On the release of the Open Budget Survey 2015

On 10 September, the International Budget Partnership (IBP) released the Open Budget Survey 2015, the fifth of its kind since 2006.

The survey, information for which was gathered over May-June 2015, includes 102 countries covering "all regions and all levels of revenues." IBP postponed survey release for a year "in order to undertake a number of improvements to the Survey questions and lay out a new online platform for gathering survey findings." As a result of these improvements, the number of questions in 2015 questionnaire went up from 125 to 140, some questions were changed and a number of traditional ones used since 2006 were excluded.
This fate befell, among other, the question about the share of secret budget expenditure under the pretext that the answers to these questions "were hard to verify." Thus, IBP not only elegantly and politically correctly hid a serious drawback of its methodology allowing to consider quite "open" classified budgets but, intentionally or not, removed a serious impediment for our country with its 16.7% classified federal budget expenditure taking upper ratings in the IBP survey.
However, despite this concession Russia's place in the Open Budget Index for 2+ years past from the previous publication of the survey has not practically changed. Russia scored 74 points as in the previous Index and occupied the ninth place (instead of the 7th place shared with Slovenia in the previous Index) staying behind Great Britain, Rumania and Peru taking the 8th place. First place in this year survey took New Zealand and the USA dropped from the 3rd to the 5th place.
Stability of the Russian results becomes understandable if we look at the Russian questionnaire uploaded on the IBP website. According to the questionnaire positive effect obtained from the RF Finance Ministry's public participation budget turned out to be compensated by insufficient actual public participation in the budget discussion that the IBP had on a number of the Survey questions change the assessment of the Russian expert from "bad" to "excellent" under a pretext that in other countries it is still worse.
Our proper alternative assessment of the Russian budget transparency by using the IBP calculator which takes into account the lack of provision of the budget expenditure in terms of the economic classification and incomplete cover by the programs of the federal budget expenditure, places Russia with 65 points at the same place as Bulgaria, South Korea and Malawi which is also quite good result.

Vasily Zatsepin – candidate of science (warfare), Head of Economics of the Military-Industrial Sector Department