Thursday, September 27, 2012

Douglas County Readies for Year 2 in PBB; Welcomes Citizen Engagement

Douglas County, Nevada - PBB Update:

 A new and long-term organizational change in the budgeting process to assist in understanding, and evaluating County programs and services
 A tool to find opportunities to discuss shifting resources based on priorities
 A tool to identify programs with additional cost recovery opportunities
 A tool to identify programs with possible alternative service providers/regional collaboration
 A tool to assist the Board in appropriating available resources in the Budget

PBB Is Not:
 A recipe for budget cuts
 A tool to tell elected officials how to allocate their funding amongst the programs and services they provide

Priority Based Budgeting
 A new “lens” that provides communities, elected officials, and departments with powerful insights into their programs
 Programs are prioritized based on their relevance to achieving the community’s desired results
 Program costs are calculated including all resources utilized across the organization,%202012%20Priority%20Based%20Budgeting%20Workshop%20Supporting%20Materials.pdf

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

City of Cincinnati Takes Priority Based Budgeting Conversation Back to Citizens

The City's Office of Budget & Evaluation is using data gathered from the Priority-Driven Budgeting initiative to analyze programs and services for cost savings, revenue enhancements and budget reductions.

Departments are identifying programs and services which can be divested, provided with other departments or outside partners, provided at lower levels of service and cost, and/or be provided with increased revenues or fees.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

City of Boulder's PBB Breakthroughs - a Multi-Year Perspective

The City of Boulder continues it's ideal application of Priority Based Budgeting, evolving the process into their third year.

What Boulder has done is remarkable in many way, but we wanted to highlight two significant outcomes:
1.) Applying PBB to "new programs" - Boulder was the first to apply PBB to the consideration of programs that didn't exist before; running them through the PBB model to see what Quartile they might be in, if they were initiated. It's a tremendous application. And as demonstrated in this year's budget, new investment, new resources are allocated to high priority programs planning the City's "energy future." Where did they get the money to start these new programs - "nearly 10% reductions were applied to low-quartile, low-relevance investment areas. "
2.) The long-term view of PBB - Boulder has also compiled a multi-year perspective on their application of PBB, to demonstrate how they've reduced and divested themselves of lower priority programs over the years, and reinvested in new or expanded higher priority programs - it's outstanding!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

PBB Breakthrough: Telling Your Story – How Walnut Creek Communicates to Citizens, Transforming their Budget to a Narrative

The City of Walnut Creek, California is among the earliest-adopters of Priority Based Budgeting, having first implemented the process in 2009. As Priority Based Budgeting Week continues, we wanted to share with you one of the most significant breakthroughs to date in the work – highlighting what the City has done on their own to transform the way they communicate about the budget with their citizens.

So many of us are working so hard to make headway in “authentic citizen engagement.” It’s not easy! One of our fundamental objectives in creating the “unique lens” of Priority Based Budgeting was and continues to be offering a way to “see” the budget in a way that is so easy, so clear, any citizen, any elected official, any staff member, anybody could understand immediately how decisions are made. Not only that, but we want to make it so clear what decisions and what options are open to us; to provide clarity where it’s sometimes uncertain – that was much of the focus of this September’s PM Magazine article.

This advancement from Walnut Creek offers such hope and excitement about what’s possible. The City is pioneering in so many ways, not just Priority Based Budgeting, and we encourage you to reach out to them (contact Assistant City Manager / Administrative Services Director, Lorie Tinfow at

With the “2012-2014 Budget Story,” we are so pleased to introduce you yet another innovation from Walnut Creek!

“A Community Connected: The 2012-14 Budget Story,” seeks to share our budget information in a new way. It identifies what we plan to do over the next two years with the resources placed under our stewardship. It explains the processes we’ve put in place with the community to set the goals that guided our budget decisions. And it tells our story in a way that we hope will be more engaging and easy to follow, using graphics, photos and short stories.”
 - City Manager, Ken Nordhoff, from Page 1: The 2012-2014 Budget Story

After "Internal" Implementation of PBB, Billings Opens Process to Citizen Influence

The Billings City Council really wants to know what its constituents think.

