Access and Use of ICT in Budget Transparency and Accountability in Local Governments

In the outbreak of COVID-19, the pursuit of improved e-government services for budget transparency and accountability became the norm in Uganda. The Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) of 2015, Section 12(2) mandates all stakeholders to promote and enforce transparent, efficient, and effective management of public expenditure. Also, the Access to Information Act of 2005, upholds the citizens’ right to information access, and more especially, the budget information to be made public. Likewise, the Local Government Act of 1997 requires the Chief Accounting Officers in Government entities to ensure accountability and transparency in the management and delivery of public services. The study specifically examined the levels of awareness, access and capacities of local Government administration (LGs) to use ICT tools and e-government services in the budgeting process in the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. The existing legal and policy frameworks clearly stipulate the roles and responsibilities of state and non-state actors in promoting budget transparency and accountability. At the national level, the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED), working closely with Chief Accounting Officers in all Government entities including Local Governments (LGs), is responsible for spearheading budget transparency and accountability. Overall, the PFMA and Information Act, give the Legislature the role of oversight and accountability over public expenditure, with support from the Auditor General. Since budgeting is a consultative decision-making process, LGs being at the forefront of service delivery, are obliged to engage with the public to identify issues and needs of the citizens to be incorporated in the national budget. Other non-state actors such as CSOs and the media equally play vital roles of creating inclusive, flexible and accessible environment for citizens to engage in the budgeting process. This research was motivated by the need to increase use of digital tools and platforms in the efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.