||PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING TOOLS - INFORMATION
WBI/MDP PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING TRAINING COURSE
COMMUNICATION, AWARENESS AND ACCESS TO INFORMATION BEST MECHANISMS, TOOLS AND MODALITIES TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO INFORMATION
PREPARED FOR: WBI/MDP PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING TRAINING COURSE MODULE 8:
BY: JOHN M. LUBUVA, DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA 28TH FEBRUARY, 2006
In discharging their responsibilities, governments make many decisions. Some of the decisions they regularly make are on policy, budgets or operational matters. Often governments do not involve any other parties in making such decisions, even though some consultations are done in certain situation such as when new laws are being formulated. In pursuit of good governance, however, governments are required to involve citizens and other stakeholders in making decisions that affect them. The process by which government includes other stakeholders in decision-making is called public participation, which can extend beyond decision-making to include “participation in the implementation and execution of projects, plans or programs for delivery of public service or for economic development” (Lubuva, J. M 2003: 1). Being one of the international organizations that promote good governance, the World Bank explains that “information sharing and dialogue” are very important to the success of participatory programs (World Bank 1996: 252).
This module defines and discusses the concepts and essence of information for Participatory Budgeting (PB) and examines the legal and regulatory framework for access to information. The module also explores the political and governmental context as well as the socio-cultural aspects of PB information. The economic conditions and how these might affect or shape the PB process is examined in this module as are the methods and tools for participatory data collection and analysis. Issues of information dissemination, advocacy and learning in PB; and those relating to information disclosure policies, barriers, access, quality and timeliness are discussed. Best mechanisms, tools and modalities for information transfer are also incorporated alongside with questions and tool kits that can be used to assist the facilitators in training or for the managers to apply at work. The potential role of ICT in managing information for PB and its practical limitations are examined at length, from the perspective of African local Government Authorities LGAs.
Concepts and definition of information required for participation and PB:
PB involves the exchange of information about community aspirations, needs and priorities on the one hand, and information on the resources that are available and which can be deployed to cater for those needs. For purposes of this module information is defined as something that is told verbally, or conveyed in print, digital form or by other means. There are two types of information consisting of “items of knowledge” or “news.” Information is a product that changes hands and can be shared across. The act or process by which information is transmitted from one person or group of persons to another is called communication. Communication is therefore a process by which information is exchanged between parties or shared among them. Communication is the act of telling or making know. Communication enables facilitates dialogue between government and stakeholders to facilitate the PB process. It enables the exchange of information to take place through various media: oral, written, pictorial or electronic form. The means by which communication is transmitted will be explained in later Sections of this module.
All parties that engage in the PB process, including government, communities, individual citizens and many other stakeholders need various types of information from the other parties. Stakeholders need from government to “have access to the best possible information on technical options, costs, benefits, and opportunities” (World Bank, 1996). They also need information on:
• The regulatory framework consisting of policy, laws, rules and regulations that govern the preparation, approval and execution of the budget;
• The municipal government plan, budget and finance
• The municipal organization structures and service delivery programs
• Budgeting techniques, accounting and auditing techniques
• Budget performance indicators and on monitoring and evaluation techniques and procedures in order to be able to track down expenditure during and after execution of the budget.
Government requires information in order for it to be able design appropriate methods of interacting with communities in the PB process and to make sound decisions on the budget. Examples of information that government requires in a PB process include the following:
• Size and composition of the population,
• Social and economic profile of communities
• Social structures and cultural systems that govern patterns of relations among individuals and groups in the community such as gender rules, community based organizations, special interest groups and associations.
• Social capital formations
• Needs, aspirations and priorities as articulated by communities
• Community resources that can contribute towards execution of the budget.
What is the role of information in the PB process?
Benjamin Disraeli, UK Prime Minister (1804 – 1881) once said that “As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information (URT 2002: 5).” Similarly information plays a very crucial role in the PB process, as the engine that drives participation. According to the World Bank (2004: 5) citizens participate around the public expenditure cycle in several areas: budget review and analysis of the budget, budget formulation, budget or expenditure tracking and monitoring performance of the budget. Each of these stages of the PB process involves the exchange of information as follows:
• Education for PB: Information imparts knowledge to stakeholders on public finance management, legislation, budgeting rules and regulations. This knowledge enables stakeholders to play effective roles in the PB process. Without this knowledge, PB would not be effective.
• Transparency: Information sharing creates transparency that brings about mutual trust between stakeholders, which is crucial for effective PB.
• Feedback: Information enables government to obtain feed back from citizens, for example the feedback on levels of satisfaction with the services that LGAs deliver to the public. Feedback can be obtained from user surveys by administering questionnaires, holding focused interviews, or in a more participatory manner by using community score cards.
• Monitoring and evaluation: Assessment of the execution and performance of the PB is done by collecting, collating and analyzing data and information on the budget.
• Empowerment of the poor: PB empowers people by enabling them take control of their well-being. Access to information is a key element for empowerment because informed citizens are better able to take advantage of opportunities, to access services, exercise their rights, and hold state and non-state decision-makers accountable (ITDG 2004).
