Behind Hewlett’s $4 Million Grant For International Budget Transparency

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, with its gold-standard work on domestic issues affecting low-income Americans, has long been a major player inside the Beltway and a magnet for foundation dollars. Less well known is that CBPP also has a sizeable operation focused on international budgetary issues, with some twenty staffers in this area. 

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been one of the biggest supporters of this side of CBPP's work, and just this spring, announced a 24-month $4 million grant to CBPP in support of its International Budget Partnership.

The IBP starts from a simple premise: "If you want to fight poverty, you need to care about government budgets." Why? Because the ability of governments to effectively raise and allocate resources is a pre-condition to building schools, health centers, infrastructure, fostering growth, and much more. 

In too many cases, though, budgetary systems are archaic and opaque, and, at their worst, mechanisms for systemic corruption. Even funds clearly designated to help poor communities can vanish into a murky void. 

The IBP is fighting for a different future. It works with civil society organizations to increase budget transparency globally, fostering more participatory and inclusive government budget processes that can reduce corruption, systematize tax collection and increase the efficiency of tax government services.

It's hard, pick-and-shovel work, and CBPP and its partners have been at this for over 15 years now. 

Hewlett has described their most recent grant as supporting the IBP’s “continued work measuring budget transparency in 100 countries, as well as providing training and technical assistance to local organizations on how to incorporate budget analysis into their advocacy campaigns.” The funds will advance one of IBP's signature efforts, its nifty Open Budget Index which rates countries on how well they do at sharing information with the public throughout the budget process. 

Hewlett has a longstanding relationship to CBPP. While past grants range in purpose, sometimes helping to cover general operating expenses, grants in support of the IBP’s work dates back to 2006, with a $1.8 million grant. Subsequent grants were made in the years 2008, 2009 and from 2011 through 2014 for the International Budget Partnerships global development and good governance work.

All this is part of Hewlett's broader commitment to making governments in developing countries more responsive to ordinary people.