Making sense of government budgets: An internal transparency perspective

Irvine Maclaren Lapsley, Ana-Maria Rios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

– The purpose of this paper is an investigation of internal transparency in government budgeting.

– A case study which uses mixed methods – documentary analysis, some observation and elite interviews.

– Politicians do not want transparency. Despite the way in which the idea of transparency in government is beyond open challenge, this study reveals the manner in which politicians can inhibit and limit transparency through political will and action.

Research limitations/implications
– These findings raise serious challenges for policymakers who design government budgeting systems. They should raise concerns among other interested parties, including the media, the electorate and oversight bodies.

Practical implications
– Are government budgets rigorously scrutinised? This evidence suggests not. This has major implications for accountants in government and for those who seek to use this information.

Social implications
– This research needs to be extended beyond the case of a government body – the Scottish Parliament – which was designed for and committed to transparency in its activities. For those public service organisations which have no such commitment, is public accountability achievable?

– This study uses a novel lens of three levels of transparency as devised by Biondi and Lapsley (2014). It focuses on an emergent field of internal transparency in government budgeting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-394
JournalQualitative Research in Accounting & Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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