• Creating a responsible citizenry: Information is a powerful tool for building an active citizenship. Through “government giving information … citizens acquire better, more correct and up-to-date knowledge. They are better equipped to understand and to monitor government activity. This creates the basis for more active citizenship” (OECD 2001: 19).
• Strengthening relations between government and citizens: Information enables dialogue, which is necessary for strengthening the relations between government and citizens that is crucial for PB.
• Accountability: Citizens need and make use of “critical information about budgets, expenditures, corruption, performance, etc (Ackerman 2005: 6)” to hold governments accountable by tracing public money, tracking budgets and “making sure their governments spend effectively and keep their promises”. Accountability has therefore been defined “as a pro-active process by which public officials inform about and justify their plans of action, their behavior and results and are sanctioned accordingly” (Ackerman 2005: 6).
Case Study 1: PB Information and Accountability in Tanzania:
Disclosure of intergovernmental transfers in Tanzania has created trust of citizens on government and enhances accountability of LGAs to the citizens because they can no longer explain away failure to provide services to a lack of financial resources. Disclosure of transfers made to lower level entities such as to school committees are disaggregated to specific activities, such as construction or renovation of a specified number of classrooms or school toilets, or to purchase a specified number and type of text books. Such information enables citizens to monitor expenditure and to lodge complaints on obvious abuse of public funds. More significantly, disclosure of transfers brought to light the wide disparities in allocation to LGAs, which enabled the Association of the Local Authorities of Tanzania to advise, and the parliament to direct the government to adopt a fair, formula based allocation system. The announcements have helped to check theft of public funds that previously occurred when corrupt officials diverted some of the transfers for personal gain. (Lubuva, J. M. 2004: 9).
Legal and regulatory framework for access to information:
Effective participation in budgetary decision-making requires timely access to adequate, quality, and properly structured information by all stakeholders. For this reason it is important to have a regulatory framework consisting of legal and policy instruments governing access to information by citizens. Legislation that gives citizens access to information must clearly define what information is accessible and what information is exempt from citizens’ access in certain areas such as national security, private company data, individual privacy and legal proceedings (OECD 2001: 28). Other matters that can be subject to legislative regulations include:
1. The manner of accessing information, for example whether or not it is mandatory for citizens to disclose their identities before they can access all or certain types of public information.
2. The obligation of authorities to give a written explanation of the reasons for rejecting a request for access to information.
3. Procedures for appeal against refusals for access to information.
4. The official languages in which citizens can receive the information in a multi-lingual society.
5. A time limit for delivery of information by government (OECD 2001: 28).
Some countries and certain LGAs have formulated an ordinance to guarantee free access to public municipal information. A legal instrument to guarantee free access by all citizens to public municipal documents promotes transparency, urging citizen participation in supervision of the government's administration and stimulating actions to prevent corruption and administrative irregularities. The principal challenge lies in educating society about how such an “ordinance should be used to bring to fruition the rights it embodies, on the one part”, and on “implementing practical and efficient mechanisms so that it really functions and is a part of everyday life” (OECD 2001: 28). An example of The Municipal Ordinance of the city of Asuncion that was enacted in October 1996 is shown as Case Study 2.
Policies on access to information consist of a set of internal rules that give substance to legal rights to information. They ensure that citizens receive the information they seek in the best manner possible (OECD 2001: 30). Policies clarify the law by explaining what to do and how to do it so as to ensure access to information by the public. They may set a timeframe shorter than that provided in the law in responding to press enquiries and define whether information can be given free, or at cost in all cases or under certain circumstances. When the information is used for a public purpose however, it should be provided without charge and in respect to PB, it is important to ensure that any cost does not hinder citizens’ access to public information (See Case Study 2).
Case Study 2: “ORDINANCE ESTABLISHING ACCESS TO PUBLIC MUNICIPAL DOCUMENTS OF THE CITY OF ASUNCIÓN”
Municipal Ordinance JM/Nº 22/96
HAVING EXAMINED: Article 28 of the National Constitution of 1992, which establishes that “public sources are free to be consulted by everyone”, and,
CONSIDERING: That, it is necessary to give impetus to the effective access by citizens to public information existing in the Municipality of Asunción, making available to the public the archives, records and any other document relating to the public administration of the authorities, civil servants and municipal repatriations, in order to enable citizens to participate in supervising the administration and in the decision-making process within the previously mentioned Constitutional framework
That, it is a part of the policy of the Asunción Municipality that all public documents are subject to inspection by any individual so requesting;
That, to exercise the Constitutional right established in Article 28 of our Constitution the approval of a municipal regulation is imperative to provide effective access to public municipal documents (Asunción Municipality 1996: 77).
Policy instruments also regulate how to deal with informal requests for information and define what kind of internal documents can be given out to citizens without referring to formal procedures. Issues of internal capacity to manage information in a manner that ensures quality, protection and security of information as well as how to disseminate information, including the choice of methods of dissemination. Issues like regular publication of printed materials in official journals and annual reports, brochures, leaflets as well as via radio, television broadcasts are also matters that should be regulated by policy.
