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South Africa

Open Budgeting (ZA0017)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: South Africa’s Third National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: South African National Treasury

Support Institution(s): Government departments and entities; Civil Society Organisations

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Capacity Building, E-Government, Fiscal Openness, Open Data, Public Participation, Public Participation in Budget/Fiscal Policy, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information

IRM Review

IRM Report: South Africa End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, South Africa Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Major Major

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Status quo: South Africa is highly ranked in the world in terms of budget transparency. The vast amount of budget and reporting information available has however generally not equated to an equally high level of citizen participation in budget processes.

Main objective: Civil society involvement in the budget process in order to enhance the progressive realisation of socioeconomic rights, and enable citizens to track public expenditure.

Brief description: This commitment involves civil society in various aspects of the budget process from planning to implementation and monitoring and evaluation, enabling them to have a firmer grasp of how national resources are generated, distributed and reported upon.

Challenges: This commitment addresses the OGP grand challenge of More Effectively Managing Public Resources.

Intended results: The commitment of involving civil society in the budget process is all encompassing as it addresses the various OGP values through measures that will be taken to fulfil the commitment. These measures and their contributions to the OGP values are outlined below:
• Continuing to publish extensive budget data and the reforms being carried out by the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer in the National Treasury to make extensive procurement information available on a centrally accessible websites. Through these initiatives, government held information is put in the public domain- allowing for public analysis and scrutiny, affording citizens the opportunity to track government’s progress in terms of spending commitments made during the budget process. This aligns with the OGP values of access to information and public accountability.
• Support civil society in their preparation of citizen-friendly publications about national budgets tabled in Parliament. This also aligns with the OGP value of access to information.
• Discussions regarding the possible creation of a data portal advances the OGP value of technology and innovation for openness and accountability, as it will provide an interactive media platform for citizens to engage with government officials and receive feedback on specific aspects of the budget process. It will also allow for information sharing, public participation, and more accessible collaboration between citizens and government.
The organisation of budget road shows and information sessions serves to enhance civic participation as such platforms will afford citizens the opportunity to voice their opinions on specific budget issues relevant to their stakeholders.

Ambition: Opening up the budget process through the continuous publication of extensive budget and reporting information and data will be leveraged through organised engagement with civil society and will enable grass-root participation in governance, to ensure accountability in public financial management.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

Salud y bienestar

37. Registro de Egresos Hospitalarios del Ministerio de Salud en formatos abiertos

Texto del compromiso como aparece en el plan de acción:

Publicar en formato de datos abiertos la base de datos del Registro de Egresos Hospitalarios del Ministerio de Salud Pública, con datos demográficos básicos y clasificación de la enfermedad según el CIE 10. Los mismos serán publicados en el sitio web del Ministerio de Salud Pública y en el Catálogo Nacional de Datos Abiertos.

Los hitos de este compromiso son:

  • Realizar anonimización de base de datos del Registro de Egresos Hospitalarios del Ministerio de Salud.
  • Publicar en la web institucional y en Catálogo de Datos Abiertos.

Nota editorial: El texto completo del compromiso se encuentra en el Cuarto Plan de Acción Nacional de Gobierno Abierto de Uruguay 2018-2020, disponible aquí: https://goo.gl/XAMbNr

Fecha de inicio: Octubre 2018              Fecha de término: Mayo 2019

Contexto y objetivos

Los datos del Registro de Egresos Hospitalarios se originan en los establecimientos de salud que prestan internación hospitalaria y constituyen una herramienta para la aproximación al perfil de enfermedades, las necesidades y las demandas en salud. El registro brinda información estadística sobre causas de hospitalización y variables asociadas lo que permite realizar análisis con diferentes enfoques sobre la situación sanitaria, la gestión y la fiscalización, entre otros.

Actualmente, para acceder a los datos del registro se debe hacer un trámite de solicitud de información. En el marco de la mesa de trabajo de datos abiertos realizada el 9 de mayo de 2018 [151], durante el proceso de cocreación del cuarto plan de acción, la sociedad civil planteó, entre otras propuestas vinculadas al área salud y cuidados, la necesidad de tener disponibles en formato abierto los datos vinculados a los egresos hospitalarios. Este compromiso busca dar respuesta a dicha necesidad.

