Wednesday, July 27, 2016

An Analysis of Survey Data from Municipalities who have Implemented Priority Based Budgeting

PBB & Strategic Planning

An analysis of survey data from municipalities who have implemented priority based budgeting
For the 5th year in a row, Priority Based Budgeting has been the subject of a Master's degree or PHD thesis defense. CPBB's annual Conference has provided a platform to showcase the academic experts and researchers, as it is our belief that unbiased academic research is part of the key to the Priority Based Budgeting movement - the more research, the more we all learn, and the more the PBB Community is able to evolve to achieve the overall mission of fundamentally reshaping resource allocation in our communities.

Liz Butterfield continues this tradition with her Master's Capstone exploration of the influence that PBB has had on strategic planning in local government. Her paper provides key insights that suggest Priority Based Budgeting is encouraging communities to understand long-term strategic planning in new ways. With the tools of PBB, leaders and decision makers are better able to understand how their resources are being marshaled to achieve their policy objectives - thereby reinforcing the importance of strategic goal setting, as policy makers have a clearer path to achieve their stated Results.

We at the Center for Priority Based Budgeting are especially intrigued with Liz's capstone research findings, and will provide Liz the stage at the CPBB Conference next week to share the implications of her work. Congratulations Liz! Great work advancing our communities!
This capstone was completed during summer 2016 for the Center for Priority Based Budgeting in partnership with the Alliance for Innovation. The capstone fulfills the requirements for completion of MPA coursework for the University of Colorado - Denver School of Public Affairs.
The analysis attempts to look at a relationship between two variables, priority-based budgeting and strategic planning in local governments. The research attempted to identify links between priority-based budgeting and strategic planning through an analysis of the presence and use of strategic plans, their impact on workflows, and an evaluation of the perceived value of connecting strategic planning to the budgeting process.

CPBB Clients & Respondents

*Note: International locations not included in this map of survey respondents**Note: Clients who were not members of municipalities (e.x. airports, school districts, others) were excluded from the survey
The Center for Priority Based Budgeting works with clients across the United States and Canada. For the purposes of this report, only municipalities who have implemented priority-based budgeting (PBB) were used in the analysis. These clients were asked to respond to a survey on their experiences.


All survey participants indicated they used at least three elements of strategic planning at least “occasionally” (does this activity less than once per year), using the survey question key to indicate what elements of strategic planning were used and how frequently. Because each of the participants responded they used some elements of strategic planning, the key to this research is to what extent the priority-based budgeting process changed their strategic planning since implementation.  

Respondent counts: Strategic plan elements


Never: never does this activity
Occasionally: does this activity less than once a year
Frequently: does this activity once or twice a year
Consistently: does this activity every quarter or more frequently

Frequency of use: Strategic plan elements by type

The graph below depicts the frequency of use by type of strategic plan element the respondents reported. Click on each element to display the frequency chart. 

While most organizations who have implemented priority-based budgeting use strategic planning elements, the data indicates majority do not use a combination of elements “consistently,” i.e. every quarter or more frequently.  

Respondent counts: Stakeholders involved in strategic planning

The graph below depicts the number of respondents who selected stakeholders involved in strategic planning processes. About 97% of respondents indicated members of the executive management team or directors were involved in the strategic planning process, with about 94% indicating Councilors were involved.
302520151050ResidentsCouncilExecutiveManagement TeamDirectorsBudget DepartmentOther StaffOther Stakeholders1531323227169

Influence of PBB: Perceptions of connection and change

The second grouping of major results is found in a series of questions regarding the relationship between strategic planning and the change resulting from implementing priority-based budgeting. Click on each element below to display frequencies in perception of these relationships.
About 37% of respondents noted that implementing priority-based budgeting had a moderate change in their strategic planning process. Additionally, 37% of respondents reported there was a large connection between their strategic planning process and budgeting. 


Link from PBB to Strategic Planning

This analysis does not attempt to indicate that adding priority-based budgeting caused a change in strategic planning, but it attempts to identify perceptions of change in strategic planning processes. About 85% of respondents indicated they strongly agreed that strategic planning and budgeting should be closely aligned. Additionally, these analyses indicate that the majority of those who perceived a moderate or large amount of change in their strategic planning process after implementing priority-based budgeting also believed there to be a strong link between budgeting and strategic planning.