In Tanzania Article 18 (2) of the constitution of the United Republic guarantees the right of all citizens to access information of importance to their lives and activities and to society (Lubuva, J. M. 2004: . In Kenya also relevant information must be disseminated to citizens as part of the requirements for the disbursement of LATF funds to the LGAs (Wamwangi, K. 2004: 14). In Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe central transfers to LGAs are published in the local newspapers to ensure transparency and accountability (Mumvuma, T. 2004: 11). Several municipalities hold Council meetings that are open to the general public to meet the requirements of law or policy directives of governments, which brings benefits in increased trust of citizens for their government” (WBI 2002: 19). The right to attend council meetings guarantees public access to information in respect of all matters of the LGAs, enabling them to monitor and evaluate performance and budget implementation. In practice, however, as few citizens attend these meetings in Tanzania for example, but the press is well represented, especially in the cities (Lubuva, J. M. 2004: 9).
Political and governmental context of information for PB:
Proximity of citizens to government is a crucial factor determining the degree of public participation. Central government institutions as well as elected and appointed officials of central government organs are generally inaccessible and detached from the vast majority of ordinary members of the public. Because they operate within LGAs occupy a central position that makes them pivotal for creating awareness, mobilizing and coordinating activities of stakeholders in the PB process (Lubuva, J. M. 2003: 9). Decentralized forms of government are therefore better suited to public participation than the centralized systems of government. Where powers for decision-making are also devolved to lower tiers of government, public participation becomes even more effective.
Decentralization may alone, not be enough to support effective PB if the authority to allocate resources is retained at the center as happened during the 1972 ‘Decentralization Program’ in Tanzania (Lubuva, J. M. 2005: 10). It is necessary for sub-national entities, the level at which PB takes place, to have sufficient decision-making autonomy in allocating local resources. The resources also must be adequate to allow for the LGAs to meet expectations of the citizens who participate in the budgeting process. In countries where LGAs depend heavily on central government transfers for their revenue, then much of the intergovernmental transfers must be unconditional and not earmarked by the central government.
By the same token the balance between own source revenue and transfers from the center is a critical factor for the success of PB. LGAs that have robust own source revenues have more discretion on their budgets and are in a better position to implement PB than those that depend on transfers from the central government, especially when the transfers are earmarked. Effective Participation is about giving voice to the citizens. Therefore participation requires the presence of democratic institutions in order for it to take place. Dictatorships, monarchs, military juntas and other forms of centralized government systems cannot support effective public participation.
Socio-cultural aspects of PB information:
Society is not homogeneous. It is therefore important to recognize that PB takes place within a diverse social, economic and cultural environment. The design of the PB process and the collection and dissemination of information for PB must recognize this diversity. When data is collected for PB, it must be disaggregated by gender, age groups, social and economic status of different sections of communities. It is important for example to understand that the division of the burden of poverty is not the same among women and men. Often, women are disproportionately affected by poverty, and impacts of poverty differ according to social groups of women and men. Therefore the poverty analysis should identify what is and what is not being done to assist women in being included in society, and what options exist to improve their participation in the development process and the economy. (ADB 1999:4).
Gender is an important consideration in the management of information for PB for many other reasons. In some societies for example, Women do not express themselves in public gatherings involving both male and female participants and any information or opinions gathered from such forums may have a significant gender bias. Under such circumstances deliberate effort should be made to ensure that women are given an opportunity to freely express themselves in the absence of males. In most societies women are generally less educated than men. The traditional role assignment in most African societies confines women to home making and taking care of children while men are glorified as bread-winners. These factors combine to robe women of their confidence as equal partners to men in PB. Children, the elderly and the disabled are often ignored in the information gathering processes unless deliberate measures are taken to collect and include their views.
Social and economic stratification of society including ethnic or tribal discrimination affects both the type of information that is gathered for PB and access to information. It is quite possible for information gathering and information dissemination to have a strong bias in favor of those who are economically or socially more powerful among society, if no safeguards are put in place to ensure that marginalized groups are not excluded. In urban areas for example traditional methods of information collection often fail to count those who operate in the informal economy and thus they are frequently overlooked in a stakeholder consultation processes (World Bank, 2001). In multi-lingual societies, there is always the danger of excluding some members of community from expressing themselves or from accessing crucial information for PB if they do not understand the official language(s) in which the information is delivered.
Other social factors such as the level of education of society, the age of target groups and the presence or absence of strong social networks must be considered in deciding on the manner and means of disseminating PB information. Cartoons for example may be very effective in presenting PB information to children, while folk media including songs and drama can be used to effectively disseminate information to the illiterate.
Relating information for PB to economic conditions:
International experience has shown that the ability to communicate can facilitate the development process by increasing efficiency, effectiveness and equity and that science and technology can enhance productivity (Mendes, Tuijnman, and Young, 2003). Economic conditions often determine the ability of governments to collect, analyze and disseminate information for PB. Governments and especially LGAs in developing countries have very little resources available for implementing information gathering, analysis and dissemination programs as compared to those in the developed countries. Poor economic conditions impede access to new information and communication technologies that increase efficiency in the analysis, storage and retrieval of information and which enable speedy dissemination and sharing of information for PB. Additionally, access to communication infrastructure in the poor African countries is severely curtailed by low economic development.
