The International Budget Partnership released a global scorecard of accountability that found widespread weaknesses in transparency and oversight of COVID assistance, estimated to have reached $14 trillion USD by the end of 2020. It is crucial that governments be transparent and accountable as these massive expenditures are having short and long-term consequences for their public finances and most importantly, their people.

The rapid assessment of 120 countries across 26 indicators of transparency, oversight and public participation in the management of Coronavirus assistance found the following:

  • More than two thirds of governments fell short of managing their emergency packages in an accountable manner.
  • Almost two-thirds failed to follow transparent procurement procedures.
  • Almost half of the countries bypassed legislatures to introduce relief packages.
  • Only about a quarter of national auditors published expedited audit reports.

‘When the crisis broke, we urged governments to be transparent and accountable because we knew from our Open Budget Survey there were weaknesses in accountability systems globally,’ said Vivek Ramkumar, senior policy director of the International Budget Partnership.

‘Unfortunately, this scorecard shows too many governments are falling short, to the detriment of the publics they serve. It doesn’t have to be this way—we encourage countries to incorporate the good practices our report highlights in ongoing relief efforts and international donors to support country-led efforts to strengthen accountability norms.’

Despite overall bleak trends globally, the report highlights promising examples from countries that show a different way to respond is possible even with limited resources:

  • Paraguay has a one-stop-shop site that publishes all pandemic-related procurement.
  • 22 countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Canada and Togo recognized the disproportionate
  • impacts on women and published information on policies targeting women.
  • Sierra Leone’s national auditor used real-time audits building on the Ebola crisis experience.
  • Citizen-led efforts like South Africa’s Asivikelane, which use scorecards to track water and
  • sanitation services, prove valuable to authorities and should be replicated by governments.

‘This crisis is far from over. We must keep mobilizing resources for the pandemic response, including ensuring everyone has equitable access to vaccines,’ said Sofia Sprechmann Sineiro, Secretary General of CARE International.

‘If we are serious about equity and justice, we must be serious about accountability. This is about ensuring assistance reaches those who need it most.’

Download the global report

Download the Australian country findings


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