February 6, 2013Doug Hadden
Doug Hadden, VP Products
I had a few interesting exchanges on twitter yesterday, the first concerning the improvement from 21% to 59% made by the Government of Afghanistan on the Open Budgets Survey . (See below for the “storiefied” version)
The International Budget Partnership provided links to news stories about this achievement.
- “Open Budget Survey Ranks Afghanistan as Second Greatest Improver,” Asia Foundation, 23 January 2013
- “Afghanistan achieved progress in Open Budget Index,” Wakht News Agency, 23 January 2013
- “Global report ranks Afghanistan as one of the fastest improving countries in enabling its citizens to understand and influence budget decisions that affect their lives,” http://pro-act.org, 26 January 2013
My sense is that many are incredulous that Afghanistan has a rating just below Italy.
The point is that Afghanistan makes 6 of the 8 documents that should be public by the OBI public. The other 2 are used internally. Public engagement was rating weak and there is room for improvement. Publishing the additional 2 document and increasing public engagement will improve the rating.
The Government of Afghanistan uses the FreeBalance Accountability Suite. This enables the government to publish budget information if there is political will to do so. The Government of Timor-Leste publishes information directly from our software in a Transparency Portal and the Government of Liberia has announced an electronic billboard project to show government expenditures. I suspect that Liberia will also be using FreeBalance back-office software to support this initiative.
The governance news from Afghanistan is usually grim, as I have said in the past. The truth is that there have been achievements in Afghanistan including a good Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) assessment in 2008, rating of achieving substantial PFM progress and evidence of how software reduced corruption in Afghanistan.
To be clear, I am not saying that our software is a magic anti-corruption/good governance pill. I’m saying that the tool, when there is political will and commitment can be used for transparency and accountability. And, the governments of Afghanistan, Honduras and Liberia should be acknowledged for their governance achievements.