International and UK experts will undertake an independent review of the Office for Budget Responsibility this summer, assessing its performance and adherence to internationally agreed principles of best practice for independent fiscal institutions.

Under the legislation that created the OBR, the organisation is required to commission an external review every five years. The OBR’s non-executive members, Sir Chris Kelly and Bronwyn Curtis OBE, have asked the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to lead the review and to report later this year.

In addition to OECD staff, the review team will include three outside experts:

  • Peter Fontaine, professorial lecturer in public policy and public administration at George Washington University. Mr Fontaine spent 30 years at the US Congressional Budget Office, ultimately as head of its budget analysis division.
  • Michal Horvath, Permanent Secretary of the EU Independent Fiscal Institutions Network and lecturer in economics at the University of York. Mr Horvath is a former member of the Council for Budget Responsibility in Slovakia.
  • Gemma Tetlow, Chief Economist at the Institute for Government. Ms Tetlow formerly served as Economics Correspondent of the Financial Times and as a programme director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

In its examination of the OBR, the review team will assess our analytical capacity, independence, accountability and visibility with reference to the OECD Principles for Independent Fiscal Institutions agreed in 2014. It will use an evaluation framework developed by the OECD Network of Parliamentary Budget Officials and Independent Fiscal Institutions.

This framework was pioneered in the First external review of the OBR, which was led by Kevin Page – the former Canadian Parliamentary Budget Officer – and published in September 2014. This concluded that the OBR had “laudably achieved the core duties of its mandate” and “succeeded in reducing perceptions of bias in fiscal and economic forecasting”. It made a number of recommendations, which the UK Government then drew upon in its own Review of the OBR led by Sir Dave Ramsden, then Chief Economic Adviser to HM Treasury. This resulted in an expansion of the OBR’s statutory responsibilities and an increase in our resources.