The purpose of this training module is to build on the Parliament and the Budget module by examining in more detail the work of independent, objective, nonpartisan Parliamentary Budget Offices (PBO) and their contribution to the budget process.
Legislative decision making needs to be based on comprehensive, accurate, appropriate and timely information. This is particularly true of an essential part of accountable governance: The budget process. However, in most countries budgetary information is normally generated from the executive and the information supplied to parliamentarians is weak. Often the only source of narrative information is the budget speech and the budget document itself may contain minimal narrative that outlines the policies underlying tax and spending proposals. In many developing countries, the comprehensiveness of information on donor funding may be lacking. The lack of accurate, appropriate and timely information makes it difficult for parliamentarians and their staff to understand the policy basis of the budget, relate expenditures to budget objectives, and to evaluate whether the budget adequately reflects stated government policy.
Budget research capacity is negligible or non-existent in many legislatures, yet there is plenty of evidence to suggest that many legislatures are rethinking their role in the budget process and reasserting themselves as more active players. The purpose of this training couse is to build on the 'Parliaments and the Budget' course by examining in more detail the work of independent, objective, nonpartisan Parliamentary Budget Offices (PBO) and their contribution to the budget process. A PBO is an independent, objective unit that specializes in high quality research and analysis on fiscal policy for the Parliament. It provides independent, non-partisan and policy neutral analysis on the full budget cycle, fiscal policy and the financial implications of proposals. Some of the key factors considered in this course include the tasks a PBO should undertake, the resources it needs to carry out those tasks and its institutional structure, accountability and discretion.