Commitments

Ensure opportunity for public engagement in all stages of military budgeting and spending

What are illustrative commitments

About this Commitment

Amibition Level

  • Intermediate Step

Sources of guidance

Requires new legislation?

  • Yes

Justification

Sound financial management is necessary to maintaining efficient and effective security forces capable of responding to legitimate security needs. This, in turn, requires a publicly accountable process of budgeting, expenditure, procurement and accounting.

Publication of defence and any other national security budgets is an essential first step to allow citizens and their representatives in parliament to understand how their funds are being spent and to allow them to hold their government accountable for these expenditures.  No part of this budget should avoid scrutiny by some part of the parliament.  Effective parliamentary oversight requires the adequate resourcing of a specialised committee or subcommittee with formal powers to reject or modify the government’s proposed national security budget (Transparency International, 2013). [1]

Public procurement is frequently a source of corruption in countries of all income levels.  Military procurement is especially so, given the prevalent lack of transparency in this sector, and the frequent use of off-budget revenue sources.

Finally, public scrutiny institutions, such as audit agencies, anti-corruption agencies, and parliamentary public accounts committees must be authorised and resourced to do their job, making clear that military expenditure is within their mandate.

Recommendation

  1. Enact laws making clear that parliament oversees (in open or closed session) all national security expenditures, including procurement decisions.
  2. Publish a detailed legislative proposal for the coming year’s military budget with sufficient lead time to permit open debate and amendment before the budget is finalised.
  3. Publish all contracts for procurement of military or other equipment over a reasonable threshold (threshold will vary depending on the government’s level of military expenditure). In order to minimise corruption relating to military procurement, governments should maintain a national, publicly accessible database of all major procurement contracts.
  4. Include all military spending in an annual independent audit, including all sources of revenue. The audit report should be published and locally accessible.

Other References

  • [1] Transparency International (2013) Watchdogs? The quality of legislative oversight of defence in 82 countries. http://government.defenceindex.org/sites/default/files/documents/Watchdogs-low.pdf

Standards & Guidance