JOHN K. JOHNSON AND F. RICK STAPENHURST
Legislatures play a wide variety of roles in the budget process (Santiso 2005). While legislatures all over the world play at least a formal role in overseeing implementation of the budget they enact, their impact on the formulation of that budget varies dramatically in different systems. Some are very actively involved; others are not involved at all. Moreover, the role that the legislature plays in the budget process in many countries has changed over time and is expected to continue to change in the future (Schick 2002). These changing roles call into question the sources of information that are or may be made available to help the legislature participate in the budget process. Legislatures require reliable, unbiased information to be able to participate in a constructive manner in formulating the budget, as well as in overseeing its implementation.
This chapter discusses the value of a nonpartisan, independent, objective analytic unit to the legislative role in both enacting and overseeing implementation of the budget. It describes legislative budget offices in four regions, showing how such offices can contribute to the budget process and suggesting reasons for the growing (albeit still small) number of such units.1
The chapter does not address how significant a role legislatures should play in amending proposed executive budgets. Some have