Desde el año 2008 la codificación de los egresos hospitalarios está incluida en el contrato de gestión que firman las instituciones de salud con la Junta Nacional de Salud (JUNASA) y su comunicación es obligatoria. Se reporta una vez al año dentro de los tres meses subsiguientes al cierre del ciclo que es el 31 de diciembre. 

La persona referente de DATA [152] manifestó, cuando se le consultó sobre este compromiso que los registros de egresos hospitalarios son indicadores de calidad muy importantes, que se pueden cruzar con otras variables (como por ejemplo con los indicadores de infectología) y tener un impacto mucho mayor. En principio, estos indicadores no se incluirían en el portal A Tu Servicio porque necesitan un nivel de interpretación relativamente alto, adecuado para investigadores u otro tipo de público especializado. Además, los registros no son de los prestadores de salud, como es el caso de A Tu Servicio, sino de hospitales públicos y privados donde actúan diversos prestadores.

Las acciones de este compromiso son específicas y por lo tanto su cumplimiento se puede evaluar por medios objetivos. El compromiso propone acciones tendientes a generar mayor transparencia y facilitar el acceso a la información, pero su impacto potencial será menor ya que la información que se abrirá sólo se podrá utilizar por un público especializado y no complementa o agrega valor a otras acciones que ya están en marcha en el mismo tema.

 

Siguientes pasos

Las investigadoras del MRI consideran que unn avance sustancial de este compromiso implicaría sumar los datos que se van a abrir al portal A Tu Servicio. Esto agregaría indicadores de calidad para evaluar el desempeño de las instituciones prestadoras de salud a través de un sistema que se ha consolidado durante los últimos años y que ha mantenido un número importante de usuarios. Sin embargo, la RGA considera que esto sería muy complejo, por lo cual un próximo paso más realizable es usar los datos para la construcción de un índice u otros análisis, que absorban esa complejidad y sí podrían potencialmente subirse al portal.

[152] Entrevista realizada a Daniel Carranza, DATA, 15/3/2019

IRM End of Term Status Summary

2. Open Budgeting

Commitment Text:

South Africa is highly ranked in the world in terms of budget transparency. The vast amount of budgeting and reporting information available has however generally not equated to an equally high level of citizen participation in budget processes.

The commitment involves civil society in various aspects of the budget process from planning to implementation and monitoring and evaluation, enabling them to have a firmer grasp of how national resources are generated, distributed and reported upon.

Milestones: Information sessions organised to engage with civil society and other stakeholders on the budgetary and reporting issues. Civil society engagement on current procurement reforms being undertaken by the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer in the National Treasury. The National Treasury will continue to provide information and support to civil society organisations to enable them to publish Citizens’ Guides to the Budget. The National Treasury will collaborate with civil society organisations to discuss the possible development of an interactive data portal to furnish the public with extensive information on the budget and expenditure outcomes to make data more understandable and to aid civil society in their analysis

Responsible Institution: South African National Treasury

Supporting Institutions: Government departments

Start Date: 2015

End Date: 2016/17

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to deepen citizen engagement in the budget process in order to enhance the progressive realisation of socioeconomic rights and enable citizens to track public expenditure. The commitment entailed making government-held information on the budget and procurement accessible to the public via centrally accessible websites, and envisioned new platforms for citizens to voice their opinions on specific budget issues through roadshows, information sessions and an interactive data portal.[13]

Status

Midterm: Complete

By the time of the midterm review, the government had completed the activities associated with this commitment and some activities exceeded their original scope. The Budget Reform Directorate of the National Treasury engaged with a number of CSOs through the Public Service Accountability Monitor to craft a series of budget engagements where the perspectives and budget requests of participating CSOs were taken into consideration and informed the workshop plans.[14] The government and CSOs also collaboratively developed an interactive data portal on budget and expenditure outcomes. A governance framework for the project had been formalised, comprising an Operational Working Group to deal with day-to-day operational issues, and a steering committee tasked with considering overarching governance issues, such as the relevance and accessibility of the data on the interactive portal. CSOs were represented on both tiers of the governance framework.[15] The government made little progress in developing a platform for making government-held information on procurement publicly accessible, as there had been rapid change in the senior leadership of the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer.[16]