CPBB provided tools for strategic planning?

About 75% of respondents indicated the CPBB provided them with tools for strategic planning. 

Is it beneficial for PBB to provide structured strategic planning tools?

In addition to 75% of respondents indicating the CPBB provided them with tools for strategic planning, about 69% of respondents overall indicated providing structured strategic planning tools would be either very beneficial or extremely beneficial to them.

Analysis & Recommendations

The result that about 85% of municipalities strongly agree that strategic planning and budgeting should be closely linked does not seem too surprising when looking to the crosstabs analysis of the link between workflow based off strategic planning and the level of change perceived in workflow after implementing priority-based budgeting, where 66.7% of respondents saw moderate changes in both. This research also indicates there are questions not answered by this study that remain open to further research. For example, to what extent have processes changed based off the tools provided by the Center for Priority Based Budgeting (CPBB)? How has priority-based budgeting impacted the strategic planning more specifically? Although the CPBB does not explicitly provide tools to aide strategic planning, according to about 75% of respondents the Center provided them with some tools to help with strategic planning.

This is interesting, since strategic planning is not the explicit intent of the CPBB, but appears to be a side effect of their program. Because of the very high rate of respondents who strongly agreed that budgeting and strategic planning should be connected, it might be of use for the CPBB to provide more structured elements of strategic planning to their program.

There are other relationships between the priority-based budgeting products and its impact on municipal work that deserve more study as well. Looking to how priority-based budgeting has impacted more than just the budgeting process, such as changes in work processes or use of more strategic planning elements, might also be important for the CPBB to identify what additional products or strategies to use in the future. The Center may be able to find ways to more closely link strategic planning and the budgeting process, or help municipalities include a variety of stakeholders through both the strategic planning process and budgeting initiatives so they better complement one another. 

Respondent counts: "Strategic planning and budgeting should be closely aligned"

2520151050Strongly disagreeSlightly disagreeNeither agree nor disagreeSlightly agreeStrongly agree100428

It would also be of use for the Center for Priority Based Budgeting to begin a deeper analysis as to where the municipalities are within the strategic planning process before implementing priority-based budgeting. As one respondent stated in their survey, “The organization had no (strategic) planning process. PBB created a (structure) for it, but there has been little to no follow through.” As indicated above, municipalities engage in a range of strategic planning elements to build strategic planning efforts. It may be of use for the CPBB to identify what the strategic planning process exists already before beginning the priority-based budgeting process; this may enable clients to better link strategic planning and budgeting ahead of implementing the new budgeting program.


Providing additional tools to help with strategic planning could include structured workshops, an analysis of where the organization is with current strategic planning efforts and an outline of how to use priority-based budgeting alongside strategic planning as the new program is implemented. This way, each organization that works with priority-based budgeting can have the opportunity to improve their strategic planning efforts alongside priority-based budgeting and align the two early on.
For more information on this study or questions regarding results, please contact the researcher, Liz Butterfield, at Thank you!

Monday, July 25, 2016

National Research Center Exclusive Interview with CPBB Co-Founder Chris Fabian for the 2016 (Un)Conference

"Right now we’re seeing governments truly understand how to take their most precious resources, staff, and reallocate them towards the new programs that really accomplish what their communities desire." - CPBB Co-founder Chris Fabian


National Research Center Exclusive Interview with CPBB Co-Founder Chris Fabian and the 2016 Conference

NRC's Angelica gets the scoop on the highly anticipated 2016 CPBB Unconference and the power of priority based budgeting in this exclusive local government interview with CPBB Co-founder Chris Fabian.

National Research Center (NRC) is joining with the Center for Priority Based Budgeting to host a data-focused networking party at Earls on August 2nd.  With snacks, games and giveaways, this event will not be one to miss.  Click here for more information on the 2016 CPBB (Un)Conference.


