Civil society organisations (CSOs) developed a new benchmarking exercise
to assess and compare levels of budget transparency across countries in
order to address a specific transparency problem: budget information may
be available, but it is not useful. Since 2001, CSOs and academic
institutions have implemented the Latin American Budget Transparency
Index (Índice Latinomericano de Transparencia Presupuestaria - LABTI) to
measure not only the accessibility of budget information, but also its
usefulness. As a perceptions-based exercise, LABTI innovates by
surveying not only budget specialists, but also the variety of
stakeholders that use budget information. An exercise like this one
allows governments to assess if the information they are publishing is
useful, while also promoting citizen participation and creating a
budgetary culture, and giving a variety of actors a tool to push for
transparency reforms. This Brief describes the distinctive features of
this index, concrete changes LABTI has achieved and the key factors
underpinning the tool’s successful use, all in an effort to offer useful
lessons learned for other contexts.
Key Lessons Learned
Carrying out a perception-based exercise gives stakeholders an
assessment of the state of budget transparency in terms of the
usefulness and quality of budget information. Additionally, improving
the quality of information strengthens the checks and balances system.
LABTI is helping to create bridges between governments, parliamentarians
and citizens by providing concrete recommendations to improve the way
budget information is published.
FUNDAR. Citizen Assessment of Budget Transparency: The Latin American Budget Transparency Index. (2011) 5 pp.