Overview of the Cases
The nine initial cases in the Guide are a very small sample of all the different types of mechanisms of public participation in fiscal policy – which as defined by GIFT spans the complete fiscal policy and budget cycles as follows:
Table 1 maps the nine cases by stage in the policy and budget cycles, and by lead institution.
As can be seen from Table 1, the executive branch leads most of the nine initial cases. One of these, Korea’s Advisory Committees span more than one stage of the budget cycle, illustrating the high-level strategic initiative in Korea, following the 1997 financial crisis, to improve government efficiency and strengthen democratic legitimacy after the political transition of the 1980s. The other cases of executive branch public engagement are specific to a single stage in the budget cycle, but there is large variation across these mechanisms. Two, Brazil and the Philippines, involve major nation-wide efforts to directly engage citizens in expressing views on priorities for the next budget – Brazil at all levels of government, the Philippines at the local level with respect to spending by national ministries. As noted in GIFT’s synthesis of the cases, these mechanisms were introduced following transitions from authoritarian rule, and it is difficult to identify similar mechanisms in any of the older democracies. The Mexican school infrastructure initiative is a recent mechanism that empowers local communities and parents during budget implementation, both in terms of deciding on how school infrastructure funds will be spent, and monitoring implementation of the projects.
Within the executive branch, the central finance ministry plays the lead role in three of the mechanisms – the Philippines’ Bottom-Up-Budgeting, Korea’s Advisory Committees, and Mexico’s rural school infrastructure. However, line ministries also play an important role in Korea (each ministry also establishing an Advisory Committee) and in Mexico, where the education ministry and school boards also play an important role. [In Brazil it is the President’s Office that leads the overall Policy Council program, with line ministries playing an important role in the sector Councils,] while in Mexico both the education ministry and the ministry of finance play important roles in the school infrastructure program.
The two examples of public participation in legislative oversight illustrate two relatively recent trends in public financial management. The first is a two-stage budget process in which the legislature first debates overall fiscal and budget strategy before, at a later stage, considering the detailed annual budget estimates. In Canada the Finance Committee calls for public submissions at the pre-budget stage. The second important development in the last decade or so is the spread of independent fiscal policy advisory bodies, many of which are under the legislative branch. In Croatia’s case the establishment of the Commission on Fiscal Policy was associated with Croatia joining the European Union.
The example of participation in the audit stage is from the Philippines. Citizen Participatory Audit (CPA) is a value-for-money conducted by the Commission on Audit (COA), the supreme audit institution (SAI) of the Philippines, pursuant to its mandate During CPA, special audit teams with COA and citizen auditors are created to conduct performance audits of selected government programs. CPA differs from other forms of participatory audit (e.g., social audits) in that non-COA auditors are given more roles and responsibilities and are present in all steps of the audit. When citizen auditors are “deputized” as COA auditors, they receive the same level of access to information as any other member of the audit team, are bound by the same audit protocols and principles, and are expected to participate in the entire audit process. While other forms of citizen participation in audit see the formal audit process as a takeoff point for third-party citizen monitoring—as in cases where civil society groups use audit reports as source documents for budget analysis or government performance monitoring—joint audits bring citizens from non-government groups into the formal audit process, giving COA a chance to explore complementary and additional approaches to audit (e.g., community scorecards).
The final column in Table 1 incorporates a range of activities involving interactions between state and non-state actors (e.g. CSOs, activists, academics, journalists, business organizations). These interactions may represent either invited participation, or invented participation. Invited participation refers to public engagements initiated by a state actor, in which non-state actors are invited to take part. Invented participation refers to interactions between non-state and state actors that are initiated by non-state actors. The engagements may involve state actors but be led by non-state actors, or there may be no active involvement of state actors. The Kenya case study illustrates invented participation, but with different degrees of official engagement. One of the initiatives was supported officially by the provision of the detailed information required for effective monitoring, while another initiative illustrates reluctant official toleration of social monitoring that was initiated and led by non-state actors. On the other hand, Social Audit in Andhra Pradesh, India is an example of invited participation, where Ministry of Rural Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh initiated the engagement of non-government actors in the audit process. The aim of this “social audit” mechanism is to determine whether state reported expenditures in specific government programs reflect the actual monies spent on the ground and verify the associated actual development outcomes achieved.
The nine case studies vary considerably in the extent to which they illustrate the ten GIFT principles of public participation in fiscal policy:
The level of complexity of the mechanisms in these nine initial cases also varies considerably. The public consultation conducted by the Canadian Parliamentary Committee is a long-established mechanism in older democracies, and operates according to well-established rules and relatively simple procedures. Social audits, especially when confined to a single program as in Kenya, are also relatively straightforward (although they may face other challenges relating to access to information and officials). At the other end of the spectrum are the large nation-wide exercises in public engagement and deliberation in national and sector planning and in bottom-up-budgeting in Brazil and the Philippines respectively. These involve a very large number of actors, and complex coordination arrangements across levels of government and government ministries. To a lesser extent, the Mexican school infrastructure project is also complex given the requirement for new on-going institutional structures in many communities across the country – although the investment in the new structures perhaps creates the possibility of further engaging parents and local communities in other aspects of school governance and monitoring. This is also true for Andhra Pradesh, India’s social audit experience. A lot of financial and human resources (in terms of training) got invested in institutionalizing this mechanism. Finally, the formal involvement of CSOs and citizens on audit teams lead by the Supreme Audit Institution in the Philippines requires carefully designed instruments, such as Operational Guidelines for the Citizen Participatory Audit Project issued by the COA, and formal agreements between the COA and the CSOs and citizen auditors setting out respective roles and responsibilities in order to retain clear accountability of COA for the audits while providing a systematic mechanism for incorporating public inputs.
In terms of the depth of public participation, it is interesting to consider where the cases lie on the IAP2 spectrum of the depth of public participation. The IAP2 spectrum has five points: inform; consult; involve; collaborate; and empower.
Finally, GIFT’s synthesis of the initial case studies identified three broad typologies of public participation in fiscal policies here.
A broader map of the range of mechanisms of public participation in fiscal policy
As noted, the nine initial cases in the Guide are a very small sample of all the different types of public participation in fiscal policy.
Table 2 below sketches out further examples of the full range of public participation in fiscal policy design and implementation, including participation with respect to public service delivery and public investment projects.
Text in blue in the table is linked to GIFT case studies that include discussion of the mechanism. The original full case studies contained discussion of a wider range of participation mechanisms than is written up in the outlines in the Guide.
Text in black refers to mechanisms where GIFT would like to develop or receive details of examples of participation that have been documented in some way e.g. case studies, short briefs, articles, videos, interviews, or blogs on country examples. The aim is to progressively populate the Guide over time with the full range of participation mechanisms.
Text in red is where we have a link to some other institution’s write up of a participation mechanism.
 The new administration in the Philippines of President Duterte has suspended implementation of Bottom-Up-Budgeting.