|The Open Budget Survey 2008 finds that, overall, the state of budget transparency around the world is deplorable. In most of the countries surveyed the public does not have access to the comprehensive and timely information needed to participate meaningfully in the budget process and to hold government to account. This lack of transparency encourages inappropriate, wasteful, and corrupt spending andbecause it shuts the public out of decision makingreduces the legitimacy and impact of anti-poverty initiatives. Although the overall performance paints a bleak picture, there are a number of countries in the Survey that have significantly improved their budget transparency performance over the past two years. The Survey also finds that many more governments could quickly improve budget transparency at low cost by making publicly available the budget information that they already produce for donors or internal use. The Open Budget Survey provides government officials, legislators, development practitioners, civil society organizations, journalists, and researchers with an independent, comparative measure of government budget transparency in 85 countries around the world. The Survey report also suggests reforms that countries might adopt to improve budget transparency, increase public participation, and strengthen institutions of accountability. The International Budget Partnership (IBP) undertook this initiative because of the far-reaching implications of improving budget transparency. The provision of timely, useful, and accessible information is a first step toward greater accountability. It allows civil society, journalists, legislatures, and supreme audit institutions (SAIs) to take action to promote effective budget oversight. And greater public participation throughout the budget process can improve the credibility of policy choices and the effectiveness of government interventions.