Revisiting the Challenges to Reveal the Promise of Program Budgeting

Program budget development is the critical piece that has been years in the making...

So much has changed in local government budgeting since Shayne Kavanagh (GFOA) and Chris Fabian (ResourceX) wrote their 2015 ground-breaking essay "The Challenges and Promise of Program Budgeting."

Since then:

  • GFOA's Distinguished Budget Award now requires program data for consideration
  • ResourceX just released the first comprehensive program budgeting software solution
  • Local governments are being challenged  to explore budgeting advancements through GFOA, ICMA, and NLC's Rethinking Budgeting Initiative

"ResourceX is contributing actively to GFOA's Rethinking Budgeting efforts. Central to "rethinking" is the shift from the line item decision-making unit to a program decision-making unit within the budget process. That is the key, simple, practical, and breakthrough step that we need to ensure resources are strategically aligned with results and outcomes for the benefit of residents and the community. That's how we move the needle to address society's biggest challenges."

There are many reasons to consider adopting program budgeting, but perhaps the most important is its ability to create a more transparent budget and budget development process. A program budget shows precisely what the government does and how much it costs. A program budget is meaningful to the governing board and the public because programs are directly relevant to how they experience public services. A program budget is organized into service areas rather than just departments, objects of expenditure, and line items. 

For all the logic behind program budgeting, for too long, the problem was that our systems and tools were behind. The desire to develop a program budget existed, and the understanding that programs were the way forward had been established. Still, we've been held back by the limitations in how we can use our chart of accounts or general ledger. It was high time that program budget development functionality was created. 

Through this webinar, Shayne and Chris will explore the purpose and potential of making the shift to a program decision-making unit, the benefits to your departments, leaders, and residents, and the advancements in resources available to your organizations since 2015. 

chris fabian bricks
shayne

Chris Fabian

ResourceX, CEO & Co-founder

Chris has been invested in solving the problems associated with resource scarcity in local government for over a decade. Through ResourceX, his team provides the software solution for Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) using data and evidence to transparently and exponentially improve results for citizens and the community. PBB is now practiced and applied by over 250 organizations across North America.

ResourceX believes in the purpose of government and its potential to lead the charge in tackling some of the world’s most significant challenges. Empowering the budget increases local government's ability to tackle massive societal challenges, from climate change and homelessness to equity and sustainability, through program identification and resource reallocation. As a thought leader and budget software innovator, we can support local governments in the vital work they do.

Shayne Kavanagh

GFOA, Senior Manager, Research

Shayne is the Senior Manager of Research for GFOA and has been a leader in developing the practice and technique of long-term financial planning and policies for local government. He started GFOA's long-term financial planning and policy consulting offering in 2002 and has been working with governments on financial planning and policies ever since. Shayne has worked with many governments of different sizes and types on financial planning and policies across the United States and Canada. 

Most recently, Shayne has contributed to the Rethinking Budgeting Initiative, a collaborative effort between GFOA, ICMA and NLC. This initiative will raise new and interesting ideas for how local government budget systems can be adapted to today’s needs. The hope is that the ideas presented will spur conversation about the possibilities for rethinking budgeting.

GFOA Distinguished BudgetProgram Data Just Got More Distinguished...

Learn more about updated GFOA Distinguished Budget Award Eligibility Criteria

GFOA is proud to announce updates to the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award program for budgets beginning on or after 1/1/2021. For more information about program changes or to view updated forms, click here.

Some important changes include:

  • Clearly presented departmental program descriptions
    • A narrative description of the assigned services, functions, programs and activities of organizational units should be included. Major priorities within each organizational unit should also be addressed.
  • Clear linkage between identified programs and goals and objectives
    • This criterion requires that departmental/program goals and objectives be described. The relationship of departmental/program goals to the strategic goals of the entity should be apparent.
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