Notwithstanding the completion of this commitment by the midterm, the launch in February 2018 of ‘Vuleka Mali’, an online budget data portal, is a major development extending the aim of this commitment.[17] The data portal was initially focused on the budget, but is planned to be extended over time to include wider government institutional information, including performance and procurement information.[18] The site contains links to national and provincial department budgets for four cycles (from 2015-2016 to 2018-19),[19] learning resources on the budget and budget process in five official languages,[20] and links to additional datasets, including analyses contributed by civil society stakeholders and other socio-economic data sources (for example, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation’s evaluations repository, which contains detailed documents for every major government evaluation undertaken since 2006).[21]

The National Treasury developed Vuleka Mali in collaboration with IMALI YETHU, an open coalition of CSOs working to make budget information more accessible, user-friendly, and to empower civil society during the budgetary process.[22] Vuleka Mali has been developed using an ‘agile’ project development approach, which entails iterative development in rapid cycles and active user involvement throughout the project cycle.[23] To this end, the project has incorporated hackathons (encouraging participants to work with data available through the portal), Data Quests (designed to understand user data needs), and civic information events.[24] The Treasury also co-ordinated a naming competition for the portal that extended to users who were not online (for example, the agency received competition names in paper envelopes.[25]

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Major

Civic Participation: Major

In recent years, South Africa has ranked high in the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey, ranking first out of 115 countries, tied with New Zealand, in 2017.[26] However, while budgetary information was made available on the National Treasury website, the data was static, unintegrated and not conducive to public interaction.[27] Prior to the commitment, there were opportunities for the public to participate in budgetary processes at national and provincial levels of government. Civil society associations could make submissions to the committees of Parliament or the provincial legislatures; prior to the release of major budgets the Treasury Communications team sometimes put out press releases asking South Africans for inputs (‘tips for Trevor’, ‘notes for Nene’), the Treasury co-operated with civil society to prepare Peoples’ Guides on the Budget. Also, civil society and the media were given access to the budget on the day of its release and were allowed to engage with government officials.[28] These opportunities still exist.

However, Treasury officials and CSOs did not believe that the levels of participation were optimum.[29] The technicality of the process, and the form in which information was made available, still made the process intimidating.[30] Glen Robbins, a research associate at the School of Economics, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, said that CSOs were concerned about the lack of adequate space for budgetary engagement.[31] Organizations that were affected by budgetary cuts found that administrative barriers were put in their way when they wished to engage government officials on budgetary issues, particularly at provincial level.[32] South Africa accordingly wished to deepen its commitment to open budgeting through the completion of this commitment and the development of the Vuleka Mali portal.

In terms of access to information, the Vuleka Mali project provides consolidated, time series-linked access to budget data. For example, the portal enables users to view the budgets for all national and provincial departments, from FY 2015–2016 to 2018–2019. Each department’s page includes the departmental expenditure from the Estimates of National Expenditure, a book published along with the tabling of the budget in each FY; the budgets for each programme within a department, and the budgeted spending for each sub-programme. The portal sets out information on budgeted and actual expenditure, incorporating the estimates set out in the Medium Term Expenditure-Framework. As such, it is possible to determine if a department’s expenditure is increasing or decreasing in real terms. The portal includes information on the budgeting process and details of what the Treasury and different departments are busy with at different times of the year.

