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Dealing with the emergence of the Covid- 19 pandemic requires an exceptional effort from society and government, which certainly includes public finances. We have already witnessed endeavors of historic dimensions that governments have put together to address the public health and economic crises caused by the disease, including reallocation of budget resources to the health sector and launching ambitious stimulus plans as countercyclical measures. Such drastic financial measures pose significant transparency challenges. Gathering and publishing -quality and timely- information is essential to mitigate the risks that can complicate internal and external monitoring and can be a culprit for mismanagement, corruption, and unforeseen fiscal risks. Transparency measures should contemplate the users’ needs of information, both internal, who will seek to use the data for decision-making, and external, who require the data to provide feedback, monitor implementation and foster accountability.

With the objective of continuing and deepening reflection and facilitate further guidance for implementation, the GIFT Network hosted a series of online events where stewards and partners were able to share their perspectives and lessons learned about fiscal openness (transparency and engagement) in times of emergency and participated in the co-creation of the Fiscal Data for Emergency Response: Guide for COVID-19 that is presented below.

Fiscal Data for Emergency Response: Guide for COVID-19

Fiscal data requirements in emergency response packages: Unpacking guides for Covid-19
OPEN CALL FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION
May 20, 2020

In an effort to help responding to the urgent need for transparency and accountability in COVID-19 extraordinary fiscal packages, GIFT stewards and partners have been working collectively in the development of the Guide that we present today for public consultation. The objective is to identify the fiscal datasets and data fields that are required to ensure transparency in the COVID-19 fiscal responses and economic recovery. Drawing on joint experiences, the Guide seeks to assist in informing the strategic prioritization of data and the accompanying development of processes to gather, organize and publish data.

Achieving impactful fiscal transparency in the COVID-19 context requires the proactive publication of the information underlying the strategic emergency adjustments in ways that enable its internal and external reuse. It is crucial to allow the public to understand what is being done in a sufficiently detailed manner, together with the mechanisms adopted, the aims of the strategies adopted, and how the success of the strategies can be measured and thereby assessed and adapted. Therefore, the goal of the Guide is to ensure that emergency responses, economic recovery packages and financial rescue plans include, from the outset, transparency requirements and that the datasets of such measures set in place are open by design. With this in mind, GIFT seeks to help governments clearly identify the datasets and data fields that should be integrated and disclosed to ensure that transparency is embedded in their policy responses. For civil society and advocacy groups, the objective is to simplify the process of prioritizing the data required to enable tracking, analysis and informed participation. Although each case will adapt the Guide to its context and needs, a broader aim is to generate a standardized list of the minimum data requirements required to ensure fiscal transparency and facilitate engagements between governments and the public.

The Guide we present today is Version 1.0 and is meant to be an iterative product that will be improved and strengthened by your comments, and through its use and implementation. This version has been practically developed through virtual discussions between representatives of ministries of finance, civil society organizations and specialized agencies. It is now ready to be used in your country, and it is also open to public consultation and accessible for comments and suggestions until June 30th 2020. As such, inputs are timely, useful and welcome and can be addressed to info@fiscaltransparency.net

The COVID-19 emergency, with its potentially catastrophic impact on the health of populations and economies, requires commitment, cooperation and collaboration from all. There are incredible opportunities we must definitely seize, such as digital tools that can be used to bring the governed closer to their authorities. Any scenario that includes a promising outcome after the emergency, requires transparency in the use of public resources, and informed participation. With your engagement, GIFT’s mission is to continue working towards these goals.

Juan Pablo Guerrero
Network Director

Resources from the process

Webinar 1. Reflections and recommendations for fiscal openness in times of emergency: Budget management adjustments for Covid-19

Date: April 7, 2020

Experts reflected on measures to make the most of the available resources,including necessary management adjustments and how open government methods can support better-decision-making during the emergency and post-emergency response. Within this context, the panelists analyzed the possibilities of existent classifications, internal financial management information systems, procurement systems, public reports and open data availability in different regards, as well as proposed options to track resources management and engage the community through online and offline channels.

Partners related resources

– Lorena Rivero del Paso presentation / Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency
– Sailendra Pattanayak presentation / International Monetary Fund
– Lindsey Marchessault OCP resources / Open Contracting Partnership
– Jason Lakin presentation / International Budget Partnership
– Blair Glencorse Twitter thread / Accountability Lab

Online workshops. Co-creation of guidance for fiscal open data in emergency responses: Initial application for Covid-19

While the aforementioned blogpost on Fiscal Transparency in Times of Emergency Response: Reflections for times of Covid-19, presents some initial questions to guide the identification of relevant data, during this session, participants collaborated in identifying specific datasets that are important to make available to track: 1) emergency spending to prevent, detect, control, treat, and contain the virus, 2) stimulus packages for countercyclical actions to reactivate the economy and support affected people and sectors, and 3) financing needs to ensure the financial requirements of the government during the emergency and for the stimulus measures.

After the identification of datasets, participants together related detailed data fields necessary for select priority datasets.

The results of this co-creation workshop supported the development of guidance for fiscal transparency measures in emergency responses.

Workshop in Spanish

Date: April 9, 2020
25 Covid-19 data sets mapped

Participants: ACIJ Argentina, CIEP Mexico, Citizen Observatory of Fiscal Transparency Costa Rica, Fiscal Observatory Foundation Chile, International Budget Partnership, Inesc Brasil, Innovaap Costa Rica, Ministry of Finance from Argentina, Ministry of Finance from Costa Rica, Ministry of Finance from Mexico, Open Contracting Partnership, Open Data Charter, Planning and Budget Office from the Presidency of Uruguay, Ubicuo Mexico.

Workshop in English

Date: April 20, 2020

30 Covid-19 final data sets mapped from both workshops

Participants: Asia Dalit Rights Forum, CABRI, Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability, CivicDataLab, Connected Development, Department of Budget and Management of the Philippines, Europe Foundation, GIZ (Benin), Institute of Public Finance from Croatia, International Budget Partnership, Ministry of Finance of Georgia, Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning of Nigeria, Ministry of Finance of Mongolia, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, National Treasury of South Africa, Open Government Partnership, PEFA Secretariat, Public Service Accountability Monitor, Imali Yethu, Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII).