republic –scoring 66– and Guatemala –scoring 61–, both with a 15point increase from 2015.

New Blogpost!
The latest round of the Open Budget Survey (OBS 2017) includes a new set of measures of public participation based on an emerging international consensus about what participation in the budget process should look like. The participation questions were fundamentally redesigned based on the GIFT Public Participation Principles for the 2017 survey, so it is not possible to assess changes since the 2015 survey. Hence, the 2017 OBS offers a completely new stocktaking of the state of the art in public participation in the budget process in the world. Budget participation scores are low overall, with the global average score being 12 (out of 100). This average, however, masks considerable variation across countries and across stages of the budget cycle.

GIFT lead technical adviser Murray Petrie finds that while a small number of countries are engaging the public across the whole budget cycle and exhibit many good practices, the Open Budget Survey 2017 participation results make it clear that all countries included in the survey need to enhance the inclusiveness, openness, and depth of existing public engagement mechanisms and implement similar mechanisms in other stages of the budget cycle. The survey shows that public engagement takes place more during the budget preparation stage than during budget implementation; more when the budget is approved by the legislature than when the legislature considers the Audit Report; and in a significant number of countries the Supreme Audit Institution engages publicly on the setting of its audit program.

Also, a small number of countries are engaging the public across the whole budget cycle and exhibit many good practices (Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom). A much more diverse group of countries achieved the top score for public engagement by the executive branch on at least one of the ten questions in the survey, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Fiji, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, and Ukraine. More than 80% of the countries surveyed (94 out of 115) have some form of participatory mechanism in place.

Murray Petrie’s complete blogpost.

GIFT at the OECD International Forum on Peer-To-Peer Learning for Effective Institutions Implementing the Agenda 2030
On February 13-14, in partnership with the National School of Government International (NSGI), the Effective Institutions Platform (EIP), along with the OECD, a GIFT Steward, and the UNDP, organized this International Forum which gathered approximately 70 experts and practitioners from developing and developed countries with an interest and experience in peer learning to address the politics of reform. The Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, notably the goal on ‘peaceful, inclusive societies and effective institutions’ demand that all actors work together on how to achieve ambitious targets in innovative more ways. There is a growing recognition that development approaches need to change as the development landscape evolves. One of the indicative changes is that new forms of support to institutional reform are emerging which break with traditional models of technical assistance or donor-driven programs. Instead, countries are turning to peer partnerships for expertise on reform. A growing body of evidence and learning on peer-to-peer (P2P) partnerships points to a need for approaches focused supporting development leadership and institutions at the center of government.

GIFT Network director contributed in the Enhancing transparency, accountability and open government session, which was designed to consider the ways in which peer learning is advancing in the areas of financial transparency and budgeting by taking a deeper dive into ongoing experiences in a number of countries. Participants looked into experiences in and ideas of peer to peer learning and workings help make governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens, including within the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

GIFT at the OBS – 2017 Launch and Budget Transparency in the Middle East and North Africa Workshop in Amman, Jordan
On February 14-15, the International Monetary Fund and the International Budget Partnership convened a workshop that gathered representatives of civil society organizations and from ministries of finance of Afghanistan, Jordan, Morocco and Egypt to review the Open Budget Survey (OBS) research process and timeline and explore in-depth country-specific results of OBS 2017. Other points that were addressed included understanding how civil society uses budget information, engages in budget process and supports government in reform efforts; as well as identifying how civil society can contribute to government reforms. MoF explored the opportunities for making key budget documents more comprehensive and useful. Finally, participants worked together to define an action plan to improve budget transparency at the country level, and to identify means to promote collaboration and peer-to-peer learning between countries, as well as the technical support desired from other stakeholders.

Towards greater transparency, participation, and accountability in Africa
During two working days (February 22-23), IBP, CABRI, the Ministry of Budget of the Republic of Guinea and GIFT gathered representatives from MoF of Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia to discuss progress on budget transparency measured by the Open Budget Index. Participants reflected on the roles of the various actors in the accountability ecosystem; and identified opportunities for MoF to allow more participation in the budget process, to improve accountability. The goal was to establish the links between transparency, participation and accountability based on practical cases of regional/international experience and the benefits of transparency and participation for better budget execution and better results in the delivery of public services.

First Global Conference of the Platform for Collaboration on Tax – Taxation and the Sustainable Development Goals
The Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT) held its First Global Conference on February 14-16, 2018 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The conference focused on the key directions for tax policy and administration needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Speakers and participants included senior country policymakers, tax administrators, and representatives from academia, the private sector, civil society, donor organizations, and regional tax organizations. Five thematic areas were covered: domestic resource mobilization and the state; the role of tax in supporting sustainable economic growth, investment and trade; the social dimensions of tax (poverty, inequality, and human development); tax capacity development; and tax cooperation.

The conference built on the vibrant global dialogue on taxation, and insights and views from the conference will help inform and shape the future work of the PCT and its members. The conference aimed to provide guidance to individual countries and other stakeholders on how to better target tax efforts to achieve the
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Check out the
Platform Partners’ Statement at the Closing of the Conference

New blog: World Bank’s Jim Brumby writes about “Game-changers and whistle-blowers: taxing wealth”
How tax systems can assist in addressing excessive increases in wealth inequality was discussed at the regular IMF-World Bank session on taxation last October. Taxation and inequality was also considered at the first conference organized by the Platform for the Collaboration on Tax, held at the United Nations in New York earlier this month. In this blogpost, Jim Brumby explores six areas where progress can be made.

Open Budgets India: the Union Budget Explorer
The community driven open data platform, Open Budgets India (OBI), on government budgets in India led by the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability addressed limited availability of relevant and accessible information on budgets in India at different levels has been a hindrance in this regard with creating the Union Budget dashboard titled the Budget Explorer. OBI’s aim is to facilitate ways in which Union Budget can be made more open and easy to comprehend for both the budget educated and budget curious audience.
Check it out!

Next steps and lessons learned from GIFT's workshops (Peer Learning)
Insights at GIFT
Next steps and lessons learned from GIFT’s workshops (Peer Learning)
Ministry of Finance – Republic of Croatia

New GIFT’s website section
-International Fiscal Transparency Instruments’ Mapping Included-