Budgetary decision making

The article talks about the traditional budget and how it has lasted over time compared to the other budget plans. There are a wide variety of budgets available to public agencies. They each have benefits and limitations for the organizations that use them. Therefore, before choosing a specific type of budget to use, an agency must carefully consider which type of budget will benefit them the most. The reasoning behind the budget in the beginning was because there was a need for accountability, and we needed a way in which we could control the spending process of officials. The traditional budget focused on detail items such as supplies and how they were used. It also provided the information about the budget for the current year as well as the previous year. It asks such questions as how the organization or program will spend the funds for next year. Having a budget plan for one year is argued to be better because multi-year budgets create an uncertainty about what will happen in the future even though it creates stability about what will be issued to a department. The goal of reform budgeting is to use the budget as a tool for accountability, performance measurement and public participation. Public budgeting requires skills that are half technical and half political. Budgets defines choices about what government will and won't do. In turn, budgets reflect priorities and they are one place where we can exact the most change. The budgeting process is a major part of any organization. Regardless of which budgeting process is being used, the benefits of planning and implementing a budget is still the same. Accountability and control of revenue is still a good tool to use for administrators, managers, and departmental heads in the future.

Gosling talks about the classical model of decision making as it relates to the budget. With any decision that is being made, the decision maker faces conditions of certainty, risk, and uncertainty. Rational decision making helps the decision maker stay focused on the facts and rejects anything that is contrary to what is being assumed. The idea of rational decision making is targeted to collect complete information, rule out doubt, and weigh all possible rationalizations. Rationalism gears more toward the project approach and is defines the desired future state. It identifies the activities and allocates the resources required to achieve it. In contrast to this gosling argues that the rational "decision making model is closely represents the way complex decisions are made." (Ott, 2001) Furthermore, Charles Lindblom claims that "decision makers do not approach problems in the comprehensive fashion dictated by the rational model...They focus on the increments of change." (Ott, 2001) Incrementalism involves the process of approach and can't define the future. It recognizes limited resources and the need to compromise. The author also talks about policy analysis. Public policy analysis is determining which of several alternative policies will most achieve a given set of goals no matter the relationship between the policy and the goal. Policy analysis involves a primary concern with explanation rather than prescription. Also it is a sought out search for the cause and consequences of public policies. There are many practical issues that result when a Zero Based Budget (ZBB) is attempted in the public sector. The general premise of ZBB is to justify the entire budget during every budget cycle instead of taking the traditional incremental approach. The process is designed as a bottom-up form of budget building with the program level managers preparing budgetary packages for their program and sending them forward for middle and upper level managers approval and consolidation. In theory this "broader based involvement enhanced legitimacy of what finally went to the central budget office." (Gosling, 1992) The Carter administration was the first to attempt ZBB on the federal level resulting in the "saddling of agency budget staffs with much heavier workloads and greatly increased paperwork requirements, all for the purpose, from the agencies' perspective, of giving the OMB ammunition for budget reductions." (Ott, 2001)

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