Understanding of budgets and government expenditure has long been the preserve of government officials and a few academics. The documents that relate to it are typically inaccessible and clouded by technical language. Yet it is here that government policy is translated into action and outcomes. It is important that NGOs engage with public expenditure issues both to strengthen their policy advocacy and to improve government transparency and accountability. "Holding Governments to Account" provides an introduction to public expenditure analysis and advocacy for NGO practitioners. It begins by clearly explaining how budgets and public spending processes work, both in theory and in practice, with an emphasis on developing countries. It goes on to look at different approaches to analysing public expenditure including aggregate public spending, allocation of resources within and between sectors, benefit-incidence, cost effectiveness and cost-benefits.
The final section looks at how this analysis can be used to highlight where government spending patterns are not consistent with their stated aims or are inequitable, and at how to promote budget reform and increased participation in the budget process. The extensive glossary of technical terms, from budget compliance to fungibility, helps demystify the subject and where these terms appear in the text they are highlighted, aiding its use. Further reading, including web resources, are signposted at the end of each chapter. "Holding Governments to Account" should be useful to development workers and researchers involved in advocacy at the national level and to those promoting good governance.