Tuesday, November 27, 2012

City of Cincinnati Releases Most Comprehensive and Transparent Documentation of Priority Based Budgeting's Impact on City Programs

The City of Cincinnati, Ohio has released their 2013 Recommended Budget, addressing a $34 million deficit through cuts and cost shifting, savings, new revenues, embedded growth, and one-time sources.

The City’s use of Priority Based Budgeting (through their Priority Driven Budgeting initiative) establishes one of the greatest advancements in the use of the process to guide policy direction. The City’s response to Council’s policy direction provides one of the most comprehensive evaluations of city services across the entire organization.

Many organizations have approached us with a strong desire to bring their elected officials into a constructive and transparent discussion about the budget – Cincinnati has set the bar high in this respect. In the most direct way possible, the City used Priority Based Budgeting to guide policy-oriented discussions.  One of the benefits of the process is that it creates specific roles for elected officials to participate and succeed. When elected officials can focus on key policy questions that impact resource allocation, when they’re provided input and transparency in the way their policy questions are answered, and when they can make decisions based on policy impacts, then they’ve played a successful role in budgeting.

The following comes from the City’s 2013 Recommended Budget:

Council Policy Direction 
(Click here to see the detailed policy direction from City Council, as well as staff’s response, using Priority Driven Budgeting)

In June, the City Council received the results of the Priority-Driven Budgeting initiative and provided this budget policy motion with direction for formulating the 2013/2014 Operating Budget: “That the Administration construct a budget based on the following factors:

Use the information from the Priority-Driven Budget process to:
  • Recommend elimination or reduction of functions based upon whether other organizations or entities are serving the same populations or providing the same function. If this is the case, the administration should outline a method of transitioning individuals to the other services or programs.
  • Recommend changes to mandated programs that exceed the minimum requirements of the mandate.
  • Identify functions that can be shared with other political jurisdictions.
  • Identify functions that, rather than eliminate them, can be made self sufficient through the establishment of a fee structure.”

The Diagnostic Tool provided data to start discussions about the programs and services we provide to help the City analyze programs and services for cost savings, revenue enhancements and budget reductions. All of the analysis conducted allowed the City to more strategically allocate resources, and provide citizens more transparency, as well as a clearer understanding of the budget decision as we move forward.

While it is the first year Cincinnati has engaged in priority-driven budgeting to this extent, it provides a foundation for examining the services and programs the City provides that are important to the people the City serves.

Click here to see a detailed program listing – the budget status of every City Program in PBB terms: the status of each program in terms of which are increased, decreased, receive no funding change, become reorganized, or are under review.

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