The public finance module has been co-developed with the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency to improve comparative understanding of the development of open data approaches to providing granular public finance information, and to contribute to overall Global Data Barometer assessments of data for the public good.
Building on the assessment of policy provisions and document availability carried out in the Open Budget Survey, this module looks specifically for evidence that:
- Frameworks and platforms exist for publication of detailed, disaggregated, and machine-readable data on key aspects of government finance;
- Data is published in a granular, machine-readable, and timely form.
Additionally, thematic modules on company information, political integrity, and public procurement contain links to the public finance module, looking at questions of interoperability between budgeting, spending, and procurement, and the inclusion of public infrastructure specific projects and unique counterparty identifiers in published data.
Public Finance Data and the Public Good¶
Public finance is a central tool for delivering the public good—through government taxation and spending, policies on income distribution, and interventions that influence the shape of the national economy. Transparency has long been an important principle of public financial management, growing in prominence over recent decades. Increasingly, emphasis is placed on providing not just fiscal documents, but also disaggregated data.
Public finance data is a key component of transparency and accountability efforts, to improve domestic and international coordination of fiscal policy, to support public finance research, and to increase citizen engagement in public financial management. Specifically, data can be used to support gender budget analysis, green budget analysis, and evaluation of the impact of fiscal policy on minorities and marginalized groups. Perhaps the most impactful use of public finance data is the improvement of public financial management and budget allocation
Additionally, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, detailed fiscal transparency data can support effective and accountable use of economic stimulus funds, highlight the tradeoffs of emergency re-allocations, and support public trust in government.
Transparency in public finance supports delivery of SDG 16 on effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions; further, indicators for Goal 1 on Zero Poverty require detailed information on allocation of government finance.
Use Cases Shaping This Module¶
Amongst others, the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) will make use of the data gathered to report on the extent to which countries are adopting good practices of data publication as part of fiscal transparency efforts. GIFT will share results within their network of stewards, made up of finance ministries, foundations, and civil society organizations, such as the International Budget Partnership. It is noteworthy to mention that the data will be complementary, not supplementary, to that compiled by the IBP’s Open Budget Survey, which focuses on budgetary document’s fulfillment of international best practices, rather than on information being published in open data formats.
The evidence gathered may also be useful to projects including OpenSpending, the BOOST Initiative of the World Bank, and other groups aggregating public finance data around the world, and to campaigning groups such as Tax Justice Network and the Open Data for Tax Justice community.