Budget for X

How might we improve the quality and diversity of proposals and suggestions of domain experts in the state budget? Download the blueprint to follow along!
A scene from Budget for X

Budget for X builds on structure and flow of the Budget4Justice campaign, a joint collaboration of CivicDataLab and Agami which invited organisations working in the law and justice sector to submit detailed budget proposals for Assam Budget 2020-21. It shows what a sector focused participatory budgeting campaign would look like for any sector (not just law and justice).

Summary

Stage 1: Setting Up

The first stage involves finding a host organisation that will take responsibility for facilitating deliberations in a specific sector like health, education, law and justice, etc. The government officials and the knowledge partner will find and partner with such a host who based on local and sector relevance and credibility. For example, UNICEF can be the host for issues related to child rights and education.

The knowledge partner provides the host with key resources in the form of a kit and orientation sessions. This will come handy in managing the activities in the next stage.

Stage 2: Training

Once the host is trained, a call is put out inviting organisations and independent experts working in the sector to participate in the civic consultation. The host and knowledge partner then provide the necessary know how and insight into how these participants can use budget data to come up with meaningful budget suggestions for their areas of concern.

After a short break, participants are called back for a one day seminar to discuss their draft proposals with other stakeholders including a representative from the Finance Department. The polished proposals are then uploaded to the government portal to make it available for the campaign stage.

The government portal referred to here will be based on the open source participatory budgeting platform called CONSUL, which has entire workflows for supporting participatory budgeting activities and is user friendly.

Stage 3: Campaign

The participating NGOs then garner support for their proposals and meet their beneficiaries and partners to further improve their proposals. All the votes and discussions reflect on the government portal.

Stage 4: Government Review

After the campaign ends, the Finance Department, other state level department officials and the knowledge partner work closely to sort, review and assess the proposals and make a case for including them in the proposed state budget to the budget team lead by the Finance Minister. The participating NGOs might be invited for discussion with relevant departments for clarifying details if need be. The stage ends with a formal announcement giving an overview of the outcome of the process.

Stage 4: Budget Announcement and Closure

The budget is announced by the Finance Minster at the Legislative Assembly. The Government closes the feedback loop for NGOs by providing them a report of how their proposals were reviewed and how they can be involved in the process going forward. The proposals, with their updated statues, will continue to be available on the government portal