Budget Monitor (BM) for Good Governance

Budget Monitor is a ICT tool of SAOG that promotes transparency,accountability,efficiency of public administration through increased citizen scrutiny. BM establishes two way communication with taxpayers:
1.provides sophisticated budgetary information by easy-to-interpret visualizations and dynamic graphs for free and
2.enables citizens to get involved in audit process by informing SAOG about deficiencies in public spending,providing recommendations and contribute to improved public service deliver.y

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

In recent years Georgia has experienced rapid progress in reforming its Public Financial management (PFM) sector and ensuring transparency of public finance in line with its European and international commitments, however, strengthening public participation in decision-making and public finance at both national and local levels remains a serious challenge. When it comes to direct public involvement in PFM oversight, the existing regulations and practice in Georgia is not yet advanced. Neither current policy frameworks provide clear guidance for improving the situation. Low public participation was revealed in Open Budget Survey 2017. Despite the fact that Georgia received 82 points out of 100 in Open Budget Index, it scored only 22 in public participation component reflecting lack of opportunities for citizens for participation. Among other things, some of the main reasons are:
Absence of aggregated budgetary information - public agencies publish basic budgetary information separately, so citizens cannot get a whole picture;
Budgetary information is not published in an user-friendly manner - citizens have difficulties to understand it;
Insufficient complaint mechanisms for taxpayers to participate in public administration.
All these reasons hinder transparency and accountability that might result in corruption and integrity breach.
Being aware of the flaws related to citizen participation and striving to improve transparency and accountability, seeking to provide opportunities to citizens to engage in the budget process, the SAOG has come up with an idea to develop an innovative ICT tool to increase taxpayers’ role and contribution in decision-making and monitoring processes of public finances. Thus, SAOG has elaborated Budget Monitor (BM) - an analytical and interactive web-platform that establishes two way communication with citizens. The distinguishing features of BM are as follow:
It empowers citizens to hold government accountable by providing comprehensive aggregated budgetary information in easily understandable manner from auditors’ perspective. BM intensively uses data visualizations, infographics and diagrams that allows regular users to drill down and examine data about state revenues,expenditures,public debt,administrative costs,public procurement,capital projects, in greater detail. Moreover, with this tool, citizens can choose, filter, sort, compare and export any information that increases taxpayers’ awareness about PFM issues and facilitates their oversight
to deliver audit findings and recommendations in one space, BM utilizes dynamic visual filters. These filters enable stakeholders to receive comprehensive information about existing shortcomings per public agency and to identify systemic problems on central and local levels
BM offers an opportunity to engage in the audit process. By sending audit requests and proposals through the citizen’s page, stakeholders (a) can express their interests in auditing particular fields and/or (b) inform SAOG about existing deficiencies and offer ways to improve public services (c) report potential corruption risks in public spending. SAOG applies predefined methodology to select and analyze suspected wrongdoing and issue relevant recommendations to responsible entities. In addition, citizens can track the status of their request. Thus, citizens can have profound impact on improving PFM through their participation in audit work.
Yet Budget Monitor has not been launched for a long time, it already achieved numerous tangible results: BM has gained more than 20,000 active users and annually SAOG conducts 10% of its audits based on citizens’ requests. The audit topics are addressing multiple social and economic problems different vulnerable groups are facing. For example:
• SAOG examined risks in public procurement in several public agencies
• SAOG identified deficiencies in Social rehabilitation and child care program
• SAOG checked how appropriate was spending of funds for victims of disaster

Considering comprehensiveness of information provided, via BM the gap between the citizens and budget spending is being bridged; this platform increases transparency, accountability, citizen participation that ultimately leads to good governance.
It is worth to mention, that BM is never in a static condition, SAOG team works to update and upgrade the platform continuously complying with citizens interests. For instance, recently BM was augmented by Sustainable Development Goals page, that represents the only national source that gives comprehensive information about SDGs to the citizens. In addition this page provides information about SDG related audits and corresponding deficiencies and recommendations.
In addition, SAOG intends to further expand the ICT tool and add more useful features for more ambitious results, like showing success stories of participation that actually resulted in better outcomes for the benefit of taxpayers.

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Year: 2017
Organisation Type: Government
Level of government: National/Federal government

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