Due to severe economic limitations, budgets that area normally set aside for documents management are too small, making it difficult for LGAs to buy equipment and software as well as affording other expenses such as for training staff in the use of the new systems. Inadequate financial resources of most LGAs as viewed against the high costs of implementing automated system are a major hindrance to ICT development in LGAs. Economic conditions differ between various parts of countries especially between the urban areas which are generally better off, than the rural areas. These differences translate into inequalities in access to information communication infrastructure, which affects the choice of methods for dissemination of information for PB. In the cities electronic media including TV and radio as well as newspapers can be used effectively, which is not the case for rural areas, except for use of he radio. At the personal and household level absolute poverty may exclude some from participation generating information and from accessing information for PB because they cannot afford the time to participate or due to apathy born of frustration. Deliberate effort should be made to include the poor of the poorest in information including linking information gathering or dissemination programs with income generation for such groups.
Participatory data collection methods and tools:
There are many methods of collecting information and the degree of stakeholder participation in the process varies considerably with each method. Governments generate information daily through its normal operations and administrative decision. Such information which is stored in files as government reports and correspondences can be retrieved and for use in the PB process but often poor indexing makes it difficult to access the information. This method of collecting information is least participatory of all methods. Another method that is often used to collect information is the questionnaire survey on a pre-selected, representative sample of the population. Service delivery surveys that typically combine interviews with representative samples of households, interviews with service providers and key informants have been used to good effect in assessing satisfaction of citizens with the level of services delivered by LGAs in a number of countries, including Bangladesh, Tanzania and Uganda. This methodology, though not entirely participatory creates some opportunities for citizens to express their opinions, albeit to a limited extent only.
Several tools for participatory data collection are available. The most common are Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), Focus Group Discussions, structured and semi-structured interviews and key informant interviews. Participatory data collection methods are used to obtain both qualitative and quantitative information, while creating ownership for the data collected and its analysis. PRA evolved from rapid rural appraisal, which was developed in the 1970s and 1980s in response to the perceived problems of outsiders missing or miscommunication with local people in the context of development work. The main characteristics of PRA are: 1. It is local people who collect and analyze data. Outsiders facilitate rather than controlling the process. 2. It emphasizes local knowledge and enables local people to make their own appraisal, analysis, and plans. 3. It is an approach for shared learning between local people and outsiders, 4. It uses group animation and exercises to facilitate information sharing, analysis, and action among stakeholders. 5. It enables development practitioners, government officials, and local people to work together to plan context appropriate programs” (World Bank 1996 Appendix 1). PRA has five key tenets:
1. Participation with emphasis on Local people's input
2. Teamwork in which the validity of data relies on informal interaction and brainstorming among those involved, in a well-balanced team that includes local people with perspective and knowledge of the area's conditions, traditions, and social structure and either nationals or expatriates with a complementary mix of disciplinary backgrounds and experience.
3. Flexibility by not providing blueprints for its practitioners
4. Optimization and efficient use of time and money, by gathering just enough information to make the necessary recommendations and decisions.
5. Triangulation whereby qualitative data and information is validated by at least three sources.
Several other participatory data collection and assessment methods exist, and these include:
• Public expenditure tracking a financial input-monitoring tool used in assessing the effectiveness with which inputs are delivered to different levels of government, and to service-providing institutions. The key dimensions of financial input monitoring that must be considered are the actual execution, as distinct from the formulation, of the budget in terms of what share of budget is spent by sector or activity, after the effects of revenue shortfalls and cash-limited disbursements have been taken into account; and extent to which funds reach their specific intended destinations, such as schools or clinics. The following example from Uganda demonstrates how the process works:
Case Study 3: Lessons on Publication of Budget Information from Uganda:
The Government of Uganda developed a tracking survey in order to identify bottlenecks and leaks, to breaking a culture of secrecy and to share information with the public, enabling them to challenge uses and abuses of public funds. Uganda’s experience is a good example of a cost-effective method that achieves results from using newspapers and radio to inform people of transfers of public funds, thus empowering them to monitor money flows, and demand local officials send the money to the intended schools. In this way the government was able to achieve many results including reducing losses to inefficiencies, bottlenecks and personal gain, dramatically improving results, ensuring that policy decisions and funding allocations translate to results on the ground, highlighting the use and abuse of public money and increasing government accountability and transparency (World Bank 2004: 7).
• Qualitative impact monitoring/participatory process monitoring is a rather broad category covering a wide range of technically different but substantially similar traditions and techniques that draw fully on the extensive experience of official and NGO project monitoring and impact assessment using learning-process and participatory methods;
• Geographical information systems and poverty targeting: Poverty is not homogeneous factor and therefore targeting is one of the key issues in developing poverty-reduction strategies to identify policies that are most cost-effective in reaching the poor and to determine the extent of ‘leakage’, the spread of benefits to the non-poor, which would involve some degree of geographical targeting; • Non-survey instruments: These include one-off participatory-assessment exercises that are commissioned to investigate specific issues like the reasons for current poor performance of certain of pro-poor policies. In a number of instances, such special studies have been successfully commissioned, leading to significant discoveries and changes of approach.
