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Number 1 on transparency but what else?

Number 1 on transparency but what else?

New Zealand has retained its top ranking for transparency in the recently released 2015 Open Budget Survey (OBS). The OBS assessment also points, however, to shortcomings on other essential "pillars" of public sector governance and financial accountability, for example:

• Parliamentary oversight is assessed as "limited" during for budget planning and "weak" for budget implementation, with a composite score for legislative oversight of just 45 out of 100.

• Formal mechanisms for public engagement are also assessed as "limited" across stages of the budget cycle, scoring 65 out of 100, with particular concern about lack of opportunities for public participation in processes involving Parliament and the Office of Auditor General (OAG).

• NZ scored 88 out of 100 on public availability of budget information, scoring 88 out of 100 on the Open Budget Index (OBI), but results for this component still point to a need for the Government to improve the scope and quality of both "citizens budget" documentation providing information readily accessible to the general public and of reporting on tax expenditures.

This discussion explores not only the positives and negatives of the OBS report, but also situates the results in the wider context of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and other international commitments.

For a briefing paper on OBS please contact Jonathan Dunn on smitana@ihug.co.nz

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