Supporting the Evolution of Fiscal Transparency – Global Integrity at the GIFT Stewards Meeting in Mexico

Jorge Florez
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*This image is from Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT)

Jorge Florez – Manager, Research – March 23, 2017

The Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) is multistakeholder action network that supports progress towards greater fiscal transparency, participation, and accountability in countries around the world. Global Integrity is proud to be a general steward of GIFT. We value the opportunities the network provides for champions of open fiscal governance to work and learn together as they try ensure that public resources are used to deliver better development results.

Last week we were fortunate enough to participate in a meeting of GIFT’s General Stewards in Mexico City. We covered various topics at the meeting (see the material and presentations used during the meeting here), including:

  • GIFT’s recent evaluation and the network’s emerging strategy for 2018 to 2021;
  • Updates to the Principles of Public Participation in Fiscal Policy, and the guide for sharing experiences of countries putting those principles in practice. The principles and the guide are tools intended to promote greater fiscal transparency and participation at the country level, and in the work GIFT has led to harmonize global fiscal governance standards;
  • The recent and ongoing work of Stewards themselves.

We spent a good deal of time engaged in lively conversation about how the GIFT network can get closer to issues that matter to citizens, and connect fiscal transparency and participation to improved service delivery, the fight against corruption, and the use of open data.

It was great to learn more about the eight new stewards joining the network, including representatives from the governments of Uruguay, Guatemala, and Croatia; non-governmental organizations like Public Service Accountability Monitor, Open Contracting Partnership, Social Watch and The MITRE Corporation; and The Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative, an intergovernmental organization. We enjoyed hearing from other members of GIFT about their recent successes, and the challenges they’re facing as they pursue accountable fiscal governance.

Several countries have made good progress in implementing the Open Fiscal Data Package (an open data standard for the publication of fiscal data), and the Mexican Ministry of Finance and the Open Contracting partnership are currently working on connecting this package to the Open Contracting Data Standard. We also heard from several members about their growing interest in supporting the use of open data repositories, which are increasingly available in countries across the world. Governments like Paraguay, for example, are working to engage users in developing tools for citizen oversight of education and other issues. Stewards interested in the connections between fiscal data use, apps, and visualizations even decided to create a working group, led by Paraguay, to facilitate the sharing of their experiences and  lessons, as they work to help citizens use fiscal data.

These developments, combined with GIFT’s recently revamped strategy and work plan, suggest two key ways in which the network intends to evolve – both of which resonate strongly with Global Integrity’s own thinking on fiscal governance reform. First, GIFT intends to further explore barriers to the effective use of fiscal data in particular sectors; and second, by strengthening the support available for members as they take iterative, adaptive, and politically savvy approaches to improving fiscal transparency at country level, GIFT plans to generate evidence to inform learning and adaptation across the network.

We have been working with the GIFT coordination team to explore the ways in which Global Integrity can support the work of in-country reformers, and strengthen learning across the network. We’ve come up with two key ideas, which we’re continuing to develop in collaboration with GIFT:

  1. Participatory assessments of the fiscal governance landscape, which were developed with our Mexican partners. These assessments would bring together governments, citizens, and CSOs to: explore the usefulness of public fiscal data; identify technical and political barriers to data use; and co-create strategies for addressing those barriers. They are intended to enable data users and producers to examine whether and how — given the technical and political constraints and opportunities in a particular context — available fiscal data can be used to address issues that affect people’s lives;  
  2. Adaptive implementation support, modeled on our ongoing work with Making All Voices Count. This method can be used to support the work of key in-country reformers as they design, implement, monitor, reflect on, and adapt strategies for enhancing fiscal transparency and accountability in ways that make sense in their contexts. In addition, we’ll provide reformers with opportunities for structured peer exchanges to share experiences, explore challenges and lessons, and generate insights to help connect fiscal transparency and participation more strongly to the public interest at country level..

These modes of support can be implemented separately or combined – with participatory assessments as the first stage of adaptive implementation support.  

We received good feedback on these ideas from other GIFT stewards in Mexico. Several government representatives were keen to discuss further how GIFT and Global integrity could help them strengthen public participation mechanisms, including through figuring out how to support the release and use of sensitive fiscal data.

In the coming weeks we will keep working with GIFT’s coordination team to further develop these ideas for collaboration. If these ideas resonate with you and your work, or if you want to talk further about it, please leave a comment on this post or send us your thoughts to jorge.florez@globalintegrity.org.

 

Jorge Florez
Jorge Florez
Manager, Fiscal Governance

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