Participatory data analysis:
PB is an important part of community Driven Development (CDD) initiatives. In order for LGAs to assume leadership in the coordination of CDD activities, the LGAs will need to make adequate social diagnostics, which requires competences in social research and analysis that are now lacking. Social diagnosis can be done by an external researcher or evaluator without involving the people who are subject of the research. However the evaluation can be done in a participatory manner as well. For participatory data analysis to be effective, the evaluator must possess exceptional communication and facilitation skills in addition to the wide range of research skills required. “This participatory process changes the nature of the evaluator’s role from researcher to group facilitator and articulator of participants’ feelings and ideas. Because participatory data analysis ideally involves organizational learning, the evaluator needs to be able to guide people through the problem identification process to arrive at increased understanding of their organization and ways to improve their performance” (Gary Anderson, Margot Rothman, Douglas Macdonald 1996: 3).
In Tanzania the Government employs Participatory Poverty Assessments (PPAs), as a routine part of its Poverty Monitoring System, in which data analysis about the conditions faced by poor people is originated from reflections and explanations of the poor people on their everyday experiences (URT 2002). The PPA’s methodology is typical of participatory research and is founded upon:
• The belief that ordinary people are knowledgeable about, and are capable of particularly reliable and insightful analysis of their own life-circumstances
• The principle that all people – irrespective of age, gender, level of formal education, etc. – have a fundamental right to participate in informing the decisions that shape their lives
• The use of proven methods, such as Seasonal Calendars, Venn Diagrams, etc., to facilitate the meaningful involvement of people in the research process
• A commitment to sharing ownership of research results with local people and facilitating – through Community and District Workshops – the identification of practical measures that Local Authorities can take to reduce vulnerability.
The community Score Card is another powerful tool for participatory assessment of public service performance, which is important in tracking public spending in the PB process. In rural Malawi, for example “report cards achieve public accountability by facilitating the voices of communities on the quality, efficiency and adequacy of the services that are provided to them. User opinions are aggregated to create a ‘score card’ that rates the performance of the service providers” (ITDG 2004).
Information dissemination, advocacy and learning in PB:
Systems for information management and dissemination in the LGAs in Africa are generally poor and this is a handicap to effective PB. Information for PB should be disseminated in a comprehensible and attractive manner, using print, audio, visual, electronic of folk media; through annual reports or periodic thematic reports, advertisements, press releases, press conferences and press interviews; and, by using communication methods that enable feed back such as conferences or exhibitions, public hearings and suggestion boxes (Lubuva 2004). Information can be disseminated through periodic thematic reports, advertisements, press releases, conferences and interviews. Communication methods that enable feed back such as conferences or exhibitions, public hearings and suggestion boxes could also be used.
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) which are free associations of citizens, formed around specific issues of common interest facilitate dialogue with government. They provide the requisite structure for efficient and effective dissemination of public information and provide the means for governments to reach citizens who are either members of the organizations or otherwise related to them (WDM 2001). The example of the LUPA FISCAL program in Argentina demonstrates the important role that CSOs can play in information dissemination:
Case Study 4: LUPA FISCAL program, Argentina:
LUPA FISCAL program is a civil society organization that monitors and fosters budgetary information in Argentina by generating publications, tools, and training courses that “seek to strengthen the capacity of civil Society to participate in and monitor the budget process.” The program makes use of the following publications:
• Budget Briefs: on how the central government spends the money and on what economic assumptions are made. These are distributed to legislators, the media, and members of civil society.
• Budget Guides: published once Congress approves the budget, with in-depth analysis, and international comparisons.
• Public Spending Implementation Briefs: A clear summary of government spending, keeping track of the budget. • Monthly Fiscal Bulletin: current budget topics analyzed, and distributed to legislators and the media (World Bank, 2004: 14).
Most communities in Africa, however, are not structured into CSOs which makes it difficult and costly to disseminate information to a diverse public and due to low levels of literacy many citizens are unable to interpret public information especially complex financial data. These problems are compounded by lack of focal points for information dissemination within the LGAs. LGAs therefore, have a duty to assist communities organize into civil units which may include neighborhood associations; business, professional, trade, sports or cultural associations; NGO's and CBOs; to undertake internal restructuring and create focal points in their organizational structure, including the establishment of information centers and citizens-complaints or suggestions offices, which facilitate effective interface with civil society and ensure that responsibilities for managing relations with citizens are clearly assigned; and train citizens on how to interpret and make constructive use government financial and budgetary information.
LGAs need to develop sufficient capacity for internal information management in order to ensure timely dissemination of adequate, quality, and properly structured information to citizens. The information must be comprehensible and attractive for them to read in print, audio, visual or electronic form and it must be presented in a manner that can be clearly understood. Annual reports or periodic thematic reports, advertisements, press releases, press conferences and press interviews. Communication methods that enable feed back such as conferences or exhibitions, public hearings and suggestion boxes are some of the tools that can be used to disseminate information. An integrated financial administration system is a very useful instrument in financial management that permits clarity, efficiency and consistency of operations linked to budget execution, accounting, reporting and other functions, including information dissemination. Usually, these are too expensive systems for small municipalities and those with limited resources. However, there are many experiences in Latin America and in Africa that are making these systems increasingly more accessible. S
everal countries in Africa now publish information on local government finances which can be used for PB. In Tanzania, “government publishes all quarterly transfers to LGAs by posting advertisements in the mass media so that all citizens are informed of the exact amount of transfers made to their LGAs for education, health, roads, water supply, agriculture and administration. LGAs are also required post information on all transfers from government and expenditure on their office notice boards, at ward offices and other public places such as schools and health facilities where citizens can access the information easily. Audited accounts, the annual balance sheet and statement of abstract of all LGAs are also published” (Lubuva, J. M. 2004: 9).