Budgeting in local government today is a prioritized world. Just one week away from the highly anticipated 2016 CPBB Conference, NRC’s Angelica Wedell gets the scoop on the conference and the power of priority in this exclusive interview with the Center for Priority Based Budgeting (CPBB) Co-founder Chris Fabian.
NRC: Why are we so excited to be here, in Denver right now?
Chris Fabian:  Well, we’re a week away from the conference.  I’m a little frazzled but I’m excited to be here with you guys.  It’s going to be our biggest conference to date.  We have some of our best speakers: Zach Markovits from What Works Cities, former mayor of Kansas City Mark Funkhouser from Governing [and many more].  It’s going to be the biggest event that we’ve ever been able to throw for the conference, so we’re really excited.

NRC: Why is priority based budgeting such a big deal?
Chris:  Right now we’re seeing governments truly understand how to take their most precious resources, staff, and reallocate them towards the new programs that really accomplish what their communities desire.  On top of that, we live in an era where data has never been so important.  So being able to have actionable information coming from all variety of resources – including what you provide at NRC – harnessed and leveraged to accomplish the best for our tax payer dollars is what Priority Based Budgeting is all about.  That’s what we’re excited about.
Cheers to that! 
And cheers to the incredible National Research Center for their partnership and sponsorship of the CPBB "A Prioritized World" 2016 Unconference. Find out more about NRC here!
The Center for Priority Based Budgeting
“A Prioritized World” 

2016 Annual (Un)Conference

Denver, Colorado | August 2 - 4, 2016
Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Strathcona County Updating Priority-Based Strategic Plan

"Some recommended updates to the strategic plan include revising prioritized strategic goal ranking, adding outcome statements for strategic goals, and integration of priority-based budgeting references."

Strathcona County, Alberta, Canada, is leading the way in priority based business planning and budgeting. As the first municipality in Canada to implement online PBB, this will result in Strathcona County being more proactive, strategic and effective in program and service delivery.

Priority-based business planning and budgeting will result in Strathcona County being more proactive, strategic and effective in program and service delivery. The process will provide valuable information that supports decision-making by directors and managers, enabling them to allocate or reallocate resources, based on each program or resource request’s alignment to strategic and corporate priorities. It can also be used by the organization to set targets and determine how resources are aligned, based on priorities.

The article below (County strategic plan under review) was recently written by Krysta Martell and published by the Sherwood Park News.

County strategic plan under review

Strathcona County’s strategic plan and corporate business plan are undergoing revisions, one of which may see more accountability through firm outcome guidelines.

During the June 21 county council meeting, the Corporate Planning and Intergovernmental Affairs department presented an update on council’s strategic plan, as well as proposed changes.

Acting as the county’s principle guiding document for governance, community development, infrastructure and service delivery, the county’s strategic plan serves as a foundation for the development of a corporate business plan, departmental business plans, the county master plan, and priority-based budget results and budgeting, itself.

The strategic plan is made up of 12 prioritized goals with the top three being:
  • Strategically manage, invest and plan for sustainable municipal infrastructure;
  • Increase and diversify the petrochemical industry; and,
  • Advance the community’s interests by developing and maintaining strong relationships with our neighbouring municipalities and civic organizations to ensure long-term prosperity.
“This is the culmination of a lot of work that has been done by council over the last 16 months,” said John Dance, manager of corporate planning with the county.

He added one of the reasons an update to council’s strategic plan is necessary is to consider existing and evolving conditions in the community and to encourage ongoing learning.

“These documents... are critical to our planning framework, but what is equally important is the learning that we take from these documents as we use these documents,” Dance stated.

Some recommended updates to the strategic plan include revising prioritized strategic goal ranking, adding outcome statements for strategic goals, and integration of priority-based budgeting references.

Recommended updates to the corporate business plan include reflecting updates from the strategic plan in the corporate plan, refinement of some objectives for clarity and direction, and ongoing refinement of performance measures to reflect commitment to continue working on developing meaningful measures and informed targets.

“We seem to be going right along with the modernized MGA (Municipal Government Act),” said Ward 8 Coun. Fiona Beland-Quest. “Other communities are going to have a lot more work than we do, as administration and council, to get behind what those recommendations are because I see this is fitting in nicely.”

County Mayor Roxanne Carr said it can be a struggle for a municipality to reach out and start two-way communication with the public.

“We have evolved as a municipality,” she said. “We have other municipalities looking at us now and saying, ‘Oh yes, that was a great idea. Why don’t we try it?’ I think it is interesting that our public is evolving, as well. We have our rural public... with two-way communication through the community hall consultations that have gone on out there.