Civil society stakeholders agreed that Vuleka Mali had transformed the way Treasury presents budget data, with a concerted effort being made to understand and respond to the needs of data users. Kirsten Pearson, ex-government employee and current co-ordinator of the Budget Justice Coalition said that the information is presented in a visually appealing way and includes video material explaining the budgetary process through the eyes of the citizen.[33] Glen Robbins held that the portal was a major improvement to the previous forms of access to provincial budgetary information (hardcopy files and excel sheets that were not made available timeously). It was also helpful to have a site that brought the information together in one place.[34] Although Ms Zukiswa Kota, Head of Monitoring and Advocacy at the Public Service Accountability Monitor, agreed that the commitment had improved access to information, she said that much of this information was already in the public domain. The challenge going forward would be to extend the type of data available to sets that have not previously been made public, such as non-financial performance data, procurement information and provincial quarterly reports. This could involve strategic engagement with other state entities or departments.[35]

Civil society views on the commitment’s impact on civic participation were somewhat more muted. Kirsten Pearson believed that the Vuleka Mali portal promotes civic participation by enabling individuals and civil society organizations to know at which level it is best to participate (national or provincial level of government, line department vs Treasury), and when it is best to make submissions.[36] She acknowledged, however, that although digital exclusion was something the Vuleka Mali project team had considered and engaged, to some extent the portal still relied on the work of intermediaries who could advocate on behalf of others with lower levels of budget literacy.[37] Glen Robbins remarked that the accessibility of the information, and its impact on civic participation, could depend on the extent to which users were familiar with government processes.[38] Furthermore, the specificity of the data on the portal, and the interpretation of such data, could at times function as a barrier to civic participation. Rather than engaging on the substantive budgetary issue at hand, provincial government officials had in at least one case disputed civil society’s opinion on how the money was being spent. This pointed to a need to educate public officials on the use of the portal, alongside members of civil society.[39]

A strong opinion was nevertheless expressed that with IMALI YETHU, the Treasury had achieved a genuine partnership with civil society. Strong working relationships had been established between government and civil society, which had significant value for civic participation going forward.[40]

Carried Forward?

At the time of writing this report, South Africa has not finished developing its fourth action plan. The IRM researcher recommends carrying forward this commitment to the next action plan, with a focus on the Vuleka Mali project stages three (incorporating wider government institutional information) and four (incorporating spatial data to provide a view of budget-related information at national and provincial public entities and municipal levels across sectors and by economic classification). To deepen civic participation, project proponents could consider incorporating the public participation standards produced by the Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency, working closer with budget intermediaries and developing an educational program on Vuleka Mali for officials in national and provincial governments.

[13] Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): South Africa Progress Report 2016 – 2018, 35, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/South-Africa_MidTerm-Report_2016-2018.pdf

[14] Ibid 35.

[15] Ibid 36.

[16] Ibid 35.

[17] South African Government Budget Data & Analysis, https://vulekamali.gov.za

[18] Vuleka Mali ‘Background’, https://vulekamali.gov.za/about

[19] Vuleka Mali ‘Department budgets’, https://vulekamali.gov.za/2018-19/departments

[20] Vuleka Mali ‘Learning resources’, https://vulekamali.gov.za/videos

[22] Imali Yethu ‘Open Budgets For What? For Who?’, https://imaliyethu.org.za

[23] Vuleka Mali ‘Background’, https://vulekamali.gov.za/about

[24] Ibid.

[25] Kirsten Pearson, Co-ordinator of the Budget Justice Coalition, former Deputy Director, Government Technical Advisory Centre, interview with IRM researcher, 25 January 2019.

[26] Vuleka Mali ‘Background’, https://vulekamali.gov.za/about

[27] Kay Brown, Chief Director: Expenditure Planning, National The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a voluntary international initiative that aims to secure commitments from government to their citizenry to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) carries out a review of the activities of each OGP participating country. This report summarizes the final results of the period between October 2016 and December 2017 and includes relevant developments up to May 2018.

Treasury; Andisile Best, Director: Budget Reform, National Treasury; Prudence Cele, Deputy Director: Budget Reform, National Treasury, focus group discussion with IRM researcher, 5 September 2017.

[28] Kirsten Pearson, Co-ordinator of the Budget Justice Coalition, former Deputy Director, Government Technical Advisory Centre, interview with IRM researcher, 25 January 2019.

[29] Citizen participation in the budgeting process took place prior to the commitment formulated in the current action plan. For example, a Citizen’s Guide to the Budget was published in 2015/2016 and at that time the National Treasury was already in ongoing discussions with a civil society coalition of about 50 organisations interested in the budget. Kay Brown, Chief Director: Expenditure Planning, National Treasury; Andisile Best, Director: Budget Reform, National Treasury; Prudence Cele, Deputy Director: Budget Reform, National Treasury, focus group discussion with IRM researcher, 5 September 2017.

