A Strategic Approach to Implementing PBB in the City of Riverside, CA

The City of Riverside, CA started implementing Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) in July 2020. They intentionally designed their implementation to last approximately six months.

The City is strategically implementing PBB to address the following challenges:

  • Identify all programs and services that the City provides;
  • Understand where the City is allocating its resources and how that aligns with the City’s strategic plan;
  • Take initial steps to realign resources to support City Council’s priorities
  • Enhance transparency on allocation of resources based on the who, what, where, and why;
  • Understand what we do, why we do it, and how much it costs;
  • Identify how to fiscally adjust as needed while minimizing the impact on the most critical programs and services;
  • Improve efficiencies in city operations; cross-departmental functions; elimination of duplicate programs and services; partnerships in program delivery;
  • Instill a culture that embraces the interconnectivity of strategic planning, organizational performance and resource alignment

Riverside is still working to institutionalize the use of PBB in their organization, and has made great strides with respect to how to use their insights to transform their financial position.  

Where Riverside has truly excelled is with their executive sponsorship and leadership out of the city manager's office. They have a great, diverse project management team with representatives from all over their organization, who have been effective at communicating the why, where they are going, and their specific and strategic goals.

The following is from the city's priority based budgeting page of their municipal website:

What is Priority-Based Budgeting (PBB)?


PBB takes a new, comprehensive approach to align the City’s budget to the City’s strategic plan (anticipated completion in October 2020). The City has partnered with ResourceX to implement PBB as the next step in our citywide strategic planning process. PBB aims to identify and determine the cost of all City programs and align our budget with the strategic priorities set by the City Council and answers:

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PBB starts with department users completing an inventory of all City programs, identifying associated revenue and costs, and determining how closely each program aligns with the Council’s priorities. This process will ultimately produce citywide insights about all programs offered and help the City make decisions about how to allocate resources, increase revenue, and enhance City programs.

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Why Priority Based Budgeting now?

As a follow-up to our strategic planning process, the next steps are to identify our programs and their associated revenue and costs, align the programs to the City Council’s strategic priorities, and create program insights to help us make decisions for the allocation of City resources during future budget cycles. Allocating resources in this manner is known as priority-based budgeting. By reviewing programs and City resources through the lens of the strategic plan, we can create a budget that directly supports the achievement of our strategic priorities.

What does the timeline look like?

Our goal is to wrap up the PBB process by December 2020 when the next year’s budget process will begin.

Related Articles:

Priority Based Budgeting Overview

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