||Whether you are an expectant mother in Mexico who needs access to prenatal care, a farmer in Malawi worried that fertilizer subsidies will be slashed as part of a foreign aid deal, or a Cambodian civil society organization that wants to ensure that the substantial new funds from oil extraction will be used to help those most in need government budgets matter to you. So you want to know, and indeed have the right to know, what is in your countrys budget. And there should be mechanisms for public participation and accountability to keep budget decisions on track. International institutions, many individual governments, and independent experts all agree that for public budgets to be managed efficiently, and in accord with a countrys needs, comprehensive budget information needs to be widely available, meaningful opportunities for civil society and citizens to actively participate in budget decision making and oversight need to be provided, and strong independent oversight from the legislature and auditors needs to exist. The consensus around the importance of open budgets is stronger than ever before. Yet the Open Budget Survey 2012 finds that the state of budget transparency and accountability is generally dismal. Only a minority of governments publish significant budget information. Fewer still provide appropriate mechanisms for public participation, and independent oversight institutions frequently lack appropriate resources and leverage. A large number of countries have made no changes, or made only a few changes, to their budget systems in recent years and continue to provide insufficient information. Some countries are even headed in the wrong direction; their systems have become more closed. There has been progress, however. Average budget transparency scores have risen in nearly all parts of the world. Progress has been especially steady and significant among those countries where the least budget information had been provided. Some countries have seen dramatic improvements, brought about by a combination of government commitment and domestic and external incentives and pressure. Indeed, the 2012 Survey evidence suggests that any country, irrespective of geographical location or income level, can perform well on budget transparency. The importance of a governments political will to achieve better budget transparency cannot be overstated.