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Managing COVID Funds: the accountability gap Communications toolkit

This toolkit is available in English, French and Spanish.

The COVID crisis has resulted in governments committing more than $14 trillion in emergency spending.

We conducted a rapid assessment of 120 countries' performance on transparency, oversight and public participation in COVID relief packages. Please join us on May 24 for a virtual presentation of the findings and recommendations for how governments can advance open budget reforms that ensure assistance reaches those who need it most and helps build back better.

Our high-level panel will include:

  • Khalid Payenda, Acting Minister of Finance, Afghanistan (@KhalidPayenda, @afghanistanmof)
  • Michael G. Aguinaldo, Chairperson of the Commission on Audit, the Philippines
  • Carolina Rentería, Chief, Public Financial Management Division I, Fiscal Affairs Department, International Monetary Fund (@carorent, @IMFNews)
  • Shumani Luruli, Programme Coordinator, Planact, South Africa (@Planact_NGO)
  • Vivek Ramkumar, Senior Director of Policy, International Budget Partnership (@OpenBudgets)
  • Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro (Moderator), Board member of IBP and Secretary General, CARE International (@SofiaSprechmann, @CAREGlobal)

Join us Monday, 24 May from 9:00-10:30 am EST for this virtual event. Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/global-scorecard-of-accountability-in-the-management-of-covid-funds-launch-registration-151828201237.

Join the conversation

Join people around the world in discussing this latest assessment, country results, and examples of good practices on social media. We have provided below some suggested social media posts, but please feel free to adapt them to your own organization or institution.

HASHTAGS: #OpenBudgets, #Account4COVID

WEBSITE: http://www.internationalbudget.org/covid

IBP HANDLES: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram

Suggested posts for May 24 event

How open and accountable has your government been in their COVID response? Join @OpenBudgets on May 24 at 9am EST for the launch of their global scorecard of #accountability in the management of COVID funds. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/managing-covid-funds-a-global-scorecard-of-accountability-registration-151828201237 #OpenBudgets #Account4COVID

Join IBP May 24 to discuss how open & accountable govts have been in their #COVID response, w/ @KhalidPayenda, @carorent, Michael Aguinaldo (#Philippines Audit Commission), Shumani Luruli (@Planact_NGO), IBP’s Anjali Garg, & @SofiaSprechmann as moderator: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/managing-covid-funds-a-global-scorecard-of-accountability-registration-151828201237

IBP & partner orgs did a rapid assessment of 120 countries’ #transparency, oversight & public participation in COVID relief packages. How has your govt's fiscal policy response fared? Find out & join the discussion on May 24: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/managing-covid-funds-a-global-scorecard-of-accountability-registration-151828201237 #OpenBudgets #Account4COVID

Govt responses to the COVID crisis have varied widely in scale & scope. The levels of transparency & accountability in emergency fiscal policies is no different. Join @OpenBudgets on May 24 as they release new research on managing COVID funds. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/managing-covid-funds-a-global-scorecard-of-accountability-registration-151828201237 #OpenBudgets

Content and posts for report launch

Social Media Graphics (available in English, French and Spanish)

Suggested posts

IBP's new research in 120 countries shows govt fiscal policy responses to the COVID crisis are undermining #accountability—by bypassing legislatures, relaxing procurement procedures & not seeking public input. View your country's scorecard at www.internationalbudget.org/covid #OpenBudgets

New @OpenBudgets research finds that only 4 countries out of 120—Australia, Norway, Peru & Philippines—allowed for adequate levels of accountability in COVID fiscal policies. How open & accountable has your govt been in their COVID response? www.internationalbudget.org/covid #Account4COVID

Our new research in 120 countries found that more than 2/3 of govts failed to provide enough info in COVID relief packages, and almost half bypassed legislatures to introduce them. How open & accountable has your govt been? https://internationalbudget.org/covid #OpenBudgets #Account4COVID

The COVID crisis has had a disproportionate impact on women and girls, but only 22 countries published info on COVID relief policies targeted towards women. www.internationalbudget.org/covid #OpenBudgets #Account4COVID

If we are serious about equity and justice, we must get serious about #accountability. How open & accountable has your govt been in their COVID response? https://internationalbudget.org/covid #OpenBudgets #Account4COVID

When govts introduce COVID fiscal policy responses through executive actions, they sidestep the normal process and prevent public debate. Urgency is no excuse for a lack of transparency & accountability. www.internationalbudget.org/covid #OpenBudgets #Account4COVID

In only about 25% of countries were govt auditors able to publish audit reports before the end of 2020. Check your country’s COVID #accountability scorecard at https://internationalbudget.org/covid #OpenBudgets #Account4COVID

Even during terrible crises, #accountability can work if everyone does their part in an open & collaborative way. @OpenBudgets documented numerous good practices among govt & accountability institutions in their COVID responses: www.internationalbudget.org/covid #OpenBudgets #Account4COVID

Key Messages

To build back better, governments should facilitate public debate and oversight. When officials are transparent and inclusive—and make space for historically marginalized voices to be heard—they ensure scarce resources are used wisely. When speed and accountability are pursued together, the public gets better services, which builds confidence that government can deliver. Public trust is critical to recover and renew our societies after COVID.

The international community must also make clear that governments should not just “keep the receipts,” as the IMF urged at the start of the crisis, but publish openly what they spend and what impact it is having. Donors should urge and support country-led efforts to publish more information about what they are spending and its impacts, and to facilitate oversight by legislatures, auditors and citizens.

COVID was an unprecedented shock. This was an undoubtedly difficult emergency for governments to manage. It required swift action, but too many are using the excuse of urgency to not be as transparent, accountable, or inclusive as they could be.

The volume of funds channeled for COVID-19 relief laid bare weaknesses in accountability we have seen consistently in the Open Budget Survey.

When a crisis hits, no one has all the answers. It takes all hands-on-deck to have an effective response and a resilient recovery. When citizens have a say, governments can fill informational gaps and make better decisions to ensure relief reaches those who need it most. When auditors and legislators have the independence and mandate to monitor implementation, governments can course-correct if assistance is not meeting its targets.

Make no mistake, this crisis is not over, and we must keep mobilizing resources for the global COVID response, including filling the funding gap for COVAX to ensure everyone has equitable access to vaccines. But if we are serious about equity and justice, we must simultaneously get serious about accountability. This is about ensuring assistance reaches those who need it most. When governments do not deliver as promised, underserved communities bear the brunt.