[30] Kirsten Pearson, Co-ordinator of the Budget Justice Coalition, former Deputy Director, Government Technical Advisory Centre, interview with IRM researcher, 25 January 2019.

[31] Glen Robbins, research associate, PRISM, School of Economics, University of KwaZulu-Natal; research fellow, Urban Futures Centre, Durban University of Technology, UN Consultant, interview with IRM researcher, 29 January 2019.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Kirsten Pearson, Co-ordinator of the Budget Justice Coalition, former Deputy Director, Government Technical Advisory Centre, interview with IRM researcher, 25 January 2019.

[34] Glen Robbins, research associate, PRISM, School of Economics, University of KwaZulu-Natal; research fellow, Urban Futures Centre, Durban University of Technology, UN Consultant, interview with IRM researcher, 29 January 2019. Mr Robbins uses the Vuleka Mali site and has been an active commentator on its development.

[35] Ms Zukiswa Kota, Head of Monitoring and Advocacy at the Public Service Accountability Monitor, interview with IRM researcher, 15 October 2018.

[36] Kirsten Pearson, Co-ordinator of the Budget Justice Coalition, former Deputy Director, Government Technical Advisory Centre, interview with IRM researcher, 25 January 2019.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Glen Robbins, research associate, PRISM, School of Economics, University of KwaZulu-Natal; research fellow, Urban Futures Centre, Durban University of Technology, UN Consultant, interview with IRM researcher, 29 January 2019.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Kirsten Pearson, Co-ordinator of the Budget Justice Coalition, former Deputy Director, Government Technical Advisory Centre, interview with IRM researcher, 25 January 2019.


Commitments

  1. Citizen-Based Monitoring

    ZA0016, 2016, Capacity Building

  2. Open Budgeting

    ZA0017, 2016, Access to Information

  3. Back to Basics Programme

    ZA0018, 2016, Access to Information

  4. Environmental Management Information Portal

    ZA0019, 2016, Access to Information

  5. Institutionalisation of Community Advice Offices as Part of the Wider Justice Network

    ZA0020, 2016, Access to Justice

  6. Department of Public Service and Administration

    ZA0021, 2016, Access to Information

  7. OGP Awareness Raising Campaign

    ZA0022, 2016, E-Government

  8. Implement the G20 High Level Principles on Beneficial Ownership Transparency 2. Implement a Register of Legal Persons and Arrangements

    ZA0023, 2016, Access to Information

  9. Develop and Implement an Accountability/Consequences Management Framework for Public Servants

    ZA0009, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  10. Service Delivery Improvement Forums (SDIFs)

    ZA0010, 2013, E-Government

  11. Mainstream Citizen Participation in the Public Sector

    ZA0011, 2013, Capacity Building

  12. Develop an Integrated and Publicly Accessible Portal of Environmental Management Information

    ZA0012, 2013, Environment and Climate

  13. Development of an On-Line Crowdsourcing Tool That Will Allow the Public to Submit Data on Protected Areas and Conservation Areas.

    ZA0013, 2013, Environment and Climate

  14. Schools Connectivity

    ZA0014, 2013, Education

  15. Implement a Know Your Service Rights and Responsibilities Campaign

    ZA0015, 2013, Capacity Building

  16. Accountability/ Consequences Management Framework

    ZA0001, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  17. Service Delivery Improvement Forums

    ZA0002, 2012, Public Participation

  18. Know Your Service Rights and Responsibilities

    ZA0003, 2012, Capacity Building

  19. National Anti-Corruption Forum and Anti-Corruption Hotline

    ZA0004, 2012, Capacity Building

  20. Guidelines for Corruption-Related Sanctions

    ZA0005, 2012, Capacity Building

  21. Develop a Citizen Participation Guideline

    ZA0006, 2012, Capacity Building

  22. Enhance Involvement of Civil Society in the Budget Process

    ZA0007, 2012, E-Government

  23. Environmental Management Portal Feasibility Study

    ZA0008, 2012, E-Government

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