Designing for Fiscal Accountability: IBP’s Open Budget Survey 2017

Leveraging visual design to make complex budget information accessible and actionable across languages and cultures in 115 countries.

About IBP’s Open Budget Survey

The International Budget Partnership (IBP) is a global nonprofit organization that collaborates with civil society partners in over 120 countries to promote public budget systems that work for all people. IBP generates data, advocates for reform, and builds the skills and knowledge of people to meaningfully engage in budget decisions that impact their lives. IBP created the Open Budget Survey to tackle the widespread issue of limited budget transparency across the globe, which hampers public accountability and inhibits citizens’ participation in government budgeting processes.

Project Overview

I had the pleasure of collaborating with IBP on their Open Budget Survey 2017 report, marking my fifth time designing for this series, following the successful completion of the 2008, 2012, and 2015 reports.

This comprehensive 6-month project encompassed the design, development, and project management of a 4-color, 72-page report available in both printed and digital formats. Additionally, I created a Global status map, Key index chart, and 4-page summaries for each of the 115 countries ranked in the survey. To ensure global accessibility, all materials were recreated and published in 5 languages: Arabic, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.


The primary challenges of this project were threefold:

First, to design a visually compelling report that effectively communicated complex budget information across languages and cultures while supporting IBP’s goal of improving budget transparency.

Second, to manage stakeholder expectations and educate them about great design principles, ensuring their buy-in and satisfaction with the final product.

Third, to efficiently manage over 10,000 assets across multiple rounds of review and approval, which required implementing a meticulously organized file naming system and a clear, concise structure that enabled seamless collaboration among global team members.


After carefully reviewing the project scope, I developed a comprehensive strategy to address the challenges:

I designed a clean and structured layout featuring a clear, grid-based system that organized content into easily digestible sections. This approach facilitated easy navigation and understanding of the report, regardless of the reader’s language or cultural background.

To convey the status of budget transparency across countries without relying solely on text, I employed an intuitive color palette that allowed readers to quickly grasp the information. This color scheme bridged language barriers and made the report more accessible to a global audience.

I created engaging and informative data visualizations, including charts, graphs, and maps, that translated complex budget data into visually appealing and easily understandable formats. Clear labels, legends, and concise titles ensured accurate interpretation of the data, irrespective of language or cultural context.

Throughout the report, I maintained a consistent visual hierarchy, using larger fonts, bold text, and strategic placement to highlight key takeaways. This hierarchy enabled readers to efficiently navigate the content, regardless of their language or background.

To ensure inclusivity and accessibility, I adhered to accessibility guidelines by using high-contrast text, clear typefaces, and ample line spacing. This approach made the content easily readable for people with varying visual abilities, promoting inclusivity across different cultures and languages.

I incorporated culturally neutral visual elements, such as icons and illustrations, that were simple and clear. By avoiding culturally specific imagery or symbols, I ensured that the visual elements were universally understood and did not create confusion or misinterpretation across different cultural contexts.

Finally, I maintained a consistent and cohesive use of IBP’s brand colors, logo, and typographic style throughout the report. This cohesive branding reinforced the organization’s commitment to transparency and its authority in the field of budget transparency.

[LOGO] International Budget Partnership



4-page Country Summaries


Language Translations

Project Assets

The Results

The Open Budget Survey 2017 report played a crucial role in promoting fiscal transparency, public participation, and oversight in budget processes worldwide. By evaluating and ranking countries based on the availability and comprehensiveness of their budget documents, the report encouraged governments to adopt more transparent budget practices, enhancing accountability and fostering an informed and engaged public. The visually compelling design, coupled with easy-to-understand data visualizations, made complex budget information accessible to diverse audiences, empowering citizens to engage in crucial budget decisions that impact their lives.
I had the extreme pleasure to work with Michael Kristof on a range of print and digital resources for five global releases of an international research product. Each of these releases involved managing the design and production of two to five separate resources, which required ...
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Delaine McCullough
Head of Communications, International Budget Partnership
I had the extreme pleasure to work with Michael Kristof on a range of print and digital resources for five global releases of an international research product. Each of these releases involved managing the design and production of two to five separate resources, which required inputs from researchers and communicators and several rounds of revisions--all under extremely tight deadlines. Having Michael guide us through the design and production process made all the difference. The quality of his designs were superior, and he was able to translate our voice and goals into very effective designs that not only communicated complex data but also a strong and hopeful message of change. In terms of day-to-day execution of the process, Michael is patient, helpful in navigating problems, incredibly reliable, and always willing to go the extra mile to get to a high-quality product. I worked with Michael over a decade, and I could always count on him coming to our projects with fresh ideas and insights into the latest trends in design and digital marketing. Over the years, Michael has also worked with us on smaller projects, which never translated into less attentive service. Whatever your project, I wholeheartedly recommend Michael Kristof.
Delaine McCullough
Delaine McCullough
Head of Communications, International Budget Partnership


  • Non-Profit

Project Type


  • Art Director
  • Creative Director
  • Project Manager


  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word