Government budget, read all about it!

Wikimedia doesn't have many photos of government budgets
Wikimedia doesn’t have many photos of government budgets

Today’s post is from Kate Lancaster, editor in charge of publications on government finance at the OECD.

Government budgets are news. Tough choices have had to be made in these challenging economic times and we’re all interested in how our governments are managing our money.

While the big headlines capture our attention – “Spending Plan: Seven More Years of Pain”, “Government Shutting Down” – do you ever wonder what’s actually happening behind the scenes? Despite the political clashes that make the news, there is still solid, steady work going on in countries, ensuring that governments can manage fiscal reforms responsibly and budget well, as OECD research shows.

Interested in the nitty-gritty of how countries create and manage their budgets? Check out the OECD Journal on Budgeting, which draws on the work of senior budget officials from around the world and whose issues include reviews of the budgetary systems of more than thirty countries.

Concerned about reforms of public administration and about the quality of services delivered to the public? Have a look at the OECD’s Value for Money in Government series.

Want to learn more about the hard truths many countries are facing, as they decide where to spend, where to save, and how to do it all efficiently? The OECD’s recent review of Greece’s ongoing welfare system reforms may interest you, as may Restoring Public Finances.

Wondering about how your country’s borrowing needs compare? The OECD Sovereign Borrowing Outlook may be the book for you.

Worried about how much your government owes? This table, which presents governments’ deficits and surpluses (as a percent of GDP), may interest you, as might this one on government debt, while you’ll find the full picture in OECD Central Government Debt Statistics.

Want to know what it’s really all about? Watch this:

Useful links

OECD work on budgeting and public expenditures

Defying fiscal deficits

Government budgets are under pressure as the recession and economic crisis continue to take a toll. The crisis has pushed public deficits and debt to unsustainable levels for many countries, OECD experts say, as weak economic activity causes tax revenues to dwindle, forcing crisis-embattled governments to borrow in a cautious market to pay for services and welfare, and in some cases, still limping banking sectors.