Next week, the council and city staff members will hold three public meetings around town to discuss the Citizen Survey results and to get feedback on two major issues: the city budget and public safety.

The city is planning to implement a process called “priority-based budgeting.” City Administrator Tina Volek will be at the Community Conversations to explain how this process is supposed to work. The city needs to rethink its budget because costs have been growing faster than revenues even as the city has grown.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Center for Management Strategies: Priority Based Budgeting Library of Resources

As ICMA's Center for Management Strategies Director, Cheryl Hilvert, mentioned in her blog post last week, the "official launch" of the new Center is taking place at the conference in Phoenix. To help kick-off the "official launch," these next two weeks will feature a host of in-depth blog posts on the first two leading practices: Fiscal Health and Wellness through Priority Based Budgeting, and the High Performing Organization (HPO) model.

This week being Priority Based Budgeting week, we wanted to start it off by assembling the published works on Fiscal Health and Priority Based Budgeting, all in one place. Each published article and white paper is yours by clicking on the links below. Our objective is to add to this library, which we will do this week even, posting articles and stories from the front-lines of communities who have implemented this work (stay tuned this week for two posts about the incredible achievements in Walnut Creek, California and Boulder, Colorado).
We also wanted to devote Priority Based Budgeting week to generating the kinds of questions from you all that we would typically generate during our webinars or conference sessions, and dedicate time to answering you. Look for your opportunity to contribute to an ongoing Q&A session on Priority Based Budgeting this week, and take advantage of the chance to pose your questions. We're so much looking forward to hearing what you have to say!
CPBB Publications on Priority Based Budgeting
September 2012Seeing Things Differently: Through the Lens of Priority-Based Budgeting, Communities Gain Powerful Insights into Their Programs, authored by Jon Johnson and Chris Fabian, published by International City / County Manager's Association's (ICMA) professional journal, Public Management "PM" Magazine
Description: Priority Based Budgeting has been declared a Leading Practice for Government Management by ICMA. Three years after it's invention, the process has been implemented in over 30 communities across the Country, from cities as large as Sacramento CA, and Cincinnati OH to communities as politically complex and diverse as Boulder CO and Monterey CA, to organizations as small as Post Falls ID, Chrisitansburg VA and Blue Ash OH. The "unique lens" of Priority Based Budgeting is leading organizations to surprising breakthroughs and insights, focusing on questions such as: What is the local government uniquely qualified to provide, for the maximum benefit to citizens for the tax dollars they pay? What is the community truly mandated to provide? What does it cost to fulfill those mandates? What are the appropriate programs to consider establishing or increasing user-fees? What are the appropriate programs to consider partnerships with other community service providers? What services might the local government reach consensus about “getting out of the business” of providing? Where are there apparent overlaps and redundancies in a community where several entities are providing similar services? Where is the local government potentially competing against businesses in its own community?
March 2011White Paper: Anatomy of a Priority Driven Budget Process, authored by Chris Fabian, Jon Johnson and GFOA's Shayne Kavanagh, published by the Government Finance Officer's Association (GFOA) as a White Paper
Description: This White Paper, published by GFOA, is the first paper documenting some of the key ingredients of a Priority Based Budget initiative. While most governments today agree on the need to prioritize services and resource allocation, the key issue remains: how do you do that? This is a paper about the Center for Priority Based Budgeting's methodologies and process which are pioneering in the field of priority based budgeting, as well as some of CPBB's most successful stories from the work, namely: San Jose, Lakeland, Walnut Creek, Blue Ash, Grand Island, Chesapeake, Boulder and Fairfield. To quote Chesapeake's City manager in 2010, William Harrell: "It sounds intuitive but what we found was there was no real methodology to connect all of the things that government does" to what policymakers want to see for their cities. (Virginia Pilot, regional newspaper, Chesapeake, Virginia)
