Friday, May 18, 2012

ANNOUNCING The First-Ever Priority Based Budgeting Conference - San Diego CA, June 28-29 2012

Nothing like this has ever been done - an entire conference devoted entirely to Priority Based Budgeting for Government.

The Key Questions of the Day:
- how do you convince elected officials to embrace this process? 
You'll hear from Past President of the National League of Cities, and former mayor Kathie Novak speak on that issue.

- is the process sustainable for the long-term? What happens when a new Council or new City/County Manager is in place - do they embrace the process?
You'll hear from the City of Walnut Creek, California (who first embarked on this process in 2009) who faced these exact issues, and sustained (and innovated) their process.

- we need to put citizens in the driver's seat of the budget; how can we integrate substantial citizen engagement into the Priority Based Budgeting process?
We're lucky to have Pete Peterson from the Davenport Institute of Public Policy, one of the nation's foremost experts on "legitimate citizen engagement," speaking on the topic, as well as Julia Novak, CEO of the Novak Consulting Group, describing how it's actually being implemented in the City of Cincinnati, Ohio.

- this isn't "just about the budget," our organization has other strategic initiatives underway; how does this process fit in with everything else we're trying to do?
Hear the City of Post Falls, Idaho, the first City in the Country to embark on Priority Based Budgeting, integrating it with their High Performing Government (HPO) initiative.

PLUS: The Fi rst-ever Priority Based Budgeting Conference for government just wouldn’t be
complete without a little excitement, innovation, and some requisite suspense. That’s why
we’ve chosen this venue to unveil two of our greatest breakthrough inventions together with
you at the conference with our partners at Peak Democracy and Project A: online citizen engagement in the style of Peak's Open Town Hall, and the much-anticipated web-based Fiscal Health Diagnostic Model.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

More Insights from Vice Mayor Qualls - the Philosophy Behind Priority Based Budgeting

Priority Based Budget Philosophy

The Philosophy of Priority-Driven Budgeting
The underlying philosophy of priority-driven budgeting is about how a government entity should invest resources to meet its stated objectives. It helps us to better articulate why the services we offer exist, what price we pay for them, and, consequently, what value they offer citizens. The principles associated with this philosophy of priority-driven budgeting are:
• Prioritize Services. Priority-driven budgeting evaluates the relative importance of individual programs and services rather than entire departments. It is distinguished by prioritizing the services a government provides, one versus another.
• Do the Important Things Well. Cut Back on the Rest. In a time of revenue decline, a traditional budget process often attempts to continue funding all the same programs it funded last year, albeit at a reduced level (e.g. across-the-board budget cuts). Priority-driven budgeting identifies the services that offer the highest value and continues to provide funding for them, while reducing service levels, divesting, or potentially eliminating lower value services.
• Question Past Patterns of Spending. An incremental budget process doesn’t seriously question the spending decisions made in years past. Priority-driven budgeting puts all the money on the table to encourage more creative conversations about services.
• Spend Within the Organization’s Means. Priority-driven budgeting starts with the revenue available to the government, rather than last year’s expenditures, as the basis for decision making.
• Know the True Cost of Doing Business. Focusing on the full costs of programs ensures that funding decisions are based on the true cost of providing a service.
• Provide Transparency of Community Priorities. When budget decisions are based on a well-defined set of community priorities, the government’s aims are not left open to interpretation.
• Provide Transparency of Service Impact. In traditional budgets, it is often not entirely clear how funded services make a real difference in the lives of citizens. Under priority-driven budgeting, the focus is on the results the service produces for achieving community priorities.
• Demand Accountability for Results. Traditional budgets focus on accountability for staying within spending limits. Beyond this, priority-driven budgeting demands accountability for results that were the basis for a service’s budget allocation.

City of Cincinnati's Vice Mayor Qualls Provides Insight on Priority Based Budgeting

Priority Based Budget

A budget strategy for the new normal

Faced with large budget deficits in the last two years that could have triggered massive layoffs and service cuts, Cincinnati City Council has been forced to rely on one-time sources to balance the budget and protect pools, health clinics and the school nurse program. Employee health care costs and pension fund payments continue to consume huge portions of the general fund. For a closer look at city budget drivers.

Priority-driven budgeting offers a common-sense, strategic alternative to conventional budgeting. It creates a fundamental change in the way resources are allocated by using a collaborative, evidence-based approach to measure services against community priorities. By bringing together community leaders and citizens to determine strategic priorities, the city can align resources with what the community values most, and create service efficiencies and innovation.

Council approved the administration's recommendation to hire the Center for Priority Based Budgeting (Center for PBB) to help with the intensive citizen engagement that drives the new approach. Instead of using the traditional department-based approach, priority-based budgeting focuses on developing the budget around citizen-driven priorities.

City of Billings Brings Priority Based Budgeting into Budget Process

The City Council will hear a presentation on June 4 from the Center for Priority Based Budgeting on work that has been going on behind the scenes with city departments, Volek said.

“This is probably the most significant document that the City Council works on in a given year,” Volek said at the outset of her presentation. “It is an indication of your intent to provide services, an indication of your intent for staffing and an indication of an intent to the public of what the city of Billings will look like for the coming budget year.”

Each department has broken down its operation into a series of programs, attached the cost and staffing level for those programs and ranked them by priority, Volek said. All the work will be cross-checked by other departments that will review the rankings and check their accuracy.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cincinnati Budget and Finance Committee Endorses Citizen's Results - PBB Process Advances

What Is Priority-Driven Budgeting?

Priority-driven budgeting puts you at the center of the budget decision-making process.
Through priority-driven budgeting, you tell government about what kind of community you want. Then, government programs are scored against your priorities to better match spending with your wants and needs.

Your Strategic Priorities

Based on the information gleaned during the public engagement portion of this process, seven strategic priorities have been identified for the City of Cincinnati. These are the critical areas the community indicated they rely on City Government to provide.