Budgeting for Accountability: A Comparative Study of Budget Reforms in the United States during the Progressive Era and in Contemporary China

Authors

  • Jun Ma,

    Corresponding author
    1. Sun Yat-sen University
      Jun Ma is a professor and dean in the School of Government at Sun Yat-sen University, China, where he also directs the Center for Public Administration Research. His research interests are public budgeting and finance, public administration, and financial management.
      E-mail:majun@mail.sysu.edu.cn
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  • Yilin Hou

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Georgia
      Yilin Hou is the Stanley W. Shelton Professor of Public Finance in the Department of Public Administration and Policy, School of Public and International Affairs, University of Georgia. His research interests are fiscal policy, budgetary institutions, and intergovernmental fiscal relations.
      E-mail:yihou@uga.edu
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Jun Ma is a professor and dean in the School of Government at Sun Yat-sen University, China, where he also directs the Center for Public Administration Research. His research interests are public budgeting and finance, public administration, and financial management.
E-mail:majun@mail.sysu.edu.cn

Yilin Hou is the Stanley W. Shelton Professor of Public Finance in the Department of Public Administration and Policy, School of Public and International Affairs, University of Georgia. His research interests are fiscal policy, budgetary institutions, and intergovernmental fiscal relations.
E-mail:yihou@uga.edu

Abstract

Budgeting is an important mechanism for ensuring public accountability. How do budget reforms in the United States during the Progressive Era compare to those in contemporary China? Are administrative and legislative budget controls essential to an effective, efficient government? Though the two countries differ in many respects, significant parallels between their budget reforms are evident. In the United States, electoral accountability alone does not guarantee overall government accountability if proper budgetary institutions are absent. China’s recent budget reform reveals that it is possible to develop accountability, absent open elections, but with limitations and constraints. Lessons on budgeting and accountability for other developing and transitional countries are drawn from this comparative study.

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