May 2010Anatomy of a Priority Based Budget, authored by Jon Johnson, Chris Fabian and GFOA's Shayne Kavanagh, published by the Government Finance Officer's Association's (GFOA) professional journal, Government Finance Review (GFR)
Description: Priority Driven Budgeting is about how a government should invest resources in order to meet its stated objectives. Prioritization helps us to better articulate why the programs we offer exist, what value they offer to citizens, how they benefit the community, what price we pay for them, and what objectives and citizen demands they are achieving. Priority Driven Budgeting is about directing resources to those programs that create the greatest value for the public." CPBB has contributed to GFOA's research since 2008 when Johnson and Fabian's Priority-based Budgeting session drew over 800 at GFOA's Annual Conference in Florida. On the front-lines of the "New Normal" throughout these last few years, CPBB's experiences formed the basis for GFOA's objective research about how local governments are not only surviving, but creating great transformations in their organizations and their communities. These are some of the stories and lessons learned from 2008-2010 - the success stories of Walnut Creek and San Jose, California, and the City of Lakeland, Florida.
June 2008Prioritization: The New Reality of Budgeting, authored by Chris Fabian, Scott Collins and Jon Johnson, published by International City / County Manager's Association's (ICMA) professional journal, Public Management "PM" Magazine
Description: Unveiling the invention of Priority Based Budgeting, the authors note: "the biggest challenge we face in government is not the ever-changing fiscal conditions. Instead, the issue most often is a crisis of strategy. Recognizing this, we believe that implementing prioritization is an effective way to combat crises. All organizations, especially those that are stewards of public resources, establish values and objectives to meet the expectations of those for whom they exist to serve. Resources contributed by the community or other constituencies are dedicated to achieve those established objectives, regardless of the current fiscal condition. As we evaluate the inventories of all programs and services offered, we would find it implausible to believe that each achieves those objectives to an equal extent. Prioritization offers an objective process that allows those responsible for resource allocation decisions to ensure that those programs of higher value to citizens, those programs that achieve the organization’s objectives most visibly and effectively, can be sustained through adequate funding levels regardless of the fiscal crisis du jour. Whether there are more resources to distribute or fewer to allocate, prioritization guides that allocation toward those programs most highly valued by the organization and, most important, by the citizens who depend on those programs for their well-being, their comfort, and their expected quality of life."
CPBB Publications on Fiscal Health
October 2009, It’s All in the Questions – The Manager's Role in Achieving Fiscal Health (Part 2), authored by Jon Johnson and Chris Fabian, published by International City / County Manager's Association's (ICMA) professional journal, Public Management "PM" Magazine
Description: When elected officials start asking if it's time to cut services, cut staff, or raise taxes, are you confident you have the facts and analyses to offer a thoughtful recommendation? Be prepared with an approach that uses a series of basic but critical diagnostic questions that center around five measures of fiscal health. In October 2009, PM Magazine published Part 2 in the "It's All in the Questions" series which highlighted the public manager's role in assessing the organization's Fiscal Health. With special emphasis on the effectiveness of Internal Service Funds and the success of scenario planning models such as the Fiscal Health Diagnostic Tool, this article helps put in place the final foundation of financial stability needed so that an organization can look to Priority Based Budgeting with a sound footing.
September 2009It’s All in the Questions – The Manager's Role in Achieving Fiscal Health (Part 1), authored by Jon Johnson and Chris Fabian, published by International City / County Manager's Association's (ICMA) professional journal, Public Management "PM" Magazine
Description: "It's All in the Questions - the Manager's Role in Achieving Fiscal Health" is the latest Cover Story for Pubic Management Magazine, and includes Part 1 of a 2 part series, with Part 1 focusing on the critical identification and differentiation between reliable, predicatable, ongoing revenues and those of a one-time nature; establishing and demonstrating reserves; and understanding and addressing variances.
For any further questions, interest or ideas on Priority Based Budgeting, contact Cheryl Hilvert at