In Uganda, a number of initiatives have been launched which aim to raise public awareness about the budgetary issues. These include dissemination of policy and planning guidelines. The Government of Uganda established the “Budget Reference Groups” with the mandate to simplify the language and demystify the budget figures, so as to make them understandable to the general public. A quarterly newsletter, “The Policy review Newsletter” is published for circulation countrywide” (Kundishora, P. 2004: 13). Uganda’s experience is a good example of a cost-effective method that achieves results from using newspapers and radio to inform people of transfers of public funds. The program is implemented through the following key steps:
1. Publishing on a monthly basis in newspapers and radio broadcasting the exact amounts transferred
2. Requiring schools to maintain public notice boards, posting funds received
3. Legislation protecting accountability and information dissemination
4. Requiring districts to deposit all grants to schools directly into school bank accounts
5. Delegating authority for procurement to schools (World Bank, 2004: 7)
In Zimbabwe, LGAs use several tools for budgetary information dissemination and citizen consultation, the most popularly used being the Government Gazette, Newspaper notices calling for objections, Public notices at the SNG office, Ministerial commissions, Ministerial investigations, Consultation with the local authority, Councilor input, Ward development committees, Right of the community to attend council meetings, Right to make copies of by-laws, budgets, resolutions and voter rolls and Council sub committees. A major weakness of all the latter information dissemination and consultation strategies is that they assume a high degree of literacy and interest in civic matters by the ordinary citizens.” (Mumvuma, T. 2004: 14). Elsewhere, the Micro Impacts of Macroeconomic and Adjustment Policies (MIMAP) program has come up with many innovative uses of publications and media to disseminate Research results that can be also used to disseminate information for PB. A selection of some of the examples is shown by country in Case Studies 5(a) – 5(c).
Case Study 5: MIMAP Best Practices in information Dissemination:
The MIMAP team in Morocco has distributed working papers to more than one hundred national and international addresses, particularly: government officials responsible for planning, social programs, poverty alleviation; national economic media; embassies and aid agencies; economic faculty libraries; etc.
5(b) The Philippines:
Dissemination of information continues to be a priority for MIMAP-Philippines through the preparation of its quarterly bulletin, research papers, and the project website. ikewise, various MIMAP research work, featured in selected issues of the MIMAP’s newsletter, have also been featured in the Philippine Star, one of the country’s leading daily newspaper.
A priority agenda of MIMAP-Bangladesh is the dissemination of the project information. For this, study series, working paper series, policy briefs, newsletters, journal articles, monographs, project website and other means of publication have been widely used (PEP 2004: 13)
The media is also a very effective tool for creating awareness. In a recent survey carried out by the UNDP on CSOs for example Participants recognized that close contact with the media was a very useful method of promoting awareness (UN 2004). The Community Score Card is another effective tool for creating awareness in service delivery. In Kasonga, Malawi for example, “the community score card initiative has helped raise awareness in the community. They are now aware that taking an active role in the assessment of local facilities, such as health care, can substantially benefit the quality of that service. They have also become increasingly aware of their rights of involvement in such initiatives” (ITDG 2004). In Malawi the community score card had several impacts:
1. Empowers citizens to monitor, participate and measure the quality of services and initiates dialogue among health service providers and users
2. Generates indicators from both communities and service users for monitoring change
3. Recognizes areas of good work and areas that need improving and rebuilds lost trust
4. Decides actions to improve people’s access to health services and devises strategies for effectively using limited health services
5. Gives a chance to the community to make informed decisions to improve their healthcare and instills a sense of responsibility and ownership of health services among users
6. Promotes accountability and transparency between providers and users, and within the levels of health service providers.
Case Study 6: Community Scorecard in Malawi:
The community scorecard methodology was first developed in Malawi by CARE International in 2002. The model applied in Malawi includes four basic elements. First, facilitators organize community meetings with villages surrounding the specific health center to be evaluated. At these meetings the participants talk about their health problems, their access and use of health services and their opinions of the health center under evaluation. The facilitator then works to help the participants design a list of indicators that can be used to evaluate the health center. Finally, the participants are asked to rank the performance of the health center along each one of the indicators
Second, the staff at the health clinic goes through a similar process. They are asked to discuss the present situation at the clinic, develop a series of indicators and rank their performance along these indicators. Third, an “interface meeting” is organized where community members and clinic staff present their respective scorecards, compare the outcomes and try to work together to design solutions to the common problems identified. Fourth, the action plans need to be implemented and followed-up.
There is evidence that there was significant improvement in the service of the health center between the two interface meetings that took place in Malawi and that most of this improvement can be attributed to the implementation of the community scorecard” (Ackerman, 2005: 33).
Public meetings, various forums where reports and proposals are presented and discussed, academic and policy seminars, fora, groups, and email discussion are among other methods to create awareness.
Information disclosure policies and barriers, access quality and timeliness:
“Generation, data processing and disclosure of information are an essential condition for a good transparent and participatory government. To the extent that useful, exact and timely information is provided, greater interest and trust may be expected from the community with reference to the management of public issues” (WBI 2002). “The citizen information system is a key service that the government must give preference to, because this determines the good relationship that may evolve with the community based on trust” (WBI 2002).
Best mechanisms, tools and modalities for information transfer:
A research organization called Poverty and Economic Policy (PEP 2004: 12) contends that the use of publications and media “constitute relatively low-cost mechanisms” to disseminate information. Publications and, to some extent, media have the added advantage of durability, ensuring that recipients can refer to them whenever needed. In particular, this may take the form of reports, articles, working papers, bulletins, newsletters, policy briefs, newspaper articles, television/radio interviews, books, pamphlets or web sites. Publications can be distributed to direct contacts or representatives in local or national governments, NGOs and donor representatives”. Liguton (1994: 2) points out that the use of mass media is particularly effective in “creating awareness and increasing knowledge”
ICT enables citizens to express demands for services, accountability, or transparency. The objective is to improve efficiency, transparency and comprehensiveness by using modern ICT “to support planning and budgeting, transaction processing, and reporting on the use o f financial resources (Cariah, Paul Cisti 2004). However, there are many impediments to ICT development in the LGAs in Africa. In many African countries, there is no external support that is available to the LGAs to develop ICT infrastructure and the level of cooperation among the key stakeholders especially business firms and other organizations is also low if existing. In Tanzania however, the government supported the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) in all LGAs in the country. Other constraints include the following:
1. Lack of computer literacy and knowledge among the workers
2. Negative attitude of users (Workers) to ICT and inability of the workers to adapt to new methods of work practice
3. General resistance to especially when inadequate effort is made towards preparing them for change.
4. Deficient “technical infrastructure, especially telecom infrastructure” that has insufficient capacity, speed and coverage and that lacks adequate reliability to support significant grow in ICT services (Yonah 2002, Miller Esselaar and Associates 2002: 18)
5. Inadequate “human capital infrastructure to design, implement, manage and use ICT applications and services;” (Miller Esselaar and Associates 2002: 18)
6. Inadequate “legal and regulatory infrastructure to support and promote adoption and diffusion of ICT” (Miller Esselaar and Associates 2002: 18).
7. Lack of local content creation and poor access, all of which contribute to high costs of participation in the information society (URT 2003).
8. The hot climate and the unreliable power-supply also demands extra maintenance and special equipment for power supply.
9. High cost of installation and subscription for ICT services for normal domestic consumption,
10. Lack of capital to buy computers such that only a very small fraction of the population can afford a computer,
11. Lack of access to telephone lines and electricity,
12. Most of the Internet’s content is in English, and thus demands literacy in this language (Planmo, Marcus 2003).
Notwithstanding the many constraints, opportunities still exist for developing integrated ICT systems that will offer “a reliable and unified database to and from which all financial data will flow and which will be shared by all users using technologies that are simple and user friendly, utilizing off the shelf application software packages with appropriate customization” (World Bank n.d: 5). It is necessary to design the ICT solutions realistically in line with the actual needs of the LGAs and to consider skills development and technical support from a central ICT team as key elements of success of change management, as was done in Tanzania.
Questions and tool kits:
Questions on Communication, Awareness and Access to Information:
1. What do you understand by the terms ‘information’ and ‘communication’? Citing practical examples from your own experience discuss the role that information plays in the PB process and identify the various types of information that parties to a PB process require.
2. Why in your opinion, is it important or necessary to have a regulatory framework governing access to information by citizens? Based on examples from your own country discuss the main instruments that constitute a regulatory framework and explain what aspects of access to information for PB should be subject to regulation.
3. Explain the nature and extent to which the following factors may affect PB and information sharing both in your country and in your LGA:
(i) The Political and governmental context,
(ii) Social and cultural conditions and
(iii) Economic conditions
4. Explore the main opportunities that are available in your country for information dissemination, advocacy and awareness creation in your own local situation. What are the main constraints and how is it possible overcome them?
5. Examined the potential role of ICT and the constraints in managing information for PB and its practical limitations obtaining in your own national and local government situation.
Toolkits for Communication, Awareness and Access to Information :
1. The report card:
The report card was first design in 1993 in Bangalore, India, in response to public concern over the quality of services. The success of a report card initiative requires the combination of four factors:
(i) Understanding the socio-political context of governance and the structure of public finance;
(ii) Technical competence to design and analyze the survey;
(iii) Media and advocacy campaigns to bring the findings into the public domain; and
(iv) Institutionalization of the practices for community-involved actions (ITDG 2004).
The report card is used for local monitoring and evaluation of services; tracking of inputs or expenditures; creation of benchmark performance criteria; comparison of performance across facilities/districts; generating a feedback mechanism between providers and users; and, strengthening the voice of citizens. The report card reveals how inputs or expenditures match with entitlements or allocations at the local level; how both the community and providers score themselves according to their criteria and provides evidence on which scores are based as well as the basis for an action plan for improvements should be.
2. Community scorecards:
Community scorecards are a simple concrete tool for a community to claim their right to better services. The people create the scorecards: setting the criteria, defining the standards, and getting to meet face-to-face with their providers, sharing ideas on how to reform and improve. (World Bank 2004: 13): As a result a community becomes actively engaged in their right to better services and “Health service users and providers are now able to work as partners. Major decisions are made jointly with both sides willing to take up responsibility in improving the health delivery” (World Bank 2004: 12). The score card is an initiative of community empowerment that opens spaces of communication for the voices of the poor who are given the opportunity to dictate their needs and wants to those providing essential services. In this way, services are more fully used and their quality is enhanced. In Malawi for example, previous to the community score cards, public services lacked an element of public participation, largely because the local community had not been aware that such facilities actually belong to them (ITDG 2004).
3. Ordinances on free access to information:
Promulgation of a legal instrument to guarantee free access by all citizens to public municipal documents for the purpose of promoting transparency, urging citizen participation in supervision of the government's administration and stimulating actions to prevent corruption and administrative irregularities. The principal challenge does not lie in enacting the ordinance which is a simple job that can be done by a legislator, but rather lies in (i) educating society about how the ordinance should be used to bring to fruition the rights it embodies, on the one par, and on the other (ii) implementing practical and efficient mechanisms so that it really functions and is a part of everyday life.
4. Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS):
An integrated financial administration system which is a very useful instrument in financial management that permits clarity, efficiency and consistency of operations linked to budget execution, a system of cash and banks, treasury, accounting and other functions. It is an ICT solution that has a great potential role to play by making it possible to have accurate data and appropriate financial frameworks that are crucial determinants of service delivery and performance monitoring. The IFMS enables automation of financial systems and facilitates “efficient processing o f transactions, improved control, and timely production of accurate state annual accounts and financial reporting” (World Bank n.d: 34).
5. Geographical Information System (GIS):
GIS is an ICT based tool that makes it possible to rapidly process a great amount of spatial information and to clarify various kinds of phenomenon with greater “objectivity, transparency and accuracy” while making it possible for total cost of the process including time and labor to decrease significantly (Ikemi, H. et al, 2005). GIS creates a decision-making support system to better target investments, coordinate data with other stakeholders and facilitate the communication with, and participation of multiple stakeholders. GIS capacity can be enhanced by including social and poverty information to facilitate monitoring of indicators and impacts as a way of achieving a poverty impact of plans and programs.
6. Public Budget Hearing:
This is a mechanism that allows community participation in the formulation and monitoring of the execution of the municipal budget. Its objective is to develop and install a system to serve to facilitate access by citizens to information about the municipality, to promote transparency and municipal management accountability mechanisms, and to create a space so that the people can have a say as to their municipal government's budget. “This program … offers an information service, contributes to reducing the discretionality of authorities in the handling of the budget, ensures the rendering of accounts, and stimulates citizen participation and, therefore, is considered one of the most complete instruments of integrity and participatory democracy” WBI 2001: 28). This is an effective mechanism for participation in aspects of local public management that are of interest to the citizen, because the citizen has the mechanism to obtain information about how his municipal government functions and to understand how he can influence the decisions of the authorities. There are nine (9) preconditions for success of the Public Budget Hearing tool:
1. Political Will at the level of the Mayor, to opt for an open, participatory and efficient administration. 2. Financial planning capacity to formulate budgetary policies such as in the area of income, expenses, debts, must be improved.
3. Information on the municipal administration must be availed in an organized, systematized manner and generated in didactic format for the citizens.
4. Transparency and mechanism for dissemination of information on municipal administration, works programs, services and finance, via different media must exist.
5. Education for citizen participation: Citizens must be trained so that they can participate effectively and to the best interests of the government and the community.
6. Citizen mobilization. Public trust needs to be cultivated by developing the internal capacity to interact and cooperate with citizens
7. Execution of municipal works, services and programs: As far as resources permit, comply with all promises made to citizens and to execute the projects approved in the APP.
8. Accountability for all actions, particularly for the APP program and projects and invite citizens to supervise the handling of public assets must exist.
9. Society's examination of municipal administration must be accepted in order to stimulate new forms of relationship with citizens (Lubuva, J. M. 2002: 17).
7. Tools for implementing PRA:
PRA is an exercise in communication and transfer of knowledge. The learning by doing and teamwork spirit of PRA requires transparent procedures. For that reason, a series of open meetings (an initial open meeting, final meeting, and follow-up meeting) generally frame the sequence of PRA activities. Other tools common in PRA are Semi structured interviewing, Focus group discussions, Preference ranking, Mapping and modeling, Seasonal and historical diagramming. PRA techniques can be combined in a number of different ways. Mapping and modeling are good techniques to start with because they involve several people, stimulate much discussion and enthusiasm, provide the PRA team with an overview of the area, and deal with non-controversial information. Maps and models may lead to transect walks, perhaps accompanied by some of the people who have constructed the map. Wealth ranking is best done later in a PRA, once a degree of rapport has been established, given the relative sensitivity of this information. The current situation can be shown using maps and models, but subsequent seasonal and historical diagramming exercises can reveal changes and trends, throughout a single year or over several years. Preference ranking is a good icebreaker at the beginning of a group interview and helps focus the discussion. Later, individual interviews can follow up on the different preferences among the group members and the reasons for these differences. (World Bank 1996 Appendix 1)
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