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Public Sector Accountability and Transparency

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Introduction

We define government accountability as the ability of government officials to take responsibility for the decisions they take while transparency is demonstrated by the openness in the process in which the decisions are made and executed. We regard accessibility to and presentation of information including reasons and justifications for such decisions being at the core to the accountability and transparency ecosystem.

Simplification and presentation of budgets and policy documents
Public finance has generally been considered a difficult field for various segments of the society. This is compounded by technicalities and voluminous nature of public finance documents such as budgets from which ordinary citizens, mostly with inadequate public finance knowledge are expected to read and understand its contents. Considering these factors and, the assumption that citizens would derive knowledge and information about how their taxes are managed, being the basis in which public set expectations on goods and services – delivery of services and developmental decisions are always far from alignment to needs of citizens. Moreover, majority of political leaders whose role is to scrutinize the contents of these documents, with view of approval, and subsequently oversight their implementation, are not spared by the technicalities. CIOG Kenya endeavors to experiment new ideas of making budget information accessible to ordinary citizens and wider public finance community.
Adequacy of Reasons and Justifications
Governments and citizens have to make trade-offs between competing priorities while deciding on how to spend the scarce resources in their possession. The challenge remains how to rationally and objectively make these trade-offs. International Budget Partnership Kenya in its paper ‘In Search of Adequate Public Reasons in Kenya’s Budget Documents’ argue that reasons and justifications is one way to do so, alongside application of deliberative participatory approaches. IBP Kenya’s argument is also about how to assess the adequacy of such reasons and justifications because if the reasons are inadequate, it makes less sense to provide them. Accompanying IBP Kenya’s paper is a tool to assess adequacy of reasons. CIOG Kenya applies this tool to establish the extent to which decisions taken are backed by reasons and whether those reasons are adequate.