“I’m mindful of our task forces. The Mayor’s Task Force on housing, they just reached out to so many more sectors of the public and... the task force on mature neighbourhoods... they are so thankful that we have been doing the things that we have never done before, and they speak very highly of our engagement process.”

Council members voted unanimously to approve the revised strategic plan and corporate business plan.

Congratulations to Strathcona County for their uniquely innovative and inspiring approach to implementing Priority Based Budgeting. Using the OnlinePBB platform, Strathcona County staff are setting the bar high with their extensive approach to PBB training throughout the organization - equipping every department with access to the tools, and training them how to dive into the data to make resource re-allocation decisions.

As if this weren't enough, the County's dedication to "open data" is leading the evolution of PBB as an open, dynamic, citizen-engagement tool with the access to OpenPBBdata (stay tuned!)...  

The Center for Priority Based Budgeting
“A Prioritized World” 
2016 Annual (Un)Conference

Denver, Colorado | August 2 - 4, 2016
Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

City of Toledo Mayor Hopes Move to PBB Will Restore Faith in City Government

We will have information at our hands that we don't have right now. Council, because council has to approve the spending that comes before us, this is going to give us a great tool to be able to understand where we want to allocate dollars." - City of Toledo Councilperson Sandy Spang

In an unprecedented public-private partnership, the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the City of Toledo, OH to bring Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) to Northwest Ohio. The Center for Priority Based Budgeting is thrilled to join this partnership in bringing PBB to the "Glass City!"

The City of Toledo launched their Priority Based Budgeting initiative earlier this week.

The following article (Officials get first look at budget firm's process) was originally published by the Toledo Blade and written by Ignazio Messina.

Mayor hopes move will restore public’s faith in city government

The City of Toledo is spending money to save money. City council is changing the way they look at the budget hoping to save money in the end.

Toledo officials got their first look at a new way to budget Wednesday, a process the Hicks-Hudson administration believes will help restore the public’s faith in the municipal government.
The city has never done an “across-the-board” process determining the costs for each program, Chief of Staff Mark Sobczak told a group of high-ranking city employees. He made his comments before a webinar with Colorado-based consultants hired to shepherd the city through a review of its budgeting practices.
Toledo City Council unanimously voted last month to spend up to $50,000 from the city’s general fund to hire the Center for Priority Based Budgeting, of Englewood, Colo. The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce contributed another $44,500 to help the city pay the firm’s $94,500 anticipated bill.
“This is a very serious undertaking for us, but also an opportunity,” Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson said.
The mayor said the process will help convince voters to renew the city’s temporary income tax.
The tax will be on the ballot in November, but the mayor has not yet said whether she will ask for a renewal of the existing 0.75 percent income tax, an increase, or a combination that includes the existing tax and an additional amount.
Voters in March rejected a 1 percent temporary tax to replace the 0.75 percent tax.
Mr. Sobczak said the 70-minute webinar, held at the University of Toledo’s Driscoll Alumni Center, was “a good overview” of the program.
The Hicks-Hudson administration intends to identify the cost of all city programs and prioritize each, he said.
“Part of the process we learned in today’s exercise is to be in better communications with the citizens,” Mr. Sobczak said.
Eileen Granata, the city’s chief operating officer, said the group will compile a database and produce a report after doing a series of interviews with city officials, employees, and residents. It will include recommendations and data that could be used to help create the city’s 2017 budget, she said.
City Finance Director George Sarantou asked all city directors to start writing their budgets for 2017.
“Clearly, this process gets us thinking what are the important things and how do we deliver those services in the most efficient manner,” he said. “This is an exercise the city hasn’t been through, and it was a great start.”
Mr. Sarantou said the process will include seeking input from the public.
Councilman Sandy Spang, who pushed for changing the city’s budgeting process in her unsuccessful mayoral campaign last year, said she has high hopes for the program. “If it is done with transparency, it is going to be an opportunity for the public to be able to establish priorities for spending,” she said. “I hope it will be a tool for the city to achieve fiscal health and restore the public faith in the budgeting process.”
The Center for Priority Based Budgeting
“A Prioritized World” 

2016 Annual (Un)Conference

Denver, Colorado | August 2 - 4, 2016
Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel