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The Definitive Case for Priority Based Budgeting: A PhD Dissertation

If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance.
-       Orville Wright

At the heart of every great mission is a belief – a far-reaching vision of “how much better things could be” if the belief were fulfilled. The Wright Brothers had a belief, and when their vision was fulfilled in their dramatic proof of flight, they launched a revolution in aviation that forever changed the world. A vision without proof, without data and facts to substantiate it’s validity lacks the ability to move people to action – instead of being transformative, it relies on faith at best, and at worst it’s a delusion.

What is the best approach to your local government budgeting process? Performance-based? Outcome-based? Participatory? Priority-based? Of course, the answer depends on what your organization desires to achieve, what your community expects, and what your culture will support.
If we’re to be true to the philosophies of each of these processes, the answer to this question also depends on the evidence and objective evaluation of all options based on measureable criteria. 

In 2013, Master’s graduate and advisor to the City of Oakland, California’s Budget Advisory Committee, Natasha Middleton, authored a paper that does just that. To access both the Executive Summary, as well as the comprehensive analysis provided in Middleton’s thesis paper "Priority Based Budgeting: A Model for the City of Oakland's Long Term Fiscal Sustainability," click here.

"Priority Based Budgeting continues to be the leading practice the most innovative communities continue to implement across the country... transforming the way they communicate about the budget with their citizens."

Now in 2014, we have yet another comprehensive analysis of the best approach to local government budgeting. Dr. Sheryl Mitchell recently completed her PhD dissertation on priority based budgeting. In her paper, An Exploratory Study of Priority Based Budgeting: Identification of Public Values and Public Priorities through Citizen Engagement in Government Budgeting Decisions, Dr. Mitchell states, This qualitative study explored the Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) process and how government leaders can use PBB to engage citizens in budget decision-making by focusing dialogues on public values and priorities. Multiple sources of data were used including twenty in-depth interviews with government officials and PBB experts. The results found that PBB is a strategic tool for long-term planning that incorporates a collaborative and visionary process. Using grounded theory for data analysis, a Values Based Budgeting Framework was developed based on thirteen propositions that illustrate how civic engagement and civic innovation supports and leverages the successful implementation of PBB. This framework incorporates strategies for capacity building alternatives in program and service delivery and citizen-driven performance measures. 

 
The results of this study found that PBB is a tool for engaging citizens in a strategic planning process that builds the social value of government entities by increasing access, inclusion, transparency, trust, respect, and accountability. The findings indicated that through citizen engagement, PBB: (1) gives voice to the public in government decision-making, (2) builds a shared sense of community that enriches the government organization and the community, (3) allows for a government budgeting strategy that is proactive, innovative, and increases transparency by providing access to understandable information and platforms for meaningful and deliberative dialogues, (4) supports deliberative and participatory governance, (5) builds collaborative partnerships immersed in inclusive planning for the delivery of programs and services, (6) addresses the challenges to internal collaborative conversations by increasing awareness across the organization, enlightening participants of their shared roles, and building trust, and (7) by including performance measures and management as a component of PBB, an opportunity is provided to improve and quantify performance, emphasize customer service, increase communication, and shift the focus to outcomes. 

This revealing, dynamic and comprehensive dissertation is a power-packed 350+ pages. While we believe every page of the dissertation is a must-read for every local government professional, we also acknowledge not everybody is up for the task.

In the interest of our valued readers time, we have synthesized the critically important findings and conclusionsections of the dissertation and arranged them for you below. Even by focusing strategically on the essence of the dissertation, this still makes for a few dozen pages.

We at the CPBB truly hope our local government peers do take the time to review this dissertation. If at absolutely nothing else, please review the quotes included below (in bold and italicized). These powerful and inspiring quotes from our peers, partners and PBB community practitioners provide the final evidence of the true power of priority based budgeting!

We are humbled that Dr. Sheryl Mitchell selected the CPBB and our work in developing and implementing priority based budgeting as the subject of her PhD dissertation. And even more humbled with the incredible support and enthusiasm for this innovative local government concept and practice Dr. Mitchell found through her research. Thank you Dr. Mitchell!

Thank you - Team CPBB

 "I really do think that within five years, it will be considered one of the standards in local business. One of the things about PBB...it’s not specific to an industry. I mean – Coca Cola could use PBB. Ace Hardware could use it. It doesn’t have to have local government as its particular focus...but, I see it as a standard in local government."

Introduction
Chapter Five: Discussion and Conclusion
This study explored the Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) in order to understand the PBB process and how it can be used by government leaders to effectively engage citizens in identifying public values and priorities. This study found that the PBB process, by reframing dialogues and focusing on values and priorities, provides guidance to government leaders for budget expenditures.  

At the start of this study there were 33 units of government in communities throughout the United States and Canada that had applied the PBB model in their budgeting process. There are now reported to be approximately 60 PBB practicing communities (Center for Priority Based Budgeting, 2014). 

The study examined ten PBB practicing governmental units that represented a cross-section relative to population, size, and budget. Twelve semi-structured interviews were with government officials from nine PBB practicing cities/counties in the United States. One PBB practitioner represented a province in Canada. The findings from 20 interviews (16 semi-structured interviews and four in-depth unstructured interviews) with key officials presented in Chapter Four provided an understanding of the PBB process. This study answered how PBB is used by local government leaders to engage citizens. In conjunction with addressing the main research focus, it was necessary to explore the following questions.
  1. What is PBB?
  2. How does PBB connect with existing government budgeting processes?
  3. How are public values identified through citizen engagement in the PBB process?
  4. How are public priorities identified through citizen engagement in the PBB
    process? 
The research resulted in the following major themes and outcomes. The major themes of transformation, civic innovation, and public values provided an understanding of the meaning of PBB and the approaches associated with PBB for citizen engagement. The findings indicated that through citizen engagement, PBB: (1) gives voice to the public in government decision-making, (2) builds a shared sense of community that enriches the government organization and the community, (3) allows for a government budgeting strategy that is proactive, innovative, and increases transparency by providing access to understandable information and platforms for meaningful and deliberative dialogues, (4) supports deliberative and participatory governance, (5) builds collaborative partnerships immersed in inclusive planning for the delivery of programs and services, (6) addresses the challenges to internal collaborative conversations by increasing awareness across the organization, enlightening participants of their shared roles, and building trust, and (7) by including performance measures and management as a component of PBB, an opportunity is provided to improve and quantify performance, emphasize customer service, increase communication, and shift the focus to outcomes. 
 
Summary of the Findings 

The findings identified that PBB provides a change paradigm in which government organizations can strategically leverage the strengths of individuals in the community and the entire organization to articulate a vision, generate dynamic conversations, and enrich the culture and relationships. The participants’ responses pointed to how authentic engagement efforts help to identify public values and priorities. Authentic engagement opportunities are created when elected officials provide for meaningful civic participation and public managers incorporate the engagement outcomes into the work of the local government (Huggins & Hilvert, 2013). 

Engagement with stakeholders, particularly citizens, builds understanding, inspires collaborative action, and guides budgetary decisions. One of the primary motivations for seeking a new approach to government budget decision-making was the new normal of local government that is characterized by a dramatic shift in available financial resources that was experienced by many municipalities. 

The fiscal crisis witnessed in recent years, emanating from the home foreclosure crisis and declining property values, was perpetuated by long-term financial obligations such as the unfunded pensions and retiree health care obligations for government employees. The bankruptcy filing for the City of Detroit, the largest city to file in American history, is considered by some experts to be just the tip of the iceberg. A recent study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that 13% of cities are experiencing financial problems, with contributing factors being high unemployment rates, housing foreclosures, population decline, high pension costs, and poor fiscal management (Munnell, Aubry, Hurwitz, & Cafarelli, 2013). 

Fiscal austerity has made it difficult for the traditional approaches to government budgeting to continue along the same path of problem-solving modes and incremental decision-making. “The increasing complexity of the problems to be addressed demands collaborative approaches, not just among the government units but with external entities as well, particularly with citizens” (Nambisan & Nambisan, 2013, p. 8). PBB provides for a greater ability to respond to changing needs in a society and the ability to create new programs and services, while withdrawing from services that are experiencing diminished demand. 

 
The findings reflect that PBB infuses innovation into the government budgeting process. The inter-departmental and cross-functional conversations empower employees to innovate when there is not the fear of reprisals for failure. The application of PBB evaluation tools provides an innovation platform, which facilitates knowledge-sharing and interaction among all of the participants. 

PBB promotes creating a shared sense of community through participatory dialogues and the application of innovation in the approaches to citizen engagement. The participatory design workshops, along with the technology-based innovations for citizen interaction, create a shared sense of community. The PBB process encourages interactions between the internal and external stakeholders, particularly citizens. The PBB process supports civic innovation as part of a collaborative and participatory process. This increases opportunities for inclusion, access, and transparency and promotes mutual trust, respect, and accountability. 

The research questions are addressed based on the data collected from 20 interviews with key officials (12 governmental PBB practitioners and eight PBB subject matter experts). The research began with four unstructured interviews with PBB experts that took place over multiple in-person, telephone, and email communications.   In total, 20 in-depth interviews were conducted (16 semi-structured and four unstructured). Multiple rounds of interviews were conducted in person, by telephone and/or email. 

Chapter Four: Findings 

The primary purpose of this study was to understand and explore the Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) process in order to learn how it can be used effectively to engage citizens in identifying public values and priorities. This study aimed to discover in what ways the PBB process, by reframing dialogues and focusing on values and priorities, provides guidance for budget expenditures and in order to align resources with public values and priorities. The 20 study participants are comprised of 12 PBB practitioners who are government officials representing 10 municipalities. The units of government were primarily located in the United States – with one being from Canada. Four PBB subject matter experts were from affiliated professional organizations. Four participants held roles with the Center for Priority Based Budgeting.

Research Questions 

The main research focus is understanding the PBB process and how it is used by local government leaders to engage citizens?
The following sub-questions are:

  1. What is PBB?
  2. How does PBB connect with existing government budgeting processes?
  3. How are public values identified through citizen engagement in the PBB process?
  4. How are public priorities identified through citizen engagement in the PBB
    process?
This chapter represents the key research findings of this study to understand the PBB process and how it is used by local government leaders to engage citizens. The interviews generated rich, thick descriptive data about the respondents’ perceptions of the PBB process, how does PBB connect to existing government budgeting processes, and how public values and public priorities are identified through citizen engagement in the PBB process. The findings are organized based on the structure of the interview guide and the categories identified in the coding process.
 
Characteristics of Sample 

The 20 respondents included individuals representing two main groups: 12 respondents from ten governmental units that are PBB practitioners and eight from non- governmental professional organizations.  

Descriptive Attributes of 20 Participants
City
State
Unit of Govt / Organization
Group
Title
Gender
Education
Seniority w/ Org.
Edmonton
Alberta, Canada
Province
PBB Practicing Government
Chief Financial Officer
Female
Diploma, Accounting- Bus/Mgmt
2 years
Boulder
Colorado
City
PBB Practicing Government
Budget / Finance Manager
Female
Masters
8 years
Arvada
Colorado
City
PBB Practicing Government
City Manager
Male
Masters
2 years
Cincinnati
Ohio
City
PBB Practicing Government
Budget/ Finance Manager
Female
Masters
15 years
Tualatin
Oregon
City
PBB Practicing Government
Budget/ Finance Manager
Male
Bachelors
5.5 years
Chandler
Arizona
City
PBB Practicing Government
Chief Financial Officer
Female
Bachelors, CPA
6 years
Douglas County
Nevada
County
PBB Practicing Government
County Manager
Male
Masters
4 years
Douglas County
Nevada
County
PBB Practicing Government
Assistant County Manager/ CFO
Female
Masters
n/a
Douglas County
Nevada
County
PBB Practicing Government
Budget / Finance Manager
Female
n/a
n/a
Wheat Ridge
Colorado
City
PBB Practicing Government
Budget / Finance Manager
Male
Masters
2 years
Fort Collins
Colorado
City
PBB Practicing Government
Budget / Finance Manager
Male
Masters
7 years
Walnut Creek
California
City
PBB Practicing Government
Assistant City Manager
Female
Masters
12 years
Boulder
Colorado
National Research Center
Professional Organization
CEO
Male
Ph.D.
19 years
Phoenix
Arizona
Alliance for Innovation
Professional Organization
Director
Female
college, non-degree
10 years
Denver
Colorado
Senior Advisor- CPBB; Former Mayor and Council Member - Northglenn, CO
CPBB
Former Elected Official; Senior Advisor
Female
Masters
 
Washington
DC
International City/County Management Association (ICMA)
Professional Organization
Director
Male
Bachelors, Senior Executive Institute
22 years
Denver
Colorado
Center for Priority Based Budgeting
CPBB
CEO
Male
Masters
3 years
Denver
Colorado
Center for Priority Based Budgeting
CPBB
CEO
Male
Bachelors
3 years
Denver
Colorado
Center for Priority Based Budgeting
CPBB
Staff (Master’s Thesis)
Female
Masters
1 years
Chicago
Illinois
Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA)
Professional Organization
Director
Male
Masters
12 years
 

 Participants - PBB Practicing Governmental Unit

Ten PBB practicing governmental units, with twelve respondents, were included in this multi-case study. The governmental units had one respondent each, with the exception of Douglas County, Nevada, which had a total of three respondents. Twelve respondents held senior management roles with local units of government. Nine of the units of government were within the United States; comprised of eight cities and one county. One respondent represented a province in Canada.
 
Descriptive Attributes of Government Unit Demographics
COMMUNITIES DEMOGRAPHICS
Unit of Government
Form of Governance
2012 General Fund Budget (millions)
2012 All Fund Budgets (million)
Square Miles
2010 Population
2010 Median Age
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
12 Council Members Mayor Council Member Manager
$1,900
$2,300
270.2
817,498
36
Chandler, AZ
7 Council Members Mayor Council Member City Manager
$ 266
$ 804
70
237,161
32
Walnut Creek, CA
5 Council Members Mayor Council Member City Manager
$ 42
$ 66
19.76
65,000
48
Arvada, CO
7 Council Members Mayor Council Member / (elected at large)
City Manager
$ 67
$ 175
36.5
108,530
40.5
Boulder, CO
9 Council Members Mayor Council Member City Manager
$ 215
$ 250
25
97,385
28.7
Fort Collins, CO
6 Council Members Mayor (elected at large) City Manager
$ 388
$ 485
55.58
143,986
27.9
Wheat Ridge, CO
8 Council Members Mayor (at large) City Manager
$ 27
$ 41
9.5
31,031
44
Douglas County, CO
5 County Commissioners County Manager
$ 38
$ 127
750
47,000
47
Tualatin, OR
7 Council Members Mayor Council Member City Manager
$ 24
$ 70
8
26,160
35
Cincinnati, OH
9 Council Members Mayor
City Manager
$ 944
$1,400
78
331,285
32

  

Category Summary of PBB

RESEARCH QUESTION
CATEGORY
What is PBB?
Strategic Process for Government Budgeting
Organization Transformation
How Does PBB connect with existing government budgeting process
Traditional Budgeting Process
How are public VALUES identified through citizen engagement in the PBB process
Creating Shared Sense of Community
How are public PRIORITIES identified through citizen engagement in the PBB process
Collaborative/Participatory Process
Exploring the Meaning of PBB

The interview process began with an inquiry into the respondents’ perception of what motivated their organization to adopt the PBB model. Participants representing governmental units were asked: What was your community experiencing that made you decide PBB was the best process? What were you hoping to achieve by adopting PBB? What do you think is needed to implement a successful PBB process? What lessons were learned in the initial PBB cycle that were (or will be) helpful in subsequent years in order for your organization to have more exceptional experiences with the PBB model? 

Respondents from organizations, which were subject matter experts but not necessarily PBB practitioners, were asked: What was your organization (or customers) experiencing that made you decide to affiliate with the PBB process? What do you think is needed to implement a successful PBB process? In their responses, participants referred to PBB as a new tool for decision-making in relation to a strategic process for government budgeting and organization transformation. 

PBB can be integrated into the long-term financial planning and strategic planning activities of government organizations. Organizations adopt a strategic plan and process to provide a long-term competitive approach to service delivery. According to the best practices recommended by the Government Finance Officers Association (2005), the strategic planning process is:
...a comprehensive and systematic management tool designed to help organizations assess the current environment, anticipate and respond appropriately to changes in the environment, envision the future, increase effectiveness, develop commitment to the organization’s mission and achieve consensus on strategies and objectives for achieving that mission

Strategic planning is about influencing the future rather than simply preparing or adapting to it. The focus is on aligning organizational resources to bridge the gap between present conditions and the envisioned future. While it is important to balance the vision of community with available resources, the resources available should not inhibit the vision. The organization’s objectives for a strategic plan will help determine how the resources available can be tied to the future goals. An important complement to the strategic planning process is the preparation of a long-term financial plan, prepared concurrently with the strategic plan. (para.1) 

All of the respondents identified PBB as a component of a strategic process in government budgeting. According to Mintzberg (1987), strategy focuses groups’ collective norms, values, and perspectives as instruments for action. PBB was identified as a mechanism for identifying stakeholders concerns, values, and priorities. The properties that emerged from the data relative to this category involved the motivating/presenting issues, organizational readiness and capacity, and prioritized financial decisions. For example: 

RESP 20: Priority-driven budgeting is a common sense, strategic alternative to incremental budgeting...The philosophy of priority-driven budgeting is that resources should be allocated according to how effectively a program or service achieves the goals and objectives that are of greatest value to the community. In a priority-driven approach, a government identifies its most important strategic priorities, and then, through a collaborative, evidence-based process, ranks programs or services according to how well they align with the priorities. The government then allocates funding in accordance with the ranking.

The respondents also identified PBB as a catalyst for organizational transformation. The dynamic conversations culminated in a budgetary process that moved decision-making from being transactional and insular to and a process that was incremental and inclusive in nature. PBB, as an instrument for organization change and transformation, deeply impacted the culture and interaction within the environment (Kontoghiorges & Hensen, 2004). An example of the emergence of organization transformation from the data stated: 
RESP 17: Priority Based Budgeting continues to be the leading practice the most innovative communities continue to implement across the country...transform[ing] the way they communicate about the budget with their citizens.

Transformational organization change models “emphasize the integration of social and technical systems in supporting the continuous process or change” (p. 23). PBB was clearly identified as providing new analytical tools for data-driven decisions. The properties that emerged from the category of organization transformation included culture, dynamic conversations, and organizational integrity.  

Strategic process for government budgeting. There are a number of interpretations of the meaning of strategy. In the public sector, strategy is conceptualized as the process in which government organizations focus on improving their performance and providing better services. A strategic process can be initiated from a vision, and/or mission statement to provide a starting point for identifying budgetary priorities and aligning them with service-related results. Within PBB, priorities are expressed in terms of the results or outcomes that are of value to the public. 

The category strategic process for government budgeting generated three properties: motivation / presenting issues, organizational readiness and capacity, and prioritized financial decisions. Analysis of the data revealed that the dimensions for motivation/presenting issues were related to a new tool for decision-making, fiscal crisis, long-term financial planning, high performance organization, citizen engagement, and transparency. The dimensions for the property organizational readiness and capacity were related to the use of resources (staff and length of time) and the frequency of the PBB process. The analysis of the responses also revealed the dimensions of data-driven support for rational decisions and analytical tools related to the prioritized financial decisions category. 

Motivation and presenting issues. Respondents were asked what they were experiencing as a community that led to their decision to implement PBB and to describe what they were hoping to achieve. Emerging from the analysis was the motivations for adopting the PBB. This property reflected that government leaders were seeking a new tool to assist in their budgeting decision-making process. 

Eight of the respondents identified the need to address the current or forecasted fiscal crisis as a major factor in looking into the PBB model. Nine communities were seeking long-term financial planning, even if they were not experiencing an economic downturn. These respondents also mentioned that the motivating factor included seeking a new tool and approach to the budgetary decision-making process. Additional motivations in adopting PBB included seeking best practices, enhanced citizen engagement, and increased transparency.

Dimension: New tool for decision-making. Fiscal austerity motivates innovative and less resource intensive approaches to problem-solving in government (Nambisan & Nambisan, 2013). PBB provides an innovative approach to budgetary decision-making that aligns resources with the priorities of the community. Barrett (n.d.) identified four stages involved in decision-making—data gathering, information processing, meaning- making, and decision-making. Values-based decision-making is a process of reflection that “creates a future that resonates deeply with who we really are” (p. 6). 

The responses indicated that PBB is consistent with what Barrett identified as the key features of values- based decision-making: (1) there is reflection on values and needs before preceding to action, (2) the decisions are not based on past experiences but are focused on the preferred future, and (3) there is consultation with others to support and enhance the decision-making. The following responses reflect the motivation for PBB is associated with seeking a new tool for decision-making: 

RESP 9: Local officials are dying for the priority tool!...Time after time, what elected officials asked was on things like...what is role in this whole budget thing? How come the staff puts the fiscal budget together and there still be money left for the initiatives that I want to consider? I think that officials are looking for tools like this.

RESP 17: [PBB] is a unique and innovative approach being used by local governments across the Country to match available resources with community priorities, provide information to elected officials that lead to better informed decisions, meaningfully engage citizens in the budgeting process and, finally, escape the traditional routine of basing new budgets on revisions to the old budget. This holistic approach helps to provide elected officials and other decision-makers with a "new lens" through which to frame better-informed financial and budgeting decisions and helps ensure that a community is able to identify and preserve those programs and services that are most highly valued.

RESP 8: I would say, are not anywhere near being in a fiscal crisis...you really do need to start looking at what are the priorities of the city, and there probably are some programs that you just need to get out of the business of...While we were at that conference, we realized that the tool that Priority Based Budgeting had developed - would help us to take that extra step. 

Dimension: Fiscal crisis. Since 2010, 38 municipalities have filed for bankruptcy, including the 2013 filing by the City of Detroit – the largest city to file for bankruptcy in United States history (Farmer, 2013). The fiscal crisis that witnessed the collapse of the housing marking and rise in home foreclosures was only the beginning of financial distress that municipalities are experiencing. 

The next wave of fiscal uncertainty is related to the unfunded financial obligations for the pensions and health care coverage for government retirees. This situation is placing increased and longer-term distress on local units of government. These financial obligations are absorbing an increasing percentage of the ongoing operating budgets. “In San Jose, Calif., for example, the city’s pension payments jumped from $73 million in 2001 to $245 million in 2012, roughly 27 percent of that city’s general fund budget” (Farmer, 2013, p. 38). 

The economic downtown experienced in many communities was a catalyst for adopting PBB to make strategic decisions. Financial constraints have forced many governments to take a hard look at the services and programs that they offer. Eight of the respondents identified the need to address the current or forecasted fiscal crisis as a major factor in looking into the PBB model.
RESP 12: Our assessed values had dropped significantly and our revenues had dropped significantly. And, we are extremely cognizant of what our ongoing costs are. So, we had to address that immediately. And we put together a plan to downsize our personnel through retirement and voluntary separation incentives. And, then from an operating budget standpoint, and looking at our services, we went a step further and started the Priority Based Budgeting Process.

RESP 2: We were facing a lot of economic challenges, housing market decline, tax value decline, sales tax decline, property tax declines, everything was down. We were running about an annual $3 million structural imbalance in our general fund budget. The public and departments had a growing frustration, every year it was the flavor of the week kind of thing. Taxpayers had a growing frustration that we weren’t making strategic decisions.

RESP 10: We were facing significant economic downturn, and knew that we would be having to do cuts. So that was the primary motivation. Now, since then we’ve realized significant other benefits from it. The main driver – needing to do something with our budgeting process to address the first economic or declining fund of that magnitude that the city had ever experienced.

RESP 4: Like every other community, struggling with the recession. Actually, 70% of our general fund comes from income tax. So when people are losing their jobs and companies are not being profitable, that was really hitting our revenue. And so there was that, and then the State ...normally shares revenue with the cities, and schools and counties. And they also [have] their budget problems...and they balanced their budget on the backs of all the other governments. So with our revenues not keeping pace with our expenditures, we knew we needed to do something different with our budget and we needed to prioritize...we call it Priority Driven Budgeting. 

Dimension: Long-term financial planning. The analysis of responses to the motivation and presenting issues for the adoption of the PBB model revealed the respondents interest in seeking a long-term financial plan (LTFP). Nine communities identified the ability to engage in long-term financial planning and was a motivating factor for applying the PBB model. 

The Government Finance Officers Association describes long-term financial planning as: (1) a combination of technical analysis and forecasting to identify problems, and strategizing to address them and (2) a collaborative and visionary process that involves elected officials, staff, and citizens to develop consensus strategies and ensure successful implementation; and institutionalizing long- term (five to 10 years) thinking for financial sustainability (Kavanagh, 2013). The dimension of long-term financial planning is related to PBB as a collaborative and participative strategy for financial stress from declining fund balances and increased budgetary obligations.
RESP 2: Finally we said we really need to look at what other communities are doing and invest in a consistent long-term process for budgeting. We reached out to the Alliance for Innovation -- in early 2011, they got us connected with Chris Fabian and Jon Johnson from the Center for Priority Based Budgeting... We wanted something that was structured, not around identifying cuts, but finding ways in which we can more appropriately make investments and engage local community and our departments, employees and policy makers in a discussion about how to make strategic changes during the course of the year rather than okay, it’s the budget cycle, we have to cut $3 million where do the cuts come from?

RESP 6: With the economic downturn that started in 2008, I wasn’t here at the time, but the city went through quite a few cut backs, elimination of positions. As people left they wouldn’t fill positions. The city had gone through a lot of cutting to try to get down to a point where it could fund ongoing operations with the revenue we had. The problem was our capital improvement fund was not being funded the way it needed to be. There was really no long-term financial plan to fund that.

RESP 19: In the earliest part of the recession they were able to weather cut backs by borrowing from reserves, making small across-the-board cuts, and implementing selective hiring freezes. However, all of these communities, using projections of future revenues, concluded that their means of balancing the annual budgets were unsustainable and that they needed to make sizable cuts to make it through the next 5 years. 

RESP 11: It is a very difficult thing to do because people care more about potholes than thinking down the road about how they want their money spent.

Dimension: High performance organization. Leaders of high performing organizations aspire for improvement within their organization’s culture even when the organization already performs well (Kotter & Heskett, 1992). Twelve of the respondents associated PBB with the aspiration to be a high performing organization. 

Analysis of the responses revealed that long-term financial planning is related to high performing organizations as a strategic and visionary process. The High Performance Organization (HPO) model by the Commonwealth Centers for High Performance is a leading organizational approach for local governments. The foundational principles include: innovative leadership, leadership exercised by every individual at every level of the organization, quality, and customer value. Higher performance is accomplished by taking the values and visions of the organization and creating a work culture, strategy, structure, and systems that supports the achievement of the goals.

The dimension high performance organization was generated from the responses, which revealed it as a dimension of the property motivation for PBB.

RESP 1: Leading organizations are always looking for new ways of doing...We are always looking for emerging practices and taking emerging practices and helping organizations transform that into their day to day practice. We always looking at cutting edge, next step – those things in local government that everybody is looking to do. Not everybody; but a majority of. And then, if we can partner with somebody that we believe has a cutting edge, an emerging practice – which PBB was four or five years ago when they started.

RESP 2: I really do think that within five years, it will be considered one of the standards in local business. One of the things about PBB...it’s not specific to an industry. I mean – Coca Cola could use PBB. Ace Hardware could use it. It doesn’t have to have local government has its particular focus...but, I see it as a standard in local government.

RESP 7: In terms of the culture of the organization it’s a high performing organization serving a community that is very, very supportive of its local government but also expects high quality services. Very collaborative, a lot of citizen engagement. The organization had a reputation of excellence.

Dimension: Citizen engagementCitizen engagement reflects the direct involvement of individuals in public affairs, as opposed to being solely reliant upon representation from their elected leaders in the government arena. Svara and Denhardt (2010) define citizen engagement as: Citizen engagement focuses on revitalizing democracy, building citizenship and reinforcing a sense of community, and it cannot be equated with one-way exchanges between government and citizens. We recognize that while exchange and engagement are different, the two are often connected; citizen engagement is buttressed by a foundation of positive outreach to citizens and interactions in everyday service delivery and operations. (p. 5)

PBB engages citizens, as stakeholders, in decisions about the community’s purpose and direction. This represents a paradigm shift in government budgeting, wherein, traditionally citizens were solely informed about the level of expenditures and an identified funding source. PBB supports more highly evolved citizen engagement where residents are actively involved in discussions identifying the values and priorities of the community and strategically aligning the delivery of programs and services. All of the respondents supported citizen engagement initiatives as a part of the PBB process.

RESP 3: Citizen engagement is a significant piece of what managers are going to need in order to keep things together to go forward... I think that’s one of the strengths of Priority Based Budgeting. Because when you go through the process of engaging the community. And you give them an understanding of the facts. Then at least you give them a context to make changes or make decisions about changes that don’t look like they are coming down from on high. And are not therefore not to be trusted.

RESP 12: We knew that the budget was going to be difficult and wanted to have a different way of approaching the budget and...with more citizen involvement and more robust process...we really have to be savvy technology wise and think of ways to draw people in...it’s a different demographic in that respect.

RESP 2: We wanted to engage the public in that discussion...in addition to just managing the internal process we go through, it [PBB] gives us a tool to evaluate how we are spending money thoughtfully and also help us to find a way to engage the public in the discussion.

RESP 11: Civic engagement is the latest thing people are talking about I think it was spurred with the downturn of the economy. Because...folks who are the leaders of their community feel they need help to improve their communities.

Dimension: Transparency. Analysis revealed that that an issue faced by local government is the need to be open and transparent about decisions with the residents. Transparency is defined by Finel and Lord (1999) as: Transparency comprises the legal, political, and institutional structures that make information about the internal characteristics of a government and society available to actors both inside and outside the domestic political system. Transparency is increased by any mechanism that leads to the public disclosure of information. (p. 316)

According to the literature, government transparency relates to citizens’ access to information of public concern and their ability to participate in the political decision- making process (Cotterrell, 1999). The three primary purposes of transparency are to provide essential information, increase public participation, and hold the government organization accountable (Balkin, 1999). Transparency promotes accountability and instills trust in government by making information available to the general public, which creates new innovations and resources (Lukensmeyer, Goldman & Stern, 2011). 

Citizen engagement in the PBB process creates transparency by providing an opportunity for the public to evaluate the performance of the government organization and hold the organization accountable. Five respondents pointed out that PBB increases transparency of government operations and decisions to internal and external stakeholders. 

PBB openly identifies community priorities and illuminates the impact of government budgeting decisions. The analysis of the responses reveals a relationship between PBB and transparency, which is closely associated with accountability and trust.

RESP 19: A direct motivation [to adopt PBB] was to bring greater transparency to the budgeting process by allowing citizens to engage thoughtfully with local decision-makers. Envisioning their budgets in a new way or changing decision-making patterns, PBB’s focus on realistic, transparent projections and decisions made this budgeting technique appealing.

RESP 20: Instead of first having the organization identify the amount of resources “needed” for the next fiscal year, it should first clearly identify the amount of resources that are “available” to fund operations as well as one-time initiatives and capital expenditures...Sharing the assumptions behind the revenue projections creates a level of transparency that dispels the belief that there are secret funds that will fix the problem and establishes the level of trust necessary to be successful.

RESP 3: There is a big push around financial transparency. We’ve talked to an entity out there in Palo Alto that is doing some work around transparency and they had a technological solution. Their product would go in and pull five years’ worth of financial data out of the city’s general ledger system. This was a technological approach that brought transparency to the people -- so that could begin to trust what their local government and leaders were saying. So, transparency leads to trust. And government has to be willing to meet the transparency requirement of the local government. Trust and transparency are the two big values...you keep citizens involved...it begins to provide more transparency. Transparency is really the way you develop trust and trust is the way citizens feel comfortable in a community. They want to be able to trust their leaders and that’s the foundation on which you build communities.

The respondents also pointed out that citizen engagement could play a role in achieving transparency and trust. Transparency in government plays a major role in the organization’s ability to gain and maintain public trust (Bunting, 2004). Analysis of the responses indicates that government organizations seeking to increase transparency may be motivated to adopt citizen engagement and the PBB process. The PBB process, by incorporating citizen engagement, provides increases transparency by providing access to understandable information and a platform for dialogues with government leaders.

RESP 17: 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 and to provide clarity where it’s sometimes uncertain.

RESP 18: First and foremost, local governments must be clear and transparent about what truly is their picture... Communicating that picture simply, clearly, and understandably without volumes of numbers, spreadsheets, tables, and an endless series of charts is frankly a challenge that has plagued managers for years. If managers are going to be able to demonstrate financial reality internally to elected officials and staff, and externally to residents, they have to find better ways to make fiscal situations understandable and transparent to everyone.

RESP 10: Transparency of the prioritization of the program and services driving what is funded or not funded. And having that level of visibility does allow for us to really see the political process work. In one of our cut environments, we had a recommended cut to our Dial ride...And in that process there was significant outcry from the community that attended council meeting. And so they had an opportunity to voice based on a cut they would know was happening. If we had a traditional budget, that cut would have been made before it was ever communicated specifically what was being cut and the community would not have had an opportunity to save that service.

Organization readiness and capacity. Respondents were asked to identify what supports the ability to successfully implement PBB? The data analysis generated the organizational readiness and capacity as a property. Twelve respondents indicated that PBB is a catalyst for organizational change. 

Organizational readiness reflects developing a participative design that allows for diverse frames of reference. The capacity for transforming an organization by implementing PBB requires a commitment of staff time for the formation of strategic alliances, and integration of innovative approaches to budgeting. Analysis of the responses indicated that the implementation of PBB is valuable, but does require the dedication of staff resources over a span of time.

Dimension: Use of resources - staff and time. PBB involves individuals throughout the organization in a labor and time intensive, deliberative, and collaborative process. Fifteen respondents acknowledged that staff time was required throughout the organization in order to achieve a shared mindset for a preferred future, to identify the programs and their associated costs for each program, and undergoing a peer review process to prioritize the programs based on the objectives of the organization and the results that are seeking to achieve. Three respondents indicated that for smaller communities or those that have experienced reductions in staffing, the implementation of PBB could prove to be challenging. 

In contrast, Respondent #1 stated “Smaller can move a little faster and implement it a little easier”. The following are illustrations of the responses relative to the dimension use of resources - staff and time relative to the property organization readiness and capacity:

RESP 1: I think that in order to practice PBB, it has to be a part of the culture and it has to become something you do every budget cycle. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense otherwise. I mean it is a lot of work intense to go through just once.

RESP 4: ...the city departments are an integral part of identifying the programs, identifying the cost associated with the programs and being involved in the peer review. And that takes time. You know, we had a successful process, but if we had had more time I think it would have been even better...In fact, the peer review process was an important part of getting everybody involved and looking at programs citywide and other departments. And the one challenge with that was we really didn’t have enough time to truly give everybody the time that they needed to really look at each other’s programs. So we’re doing it again and that would give more time for the peer review process. And also I think I would involve citizens in the peer review process.

RESP 1: The process of implementing something new takes a lot of time and energy – up front. Because you need to take all this information sources that you traditionally looked at one way...and pull them out and put them into this whole new format idea. And, then the idea of collectively...you and your peers are going to decide the priority of your programs...the priority of your work. It is just a whole different mindset.

RESP 13: That’s part of why when we looked at implementing, intentionally implementing, the prioritization a few years ago, that’s part of what scared us off. Not that it was stated. But it was going to take a lot of time and a lot of staff commitment. And we just had too many things going on and we weren’t hitting that wall.

RESP 10: It’s also a step because of the time and intensiveness of it. I’m not going to say impossible, but pretty close, for small communities to embrace it. When you have one person whose, you know in charge of three different departments and three different hats, that size of organization is going to be very challenged to successfully implement a full blown [PBB] process...Acknowledging the amount of time and resource that it takes - with the trade-off being a significantly better budget.

RESP 5: Give yourself more time than you think you will need. Everybody is so busy since we have had a lot of cuts over the past couple of years. So, we are a pretty lean organization, so staff have their day to day responsibilities. So this is something in addition, on top of everything else they have to do. And you could do multiple steps in the process at once. We just take it one step at a time. So that way people don’t – in the organization - don’t get overwhelmed.

RESP 14: [PBB] is a tool that is embraced by the elected officials, that the community has come to expect, understands, and values. And, that the logistics part of it has become routine. And, basically, once you do it a few times, I firmly believe that the amount of work designed to keep it going is pretty small. I would envision it becomes so engrained, that you don’t even think about it. It’s just our budget process and part of our normal course of business. 

Participants were asked what lessons were learned in the initial PBB cycle that were (or will be) helpful in subsequent years in order for your organization to have more exceptional experiences with the PBB model? In general, the responses reflected upon their vision of a preferred future. 

The responses indicated interests in an expanded application of PBB to other sectors/industries, increased government commitment, citizen engagement throughout the process, incorporation of performance measures, a broadening of participation/collaboration opportunities, increased uses of technology, and the continued development of analytical tools for data-driven decision-making. Table 4.5 provides a summary of the frequency of the related responses:

Preferred Future for PBB
Vision of Exceptional Experience Achieved Through PBB
Frequency
Selected Responses
Apply in other sectors
2
RESP 1: I really do think that within five years, it will be considered one of the standards in local business. One of the things about PBB, it’s not specific to an industry. I mean – Coca Cola could use PBB. Ace Hardware could use it. It doesn’t have to have local government has its particular focus.
RESP 6: PBB is being used as the community identified values. [Our community has] a planning instrument that was created by the county, city and school district. So we are merging those two things, we are merging that overarching plan, a ten-year plan, for what the city and what the region should look like. And we are merging that with what the community has identified as its priorities through the Priority Based Budgeting process. We are saying -- how do these two things come together and become the framework for our community, to not only do what it does, but to sustain that long-term? And it stretches beyond just the financial aspect. Priority Based Budgeting, as a tool right now, is really from the financial perspective. This framework goes beyond that.
Increased Government Commitment
8
RESP 20: Senior staff must support the process as well because priority-driven budgeting requires a significant time commitment from staff. If the board and CEO are behind priority-driven budgeting, it will go a long way toward getting senior staff engaged. Staff members who have experienced priority-driven budgeting say they support it because it gives them a greater degree of influence over their own destinies. Staff no longer passively awaits judgment from the budget office; instead, they create their own solutions because priority- driven budgeting invites them to articulate their
   
relevance to the community.
RESP 1: I think that in order to practice PBB, it has to be a part of the culture and it has to become something you do every budget cycle. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense otherwise. I mean it is a lot of work intense to go through just once.
Performance Measures
4
RESP 3: There are a lot of local governments that have gotten away from active performance measurement...Priority Based Budgeting open the door for that performance practice to be reinstituted.
RESP 5: Performance measurements were kind of something we had been thinking about...Priority Based Budgeting was good because it would help us understand what programs are most important and then we can start to work on creating performance measures to ensure we are providing those in an efficient manner.
RESP 6: What makes the circle complete and allows us to continue really successfully -- is that we don’t have in place a strong performance measures that are tied to Priority Based Budgeting result areas...measuring the effectiveness of our programs.
Citizen Engagement
11
RESP 4: I would have citizen engagement throughout the process... more time and more involvement from citizens in the different parts of the process.
RESP 5: Tend to get good feedback from our surveys and good response rate. And, I think that any time you can go to them. One thing we haven’t done well on is using online forms and stuff like that. That’s something that we should do more of.
RESP 10: By involving not only the departments and the administration and the elected officials, but also the citizens in the conversations about the priorities that you end up with a better end product.
Broader Participation / Collaboration Opportunities
9
RESP 4: We also had employees that are not normally involved in the budget process -- who actually got to do the peer review. And that’s something I would also I’d want to do, is just expand the opportunity for just normal employees to participate in peer review. I think that was a good outcome and a good opportunity for just trying service sharing between departments.
RESP 7: In conversations I’ve had with businesses in the community, I talk about relying on partnerships. Wherein, we’re going to look at business partners that maybe delivery the service more effectively or efficiently that we can.
RESP 13: I think this is a really good model to use that... could involve the community, all of the departments and the council and really be able to visualize what we’re talking about.
   
RESP 20: There could be great potential in engaging other community institutions – businesses, schools, churches, non-profits – about partnership opportunities.
Technology
2
RESP 6: The technological approach -- like Peak Democracy... What’s really nice about this engagement – it’s a Peak Democracy tool that limits the participation to those who are actually residents of the city.
Tools for Data-Driven Decision-making
7
RESP 2: To put PBB in all of financial documents. Trying to make our budget book even more useful by putting our Priority Based Budgeting goals in there as a reference guide as to what programs we use, what does it cost, and where are we at? I envision that in the future, it will be a part of our conversation in everything that we do financially.
RESP 13: I think we could really use it to meet or make some decisions in good times.

The responses indicate an ardent interest in applying PBB more comprehensively throughout the organization; engaging citizens and regular throughout the process. The future visioning for PBB included applying this process in other sectors, incorporating performance measures, and continued entry of analytical tools for data-driven decision- making.

Dimension: Frequency of the PBB process. The PBB process is most often aligned with the annual or bi-annual budgetary process. The frequency of the PBB process is defined as the time frame to complete the eight major steps of the process: (1) identify available resources; (2) identify priorities; (3) define priority results more precisely; (4) prepare decision units for evaluation and score against priority results; (5) score decision units/programs against priority results; (6) compare scores between programs; (7) allocate resources; and (8) create accountability for results (Kavanagh, 2007; Kavanagh et al, 2010). Five respondents identified implementing the PBB less frequently due to the time needed to engage staff and citizens, noting that the identified priorities did not change significantly on a year-to-year basis.
RESP 5: We just have to determine what it looks like going forward. Is it something we do every year? Or is it something we do every other year? Do we look to do citizen engagement and see whether or not our results change substantially? And go through the process again when those results get updated and changed? Especially after going through it the second year and we refined everything. I don’t know it’s necessarily a process you need to go through every year, maybe every other year...if the results don’t change dramatically...It is a big process. It takes several months leading up to our normal budget process. Since this is in addition to everybody else’s normal duties. I think it is something we should be sensitive to that and determine what makes most sense for our organization -- whether it’s every other year or whether we do an update every five years or as result definitions change.

RESP 7: We’ll look at it every two years – with the two-year budget. But the most comprehensive will occur about every six years.

RESP 14: It’s pretty labor intensive. So, having the staff buy-in to the whole process is really important...we adopted the [PBB] process, the following summer of 2009. We modified it somewhat, but creating a community engagement part of the process...and, again it was aimed at the 10-12 budget. For the second time, for the 12-14 budget, we didn’t repeat all of the community engagement processes. We actually just used the results from the previous times. Not to replicate that - that was a nice time saver.

Prioritized financial decisions. Respondents were asked what they thought would be needed in order to implement a successful PBB process? The prioritization of financial decisions emerged as property of the category strategic process for government budgeting. The prioritization of financial decisions involves the government organization in a collective focus and effort to make budgetary decisions based on accomplishing its priority results and how to allocate resources to achieve those results. 

Prioritizes financial decisions is defined as government budgeting that establishes priorities and provides for the allocation of resources based on “how effectively a program or service achieves the goals and objectives that are of greatest value to the community” (Kavanagh, Johnson, & Fabian, 2010, p. 1). Within the PBB prioritization process, budgetary decisions align a community’s values and priorities with the vision and goals of the elected governmental leaders, government finance officers, civic leaders, and community citizens. The dimensions data-driven/rational decisions and analytical tools characterize the property prioritized financial decisions.

Dimension: Data-driven – rational decisions. The PBB process enables government leaders to make budgetary decisions focused on the community’s values and priorities. Ten respondents made a reference to the PBB process and its analytical tools transforming data into information for rational budgetary decisions. Data-driven – rational decisions are based on quality data collection analysis and collection (Hilvert, 2013). 

PBB provides a process for making budgetary decisions that are based on data and that drive rational decisions. The following are illustrations of the responses that identify that PBB supports informed rational decisions for the prioritization of programs and services as part of a strategic government budgeting process.

RESP 14: I always think that [Community L] always has a very strong budget process. But, [PBB] certainly added clarity to why we were putting money...where we were putting it.

RESP 9: the detail is always available - you can drill down and look at what are all those third quartile programs? What are those programs that we’re talking about? And then they can ask the questions of staff. So, we’re actually paying $30,000 a year on doggie poop bags?! Hmm...is that the best use of our resources? Is there another way? You know you can have a much more meaningful conversations. And, you have real data and information to back it up.

RESP 8: We know it’s hard as a Council to say to citizens that a program is not important to the citizens that actually use that program. But, it will also arm them with the explanation and the tools to explain why we’re getting rid of it and why it’s not within the best interest of the city as a whole to continue to offer that program. It’ll help give them the tools to explain things better to citizens. Because right now it’s really hard to explain some of that...Up until now, all we were able to say is, well because we think it’s kind of the right thing to do. But we couldn’t articulate why.

RESP 19: PBB synthesizes information about spending, programming, and priorities to articulate and prioritize the obligations of local government, inventory the cost of services, and examine how public money is spent. When it comes to making more permanent reductions or cuts in a city’s budget, PBB can empower local decision-makers with information about the community’s values and current spending patterns.

RESP 2: It [PBB] allowed us to look at things that may not have otherwise been funded were funded because of how well they supported multiple outcomes, and then the contrary, the reverse of that happened as well where things that were initially supposed to be funded were not. Without the use of that tool, those changes would not have been made.

RESP 5: I think that was a big task for us too because all of the data was just displayed differently than what PBB asks you to do. So, it was a big hurtle to get everybody thinking about what do programs cost us to provide and I think it’s a good shift...because we can use this to help us create those line items. I don’t think it will necessarily change the way our budget looks or how we put money into different line items, but I think it’s good to know how all that money gets distributed to support programs and ultimately support organizational results.
RESP 10: The ability to clearly explain the decisions that were made for the cut. I would say you can see they had done the prioritization of programs and services – which one had less of an impact on the city – on the citizens. And so you had better justification of where the cuts were made. Then on the flip side as we’ve entered this last cycle into a more growth environment, we’ve been able to prioritize more strategically where to invest that increased revenue.

RESP 13: I think the data that this model provides even -- in good times -- is good information. And I think we could really use it to meet or make some decisions in good times. That’s what I really liked about it mostly at the conferences, there’s so much value to the data you get out of it just for ongoing discussions – even if you never get to where you have to make some big decisions.

RESP 6: Determine which ones are high priority programs. And that would help us start looking at reallocating funding in our programs and possibly cutting programs so that we can fund higher priority programs or maybe cutting programs altogether. That it would just allow staff to provide better recommendations to council and also have kind of a system behind that to back up our recommendations.

RESP 3: I think that the pressures that they are beginning to see now, it is going to be the dictate of local government eventually. The Federal government and State government, they are structurally broke. The local government is going to have to come in and be the innovative and creative sources to bring services to citizens. So, politicians have to be shown – that following process like Priority Based Budgeting - is going to allow them to make the decisions they need to make. Make policy of the decisions they make. And to make them in such a way that they are evidence based and are less likely to be rejected.

Dimension: Analytical tools. The CPBB provides tools and resources, as part of the PBB process, to assess the fiscal health and wellness of the organization. The analytical tools of PBB are seen as providing a foundation for dynamic conversations and informed decisions. 

The PBB analytical tools are defined as the Fiscal Health and Wellness, the Resource Alignment Tool, the program inventory tool and program scoring tool. (Johnson & Fabian, 2013). All of the respondents recognized that PBB is an analytical tool and process for prioritizing budgetary decisions.

RESP 1: [PBB provides] Tools and resources to make fully informed and educated decisions. New tools and resources that are easier to understand than the traditional line item budget for our elected officials. And, a tool that lets them look at, not only this fiscal budget, but can go 5, 12, 15 years out. And, make some really informed decisions.

RESP 26: PBB served as a 360 degree evaluation tool and drove strategic decisions; not just a tool to cut. PBB is not top-to-bottom, but a tool that everyone in the organization can use.

RESP 9: [PBB] is a dynamic tool. So, to play “what-if”. For example, I see that our revenues are going to drop below our projected expenditures in year three. What if we instituted a sales tax increase? What if...this is project is done? Or, we have additional revenues? We can play those games and it’s so easy to make the changes and test those assumptions in real time. Rather than, council just coming up with a whole series of questions. Then two weeks later we meet again. And, staff has the answers. And, the questions generate from there and we have to wait two more weeks. So, I think it’s such a wonderful tool in transforming data into information that then supports a meaningful, substantive conversation.

Participants were asked questions regarding their use and impressions about Fiscal Health and Wellness Diagnostic Tool to evaluate current status of services and finances and the Resource Alignment ToolTM that sets target budgets and aligns an organization’s resources with the programs and services that are most highly valued by the community. Table 4.6 presents the key components of assessing the fiscal health of an organization.

Fiscal Health and Wellness Tool Key Components
Components of Achieving Fiscal Health and Wellness
Strategic Questions
Approaches to Achieving Long-Term Fiscal Wellness and Wellness
Spend within our means
Start with revenues -how much do we have available to spend not how much do we need to spend?
  • ��  Start with what drives each major source of revenue
  • ��  Distinguish one-time from ongoing sources and uses
  • ��  Differentiate program revenues from general government revenues
Establish and maintain reserves
What are our reserve requirements?
Why do we need to keep money in the bank?
  • ��  Establish and maintain reserves (including working capital, emergency, long-range plans, major maintenance, and asset replacement)
  • ��  Understand what makes up fund balances and why you hold reserves
  • ��  Have a written fund balance reservation policy
  • ��  Monitor fund balance levels to ensure they
    aren’t too little or too much, but just right
Understand variances (budget versus actual)
What’s the difference?
What are our forecasting tools?
Are there too many contingencies?
  • ��  Understand and align the budget with actual expenditures (refine salary and budget projects to align with actual costs, provide more effective budget monitoring and management to eliminate variances, and identify and eliminate the fluff)
  • ��  Fund cyclical expenditures with one-time funding sources
  • ��  Consolidate contingencies maintained in department budgets
  • ��  Promote multi-year budgeting for capital projects
Transparent about the true cost of doing
What is the true cost of doing business?
�� Identify direct and indirect costs for all programs
business
 
  • ��  Establish Internal Service Funds to fairly and equitably allocate costs and engage departments in assessing the demands for these services
  • ��  Allocate overhead and administrative costs to funds and departments that benefit from those services
  • ��  Promote cost recovery for programs where appropriate
  • ��  Inventory and cost all programs to determine the true cost of offering programs/services
Incorporate economic analysis and long-term planning into decision- making
What’s the Plan and what could cause it to change?
What does the future look like?
  • ��  Incorporate all long-term plans (5-to-10 year financial forecast) within the organization into your financial forecasts
  • ��  Prepare comprehensive, multi-year capital improvement plans and clearly identify associated ongoing operating costs
  • ��  Identify only relevant economic indicators to monitor
  • ��  Effectively utilize easily understood, graphic tools to communicate financial position to all stakeholders (elected officials, citizens, and staff)
  • ��  Incorporate scenario-planning which encourages flexible and adaptive decision- making

Eight of the respondents representing municipalities indicated wide use of the CPBB tools and enthusiastic appreciation of the new lens for analyzing programs and the alignment of resources.

RESP 18: Fiscal Health Diagnostic Tool provides a quick assessment of any organization’s fiscal health status. Resource Allocation Tool provides not only a mechanism to set target budgets based on Priority Based Budgeting approach, but also serves as a way to depict how well any organization is aligning its resources with the programs and services that the community values.

RESP 5: Just through [the PBB] process, you kind of see a natural distinction between the programs that are of the highest priority to your community and the ones that are less so. Some of the ones that are less meaningful might be mandated to provide, so you might still have to provide them, but at least you start to see what things are most important.

RESP 4: The actual data that we got from it is a nice Excel based system that has detail on all the data in the budget in a way that we were never able to present it before.

RESP 2: It was a tool they can use to analyze their own programs, especially in reorganizations, for example, it is very effective.

RESP 9: And, it is not even that programs are eliminated, but, it leads to a whole range of options that the governing body could consider. It could be let’s quit doing it. It could be let’s do it differently by partnering with another entity – be it public, private, or nonprofit. Or, let’s choose to do it differently. I think it changes the menu of alternatives that they the governing body can chose from.

RESP 8: We used it to gather all the data and to go through and look at the results. And then we took it out to the different departments and what not. And shared the results with them so that they could use it to help kind of guide some of their discussions at budget. And like I said, we used it at the department level this year and not at the corporate level. Our ultimate goal is to use it as a corporate prioritization tool, and to help us use it [with] Council.

Other analytical resources that the PBB process offers are program inventory and program scoring tools. A fundamental step in the PBB process is to inventory all the programs offered by the government organization. A program inventory provides clarity about what services are provided and the key characteristics of each program, including the full cost of providing the program and the associated revenues that are generated by the program to support its operations. 

With the program inventory, it is important that programs are sized in a way that allow for meaningful decision-making. If the program is too large or vague, in identifying its purpose, it is difficult to align with priorities. If the program size is too small, it is really more a task and rendering the organization unable to fairly gauge the impact of a program. 

The program inventory tool is utilized to determine the full cost plans of programs and services to better determine the true (direct and indirect) costs of offering programs/services. This tool also assists in determining the base level of service and the discretionary levels of service above the base levels(Johnson & Fabian, 2013b).

Generally speaking, if a program equates to 10 percent or more of total expenditures of the funds in which it is accounted for, then the program should probably be broken down into smaller pieces. If a program equates to either one percent or less of total expenditures or $100,000 or less, it is probably too small and should be combined with others. (Kavanagh, et al., 2010, p. 11)

Program scoring is determined by how much a program contributes to the priorities of a community. In the PBB process, typically, departments develop their own program inventories, which include the objectives of the program. The priorities can be weighted by relevance so that the score reflects not only how much a program contributes to the priorities of the organization, but also how important, in terms of dollar allocation, the priorities are relative to each other. 

A second dimension of the scoring process is the scoring of programs by four key attributes: demand for the service; cost recovery; state or federal mandate for provision; and whether or not government is the only or most logical entity to provide the service (Kavanagh et al., 2010).

Respondents were asked if they used the PBB Health and Wellness program inventory and/or resource alignment tools? They were also asked what were the results and what were their impressions? The tools were used in varying degrees. Some respondents were unfamiliar with the names of the specific analytical tools, but were familiar with the process undertaken. 

All of the respondents indicated that the PBB process and its analytical tools provide the data for engaging in dialogues to make assessments of government programs and services and prioritize the financial decisions.

RESP 19: Inventorying all of a government’s services into a list of programs is the most difficult part of the process, but for many, it is the most illuminating. By costing out and rethinking the budget in terms of what specific services a government provides, decision-makers gain valuable information about what they actually do and how much each unit costs to produce. This information can lead to valuable efficiency gains or areas for targeted concern. For instance, information about the true cost of fee-based programs allows for more accurate and fair fee setting; or, information about what services each department provides can illuminate any redundancy across the entire organization.

RESP 6: We run a list of programs that are...not mandated. So programs that we would potentially be able to in reallocate or shift resources from to higher priority programs, as a part of that data we are looking at for final decision budget. We have. But it’s not easy to do! We have [eliminated programs] but not much – but we have done some. What we have done and this is why we had the conversations this year ...we realize that sometimes eliminating a program is difficult in the political arena. What we’ve been able to do is identify something for elimination and begin planning that elimination over a course of two to three years. So you can do the outreach, communicate why it is being eliminated and what the other priorities are.

RESP 9: What PBB does, is as a tool – it allows a dynamic conversation. And, so, what if we need this? Alright, we can change these assumption. Here is how it would look like. We don’t need to talk about the things...because they are meeting our objectives and their getting the results we are trying to achieve. Let’s start with the low hanging fruit, which are those programs that aren’t helping us achieve our results – that we don’t have to do. But, may be a result of mission creep. Or, it was a project established 20 years ago and nobody remembers where it came from, but we just keep doing it.

In summary, PBB provides government organizations with a strategic process for budgetary decision-making that is part of a long-term approach to financial planning. The fiscal crisis experienced in many communities was an impetus for government leaders, in the face of declining revenues, to find a way to prioritize programs and services based on rational decisions. 

Addressing financial challenges was not the only motivation for implementing the PBB process. Government leaders were also interested in a mechanism, even in a healthy economic climate, that allowed for better decision-making and provided the data to support the decisions. Other motivating factors in adopting PBB were an interest in being an innovation leader and adopting the best practices relative to government budgeting, including increasing opportunities for meaningful citizen engagement and transparency. 

PBB practitioner communities recognized the organizational readiness and capacity to incorporate the prioritization practices into the budgeting process required additional staff time and resources. Noting that the preferred results/outcomes tended not to change in the course of an annual budgetary cycle, some communities are extending the prioritization process and allowing it to take place over the course of two years or longer. Citizen engagement in the PBB process provides for greater transparency about the government budget and budgeting decisions.

Organization transformation. The respondents were asked to describe what was the greatest achievement of using PBB based on their experiences or observations? Four respondents specifically associated PBB with organizational transformation. The category organizational transformation is characterized by three properties: culture, dynamic conversations, and organizational integrity. Organization transformation is being defined as achieving sustainability and improving organizational behavior, culture and customs by focusing on engaging a cross-section of stakeholders in generative, dynamic conversations to identify the core values. 

The literature describes organizational transformation as a change initiative that involves a cross-section of stakeholders in positive democratic dialogues at the strategic level to invoke “cultural changes that transform the organization into an innovative, participative, and quality-driven entity” (Kontoghiorghes & Hansen, 2004, p. 15). The data analysis revealed that the dimensions for the property culture were related to change agent and political environment. The dimensions connected to the property dynamic conversations were related to collaborative (internal) conversations and engagement (external) conversations with citizens. The category organizational integrity revealed four dimensions: core values, continuous improvement, sustainability, and performance measures.

Culture. Five respondents pointed out that PBB transforms the culture of the organization. Organizational culture refers to the assumptions, beliefs, values, and norms that are shared by members of that organization (Rothwell & Sullivan, 2005). The literature describes cultural change in the work environment as extraordinary individuals, teams and organizations creating a system conducive to flourishing and building capacity (Dutton, Glynn, & Spreitzer, 2006). The property culture is characterized by the dimensions of change agent and political environment.

RESP 3: Citizen engagement, being able to score, taking an objective look -- in that concept in your organization, you get a great opportunity not just for the budgeting process, but you are allowed to assess the culture of your organization. Because when you make the impetus to change, culture is the big one. Many people are oblivious to the culture of their organization, because they just live in it...But all you have to do is institute one little tiny bit of change and you see how drastically the culture can shift one way or another. It’s sort of a nice by-product out of it, you start to look at the culture. What Priority Based Budgeting does is – it makes the local government look at itself and say - you are not the center you are just a part of a larger community.

Dimension: Change agent. PBB can be a vehicle for transformational change within an organization. Thirteen respondents referenced PBB as being a catalyst for change in the organization. 

Transformative change is a significant shift in the culture, mindset, and behavior of an organization that is sustained over a period of time (Rothwell & Sullivan, 2005). Local units of government are struggling with a paradigm shift in regard to their expanded responsibilities, the movement towards the sharing of services with non-governmental organizations, and meaningful engagement of citizens. 

This shift impacts the approaches to problem-solving and the decision-making conversations. The findings and the literature reflect this changing paradigm as one in which “participants in conversations about aspirations for their communities [are] creating opportunities for participants, officials, and staff to work together on community issues and projects” (Huggins & Hilvert, 2013, p. 1).

The literature defines change agent as an individual or process “that leads a diagnostic effort involving many units and levels in a collaborative fact-finding and problem-solving process to diagnose key problems” (Rainey, 1996, p. 159). In the emerging dynamics of complex organizations, change agents attempt to alter or positively impact the environment (Eoyang, 2005). 

Within government organizations, the change agent can facilitate the transformation from the old bureaucracy to a high performing organization that adapts innovative business practices (Hale, 1996). The PBB process as a transformational change agent within an organization’s culture are illustrated in the following responses:

RESP 5: PBB is truly more than just a way to address your budget woes. The great thing about Priority Based Budgeting is it can help support the type of culture an organization desires by not simply viewing this process as a budget tool when it is really so much more. PBB is helping us further our culture in areas where we know we have room for improvement. PBB is more than being about the state of your budget, it is about the state of your organization.

RESP 20: The foundation of any prioritization effort is the results that define why an organization exists. Organizations must ask, “What is it that makes us relevant to the citizens?” Being relevant – providing those programs that achieve relevant results – is the key purpose and most profound outcome of a priority-driven budgeting process...It brings with it an important cultural shift – moving from a focus on spending to a focus on achieving results through the budget process. Priority-driven budgeting should be perceived by all stakeholders as a process that improves decision-making and changes the conversations around what the organization does (programs and services), how effective it is in accomplishing its priority results, and how focused it is on allocating resources to achieve its results.

RESP 3: There are those who believe that the way it has always been done - is the way it ought to be done. Change is hard. Change is really hard. And in part being able to do something efficiently is to find out why there is a resistance to change. And then once you begin to identify their root causes of resistance then you can work it out. That is probably one of the biggest obstacles...overcoming resistance to change.

RESP 1: A lot of times you see a new city or county manager come into an organization. As their six to nine month observation, and then start implementing those tools and resources, as PBB, as a new way of doing business. It kind of depends on the culture that they inherited or the culture of that organization. You always are going to have those who are going to push back. But, again, I really think that the fiscal crisis afforded the cities and counties to say to their communities, as well as, to their staff - we can’t afford to do business the way that we are currently doing it. It is not going to sustainable. We are looking at a new way of doing business. PBB is that tool.

RESP 7: When we implemented [PBB], the organization was not very high performing. It was part of an initiative that was introduced by a brand new city manager, who I believe was brought into the organization specifically as a change agent...We worked first with our department heads, and then next with our middle management team. And now we’re kind of working it through the rest of the organization. Or really – we are pretty much completed. Working it through the rest of the organization - helping them to understand the process that is associated with change.

RESP 10: [PBB requires] a willingness to change and do your budgeting pretty radically different than traditional budgeting. And it totally changes the conversation, because you know what the dollars are funding or not funding.

RESP 19: Communities who have undergone the PBB process reveal that organizations that employed PBB were motivated by a desire to be more strategic, to improve transparency and communication, to gather better information, and to change the way they build budgets.

RESP 8: We’re right now in the middle of a corporate cultural initiative, where we’re trying to get people to think of it as -- you don’t think about your individual department, think about us as one city. We’re moving in that direction anyway, so this [PBB] really helped us kind of fit into that.

Dimension: political environment. The implementation of the PBB model occurs in an environment that is often resistant to change and where government leaders, concerned about their future electability, dominate budgetary decisions. Nine respondents identified the inherent culture and challenges within a government organization in which decisions are made in a political environment that are volatile, uncertain, and not focused on the long-term implications of decisions. 

The literature defines a political environment as one that is dynamic and where elected officials are often skeptical of a bureaucracies’ willingness to dependably follow their stated intentions due to conflicts between the branches of government, changing public expectations, bureaucratic self-interest, and partisan politics (Lowi, 1969; Rourke, 1992; Wilson, 1989; Yang & Hsieh, 2007). 

Within a political environment support can fluctuate due changes in power, committee composition, administration agenda, or coalition stability (Moe, 1989). Analysis of the responses reveals that the political environment can impact the adoption and effectiveness of PBB because of uncertain political support, leadership stability, and administrative continuity. 

RESP 3: One of the biggest obstacles...overcoming resistance to change and then there’s the political will issue. That typically has been a politically motivated plan. What we have found is that most politicians of local government, or any office for that matter of fact, is based on election cycles, whether that’s two, four or six years. So, for most of them, it’s difficult for them to take a long-term perspective on planning. Because at a certain point, they have to figure out, I have to start making policies that will get me reelected.

RESP 19: PBB appears to promote the kind of thinking and communicating that will allow finance directors to speak knowledgably about their how they are spending funds and where they might look for areas of cuts or expansions. By providing insight into how elected officials and citizens want limited funds spent, PBB has great potential to help city staff understand the political climate of their community.

RESP 9: Working in, especially a dysfunctional council, and one that’s very contentious, you really didn’t have a language or process to take an objective look at what the city was trying to accomplish. ...[PBB] it’s changing the way the conversations are different. In typical boards or county commissions – that the conversations are around – oh, in difficult times – let’s cut here, let’s do an across the board, without really understanding how those dollars translate into real programs that are trying to achieve real outcomes. I think, they are often, very political. They are not grounded in factual information.

RESP 6: We chose PBB because we thought it would be more effective...in the political arena. But I think the political arena still provides tremendous challenges to actually making changes based on a prioritized system of any kind...I think that ultimately having upper management support in the implementation of the program was very key to being able to implement it. I would say engage your elected officials.
RESP 5: Have to get everything to line up time wise from when we have elections, when city council comes on and when they do their strategic planning and when we are doing our PBB process that leads into our budget process.

RESP 20: Priority-driven budgeting, like any budgeting process, is still a political process. As such, it will not and should not lead to “scientific” or “apolitical” allocation of resources – rather, it should change the tone of budget discussions, from a focus on how money was spent last year to a focus on how the most value can be created for the public using the money that is available this year.

RESP 14: We fund crossing guards for the schools. Even though the schools are a separate government entity. And, in fact, we have five schools districts that cover [Community L]. We’ve done this through the years through a partnership arrangement. And, that had fallen to the 4th quartile. It’s not a core city function. And, so we recommended to council that that be a program that we stop providing. And, we turn it over to the schools. If they want those services that they contract with a provider and that they make it happen. Well, the council didn’t agree with that. They said no! We still want to fund this. The reaction from the community would be – how could you not fund this. That this is important. And, probably in other places too, even though schools were separate governmental agencies, the typical person in the community doesn’t really know that. Or understand how that all works.

Dynamic conversations. In response to the questions about the achievements and outcomes of implementing PBB, all of the respondents recognized that PBB engaged stakeholders throughout the organization in new conversations. The rewards are many: financial returns, an engaged and productive workforce, and new thinking that leads to new products and services that define the uniqueness of the government organization. Respondent #9 made specific reference to dynamic conversations by stating, “I think what PBB does, is as a tool – it allows a dynamic conversation”. 

In response to questions about the greatest achievement of using PBB, fourteen of the 20 respondents identified new conversations within the organization as a significant achievement of the PBB process. Analysis of the responses identify dynamic conversations as a process of articulating values that helps budget managers build budgets that reflect the needs and interests of the people who approve them (elected officials) and those who vote for decision-makers (citizens) (Gardner, 2013). Conversely, it can also be a way for city staff to communicate with decision-makers what it is they do and why it is valuable. The application of PBB frames new, dynamic conversations. 

The literature describes dynamic conversations as being generative and inspirational throughout all phases, connecting everyone in the organization to be motivated and inspired to act (Stavros & Hinrichs, 2009). The dimensions of dynamic conversations are the internal conversations (collaborations) and the external conversations (engagement).

Dimension: Internal collaboration. PBB provides a process and a set of tools that transforms the government organization through dynamic conversations between elected officials, administration, and employees. Internal collaboration is when individuals throughout the organization are engaged in strengths-based dialogues focusing on financial decisions that achieve the results most important to the community. The initial conversations start at a higher level and evolve around the definitive questions of why do we exist as a local government and what are we in the business to achieve. 

The literature defines dynamic conversations as a group of any size that can engage in a deliberative dialogue in which they build on one another's thinking, challenge assumptions, pose questions, and make connections in a collaborative exchange (Baron, 2007). All 20 of the respondents provided comments that referenced heightened internal communications and collaborations associated with adopting PBB when responding to the questions about the greatest successes experienced in association with PBB. The following are illustrations of the responses reflecting that PBB facilitates collaborative conversations internally within the government organization:

RESP 17: The Center for Priority Based Budgeting has seen its diagnostic approach to achieving Fiscal Health and the development and utilization of its unique and innovative Fiscal Health Diagnostic Tool profoundly change the conversation between local government managers, finance professionals and elected officials.

RESP 19: Since PBB focused on priorities instead of individual departments, senior management was pleased to see that communication across departments improved.

RESP 4: [As part of the PBB process] ...we had a peer review team for each priority area...made up of directors, union leaders, normal just regular city employees that came out and said they wanted to attend, and then, of course, budget coordinators in the department. And we had people volunteer, so no one was there who didn’t want to be... we had some of the best dialogue we have ever had about that program! And that was a success even in just that alone. It got people talking...we also had employees that are not normally involved in the budget process -- who actually got to do the peer review. And that’s something I would also I’d want to do, is just expand the opportunity for just normal employees to participate in peer review. I think that was a good outcome and a good opportunity for just trying service sharing between departments.

RESP 6: PBB is the entire framework for our budget process. We start and end with it...The other thing that’s been really great about it is for some of the departments that have been more isolated and more challenging, we’ve very carefully invited those folks to the table. Because when they are there and see everything else that’s going on in the city it helps them become more part of the whole.

RESP 13: I would say we’re able to keep council at that high level. They really just look at those red and blue lines [revenue and expenditures] on the model...It was nice to know [the mayor and council] recognized that we were talking about two different things and so the discussion was completely different. And I got a few council members that, anytime we’re talking about something, they have that image of the red and blue lines in their minds and they’re cognizant of some of the decisions they’re making on how or what impact they have, or they’ll ask us questions, which has been good for us – it’s still kept at a real high level.

RESP 9: I really think that it just changes conversations. And, make them meaningful and relevant to what the community the community is really looking at, and looking for, and expecting out of their government... there has to be a motivated organization. By motivated, I mean one that is willing to take the time to ask a different set of questions. To delve into the data and actually turn in information that is useful to the decision- makers. But, not be afraid to let the elected officials - and the public as well, to get and see what in fact they are doing. It takes a willingness to change the conversation...to ask the right kind of questions...to ask difficult questions. And, to engage in a meaningful conversation around those answers...The process that Priority Based Budgeting offers can certainly make a huge difference in the kinds of conversations that elected officials have amongst themselves and with their staff around these resource allocation decisions.

RESP 8: I think one of the biggest successes for us is it got people talking. I think that the fact we still have people talking and still got people looking at the data and factoring in how it might come into play with the decisions their making, it’s still a success.

RESP 14: [PBB] also helped us to start having some budget conversations about why are we providing that program. And, gee...you say it’s mandated, but tell me more about who mandates it. So, it’s really designed to help you have better conversations at the staff level. And, then to be able to talk about the recommended changes to the council and to the community in a better way.

RESP 5: When we are having those budget conversations - we’re really challenging one another and saying does the status quo have to stay? Is it more important to turn this money over to a different program or create something new that will have a greater benefit to the community.

RESP 1: Realization that the $22 line item travel order has no bearing or weight in the overall success of the organization...or on it’s budgeting. So that the ability to look at your entire organization, prioritize it – collectively, internally and then with your elected officials – that is a huge tool! That is a huge resource. 

It is important to note that there exist challenges to cross-functional collaboration in a government organization. Booher (2004) highlights that there are challenges to introducing a collaborative mindset in the traditional governmental culture that has communication patterns with long established communication approaches that promote segmented and isolated decision-making. 

The existing institutional context is structured around adversarial approaches to collective decision-making that discourage collaboration. Collaboration is likely to conflict with the political and bureaucratic styles that define much public policy practice. Many public officials and members of the public are unfamiliar with such methods of collaborative...practice as mediation and facilitation, process design, authentic public participation, cross-cultural communication, and reflective dialogue; nor do they have the skills to participate. The practice may feel risky to many people in traditional agencies because it could upset long- established arrangements and have unknown consequences. (p. 33)

Analysis of the interview responses revealed that PBB addresses the challenges to internal collaborative conversations by increasing awareness across the organization, enlightening participants of their shared roles, and building trust. PBB facilitates internal collaborative conversations amongst the elected officials, government leaders, and employees.

Dimension: External engagement. The main research question was understanding the PBB process and how it is used by local government leaders to engage citizens. All ten of the PBB practitioner communities participated in citizen engagement initiatives as part of the budgeting process. External engagement expanded beyond citizen engagement to include the individuals and groups outside of the government organization who are impacted by and can affect the achievement of the organization’s objectives (Kahane, Loptson, Herriman, & Hardy, 2013). 

This can include community based organizations, faith-based institutions, business groups, non-government organizations, and other municipalities. Broadening the pool of external participants for engagement to include individuals and organizations beyond citizens is recommended in order to nurture relationships, extend outreach capacities, provide a balance of perspectives, reduce
misperceptions and distrust, and build partnerships for community-based resources (Institute for Local Government, n.d.). Analysis of the responses indicated that PBB provides an appropriate platform for a broad base of public engagement.

The literature noted that there are challenges in establishing meaningful engagement with external stakeholders. According to Booher (2004), “many traditional practices, such as holding public hearings, are not designed to involve the public in decision-making. In addition, many structural aspects of these institutions have unintended perverse effects that discourage deliberative dialogue” (p. 42).

The engagement of citizens in deliberative forums provided accessible information about issues and choices; can involve a group that reflects the demographics of the community; facilitates high quality discussions, and provides a mechanism for the ongoing involvement by the public through feedback, monitoring, and evaluation (IBM Center for the Business of Government, 2006). PBB impacts and transforms the organization through the authentic engagement of citizens in meaningful dialogues utilizing multiple platforms.

RESP 3: We have tried to focus people away from what has been the traditional high touch side -- which is let’s hold a meeting and invite everyone to city hall and talk about it. This is where they combined it with the high touch side. They took the initiatives out into the community. They would hold various meetings in schools, libraries around the community. They would bring people in. So they could then see posters about these different initiatives. And there were representatives from the local government who would be there -- talking to them, answering questions about things. So you’ve gotten out of City Hall -- you got in to the community. And you begin to interact with people where they were. Those are the types of citizen engagement activities that will begin to bear more fruit. It worked by putting an ad in the paper of a meeting at the Community Center. They went to the local churches. They went to the local sports programs -- to find where these people were. And they had to engage them where they lived. And in putting in that effort, really made a difference in the results that they got. That’s the thing to communication -- that local government has to be proactive about! Asking the citizen. If you just invite them to something and expect them to show up. You’ll never engage them. They have lives; they’ve got work to do.

RESP 2: We felt like 87 people to spend 10 to 30 minutes -- that was the interesting thing, we found most people who responded filled out the longer version, the people who came and did the survey were really – they were okay spending the time. They actually wanted to get really extensive feedback. We may try to adjust that in the future by finding a simpler way to get broader feedback from people and then more in-depth kinds of things.

RESP 4: There’s a lot of pressure to do service sharing and things like that. And Priority Based Budgeting also gives you an opportunity to look at which programs have other programs in the city that provide that same function, Whether a government jurisdiction or even another city department that does that same thing.

Organizational integrity. In responding to questions regarding their impressions and the results of implementing PBB, 15 responses related to organizational integrity. Organizational integrity is defined as internal accountability with individuals being held to the highest standards of ethics by an objective code of morality relative to their work behavior in the organizations (Becker, 1998). 

Integrity plays a key role in the success of the government organization, which is demonstrated by actions consistent with its core values. The dimensions that emerged for the organizational integrity property included core values, continuous engagement, sustainability, and performance measures. PBB is consistent with strategic initiatives that provide a highly participative approach to implementing a new vision, strategic direction or process that builds upon shared values and understanding as part of an organizational change process (Dannemiller, 2000; Eggers, James, & Johnson, 2002).

Dimension: Core values. Fifteen respondents indicated that PBB aligns the government organization’s decisions with the core values of the community. According to the literature, core values are used to identify the core elements of public participation that transcend national, language and cultural boundaries” (IAP2, 2009). The concept of voice of the future builds on public participation as a core value. Analysis of the detail revealed that core values include legitimacy and are closely related to accountability and transparency. Citizen involvement in public deliberation is found in the literature to increase public legitimacy (Kahane, Loptson, Herriman, & Hardy, 2013). 

Solid core values enhance the ability to keep government decision-making honest and fair (Campbell & Radford, 2013). Through the PBB process, citizen attention is focused on shared values underlying policy and budgetary choices. Translating the core vision and core values into everything the government organization does “requires ways of connecting everyone – evoking ownership, commitment, understanding, involvement, and confidence in the vision’s promise” (Stavros, Cooperrider, & Kelley, 2003, p. 438). 

The PBB approach to organizational change can involve both internal and external stakeholders in identifying core values as part of the participative strategic planning activity. The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2, 2007) identifies seven core values for the practice of public participation. 
1. Public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process.
2. Public participation includes the promise that the public’s contribution will influence the decision.

3. Public participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognizing and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision- makers.
4. Public participation seeks out and facilitates the involvement of those potentially affected by or interested in a decision

5. Public participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate.
6. Public participation provides participants with the information they need to participate in a meaningful way.

7. Public participation communicates to participants how their input affected the decision.
PBB reflects the core values of public participation by engaging the stakeholders in positive change and meaningful participation. This involves all levels of an organization in appreciative interchanges around their core values that leads to higher creativity, better decision- making, and increased collective capacity because individuals, teams and the organization have aligned around strengths and around ideas that generate energy for action (Cooperrider, 2010). PBB engages stakeholders in identifying the core values of their community and government organization through a participative process.

RESP 19: A key part of this [PBB] exercise is identifying and defining the values of a community. Gathering accurate information about these priorities necessitates reaching out to elected officials, citizens, and local leaders.

RESP 6: PBB is being used as the community identified values. And then the Comprehensive [Community B] Plan, which is again a planning instrument that was created by the county, city and school district. So we are merging those two things, we are merging that overarching plan, a ten-year plan, for what the city and what the region should look like. And we are merging that with what the community has identified as its priorities through the Priority Based Budgeting process. We are saying -- how do these two things come together and become the framework for our community, to not only do what it does, but to sustain that long-term? And it stretches beyond just the financial aspect. Priority Based Budgeting, as a tool right now, is really from the financial perspective. This framework goes beyond that.

Dimension: Continuous engagement. PBB is a dynamic process of continuous engagement that creates, builds, and sustains capacity. In response to questions regarding the results of the PBB process, five respondents indicated they have ongoing efforts to enhance processes, expand communications, and cultivate citizen engagement. Continuous engagement is defined in the literature as public problem-solving over a sustained period of time through collaborative planning, implementation, monitoring and assessment (Institute for Local Government, 2013). 

Continuous engagement involves deliberative forums that more intensive and occur over an extended period of time, often with multiple meetings and more than one avenue for engagement (Institute for Local Government, 2013). The avenues identified with PBB included a broad spectrum of
approaches to citizen engagement, including surveys, stakeholder group interviews, online dialogues, and deliberative forums. PBB supports multiple platforms for continuous engagement through a deliberative process in which groups of citizens, as representative of their community, learn, engage in meaningful dialogue, and discover common ground to influence government decision-making (ICMA, 2013).

RESP 4: I would have citizen engagement throughout. I would have employee engagement throughout the process. And have city council do what they did, give policy direction related to the priority driven budgeting outcomes...Held three follow up citizen sessions. Formed a Citizens Budget Committee, with membership from members of city staff, current administration, and community members. Conducting citizen engagement experiments. Want citizens on peer review teams. It would be great to have the priority programs integrated in the budget system -- so we wouldn’t have that disconnect at the program level in the budget.

RESP 26: Will reformate budget document based on PBB, continue to build on citizen engagement, refine PBB model with departmental annually, and analyze programs and service delivery models.

RESP 14: Included a “visual journalist” to illustrate and publish the [Community L] story. The chapters are linked to each PBB priority goal. PBB process also quantified the use of volunteers. Established an interactive web presence through “Issuu” [an online digital publisher].

RESP 2: We communicated it throughout the community as part of our financial statement of the county, that we presented it to the board and the business community. That was a really helpful part of it as well. It’s the Board itself showing the value of PBB we continue to meet with them quarterly to show them the results of this process. It’s not just something that we do at budget time...I had somebody inspire me to re-evaluate this program...To put PBB in all of financial documents...I envision that in the future, it will be a part of our conversation in everything that we do financially.

RESP 10: It’s very important to evaluate your processes and what worked and what didn’t because you can always get better, and if we hadn’t done that we wouldn’t have gotten to the point of having citizens on our internal teams. And that’s a really scary concept for a lot of organizations. but yet we’ve learned that that is fantastic and we’re actually going to expand it. Every year we do an evaluation of what worked and what can be improved, so we’ve continuously improved the process.

Dimension: Sustainability. Sustainability is a dimension of organizational integrity. Sustainability is defined as unifying values, themes and principles that integrate past strengths with current knowledge to address future challenges (Bourgon, 2007). Consistent with findings from the relevant literature, the PBB model provides a framework for sustainability that reflects stability, continuity, the common good, and pubic interest (Jorgensen & Bozeman, 2007). Five respondents referred to sustainability in identifying the results from adopting PBB. 

In defining sustainability, the literature indicates: Sustainability derives its greatest power and potential in organizations when it is embraced as a set of core values that uplift and integrate economic prosperity, environmental stewardship and social responsibility, sometimes referred to as people, profit and planet. When an organization embraces these sustainability values and weaves them into the fabric of the social architecture it becomes definitional – manifesting itself in everything the company says, feels and does. Each organization must arrive at its own shared understanding of what sustainability means and create its own unique path to bring those goals to life. (Amodeo, Cox, Saint & Stavros, 2008, p. 1)

Sustainability provides new insights into the organization’s strategy. Sustainability solutions requires looking through a new lens to seek innovation, seeking collaboration with key stakeholders, and building organizational competencies and capacity by listening to and reaching out to stakeholder groups (Laszlo, 2008). PBB builds sustainability through citizen engagement and collaborative partnerships immersed in inclusive planning for the delivery of government programs and services. The partnerships may encompass citizens, nonprofit organizations, business enterprises, and other governmental units. Analysis of the data revealed that the category organization transformation is characterized by the property organizational integrity, of which one of the dimensions is sustainability.

RESP 3: The whole concept of Priority Based Budgeting is more than just generating this year’s fiscal budget. It is a way of holistically looking at how we are building communities and how we are financing the construction and maintenance of that community. The goals – typically - are sustainability and resiliency! That’s part of the holy grail of local government; can we sustain the practices that keep us going as a vibrant community? And, can we be resilient enough that in those situations where the unknown takes place -- that we can bounce back and do it quickly to get back to where we were. Because you can’t argue with the facts!

RESP 6: The other thing that has come out of [PBB] – we were in the process of developing something called the “sustainability framework”...which was a planning document produced with the city, county, school district, and a number of other regional players. Between that and Priority Based Budgeting results that were identified by the community, we’ve been building what we call our “overarching framework” - which we want the city to function in. It forms more than just budgeting, and it really talks about everything we want to achieve.

RESP 7: In conversations I’ve had with businesses in the community, I talk about relying on partnerships. Wherein, we’re going to look at business partners that maybe delivery the service more effectively or efficiently that we can.

RESP 19: Early outcomes experienced after approximately one budget cycle were better information, better communication, a more strategic approach to planning, and changes to institutional processes. PBB appears to be a practical, sustainable solution for maintaining fiscal health while aligning spending with community values.

Dimension: Performance measures. Best practices for governmental entities prescribe that they should establish clear, relevant goals and objectives; set measurable targets for accomplishment; and develop performance measures, and clearly communicate their progress in achieving those goals and objectives (NACo, 1999). “Performance measurement has become an essential part of the reform agenda in governments around the world, driven by increasing pressure from elected officials and citizens demanding higher levels of accountability, responsiveness, and quality” (Yang & Hsieh, 2007, p. 861). Meaningful performance measurements provide assistance to government officials and citizens in evaluating resource decisions related to programs.

Performance measures are not always a component of PBB. “Citizen-driven performance measures differ from the more traditional managerial-driven performance measures in that citizens help define and articulate the aspect of government performance that matter most to them” (Callahan, 2010, p. 96). In response to questions regarding how to improve upon the PBB process going forward, six participants indicated that including or adding performance measures in the PBB process would aid in aligning the priorities of a community with programmatic and services targets for achievement.

RESP 3: [PBB] begins to open the door to initiate good practices as a habit -- performance measurement and performance management...There are a lot of local governments that have gotten away from active performance measurement – performance management practice. Priority Based Budgeting opens the door for that performance practice to be reinstituted. Once you have a plan you already have the community aware of what the plan is -- you have to prove that it works. That’s performance measurement.

RESP 6: Until we do this one thing we won’t have completed the process - I would say focus on performance measures. So from my perspective the missing link in Priority Based Budgeting for our organization, what makes the circle complete and allows us to continue really successfully -- is that we don’t have in place a strong performance measures that are tied to Priority Based Budgeting result areas. And the consequence of that is we go through the process, scoring and evaluating all the programs and services based on their ability to achieve the results that we desired -- the community values. We aren’t measuring the effectiveness of our programs. And I think that’s a key thing.

RESP 7: I happen to not think that [PBB] goes far enough in terms of measuring the efficiency and effectiveness of programs and activities. I do think it’s an excellent tool for establishing priorities. Once we have this fully in place and we have all of our measures in place, we’re going to be looking at the measures on a quarterly basis. So myself and my deputy city managers, we’ll be sitting down with each of the departments on a quarterly basis. And we’re not going to look at everything. The departments will probably have hundreds of performance measures. But we’re going to look at certain key performance measures. And we’re going to report those on a dashboard or a graph. These quarterly performance reports – these are going to be part of a healthy budget. So, it will be updated on an annual basis - as part of our normal budget process.

RESP 5: Performance measurements were kind of something we had been thinking about. We were also concerned -- you compare yourself to other communities and benchmark yourself and try to see how well you are providing a service to make your decision. But it doesn’t tell you whether or not that program is important in the first place. You might be thinking it will be, but it doesn’t tell you whether or not it is good for your community. We felt like Priority Based Budgeting was good because it would help us understand what programs are most important and then we can start to work on creating performance measures to ensure we are providing those in an efficient manner.

RESP 11: Communities take the results of the citizen survey...and use those results in budget decisions and in tracking the success of their budget operation. They bring in survey results as performance measurements and hold departments responsible. [Community K] has used the surveying extensively in their budget process, as has Novi, Michigan.

RESP 20: Programs...being evaluated might over-promise or over-represent what they can do to accomplish the priority result. To address this potential moral hazard, create methods for making sure programs or offers deliver the results they were evaluated on. Many of our research participants anticipate using performance measures for this purpose.

In summary, PBB is transformative in that it changes how people communicate, think, work, and aspire towards greater achievements. PBB offers a strategic planning framework to create a transformational process that inspires government organizations to reach their prioritized results that are aligned with the core values of the government organization and/or community. 

PBB serves as an agent for organizational change in a political environment by engaging in dynamic conversations that focus on the community’s core values and sustainability as part of the government budgeting process. The Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB, n.d.) noted that the participation of citizens is a crucial part of the process of developing and assessing public service performance measures that are useful, relevant and understandable. The findings indicate that incorporating performance measures was seen as adding value to the PBB process by aligning the priorities of a community with programmatic and service targets for achievement.

How does PBB Connect with Existing Government Budgeting Process 

PBB is an emergent approach to the government budgeting process. A part of this study was to understand how the PBB process connects to existing approaches to government budgeting. The interview process inquired into the respondents’ perception of the connection between PBB and existing government budgeting processes. Participants were asked: How would you describe your budgeting process prior to implementing PBB? All of the participants indicated recognition that the traditional budgeting process was not sufficient to meet the needs of their organization. The earlier discussion presented in the findings addressed the motivation for adopting PBB. The findings in this section provide an analysis of perceptions of the pre-PBB budgeting process. Data analysis generated the category traditional budgeting process that is characterized by the properties of problem/crisis orientation and disconnected lines of communication.  

Traditional budgeting process. In response to the question asking for a description of their budgeting process prior to implementing PBB, each of the ten PBB practitioner communities identified a traditional approach to budgeting. Traditional government budgeting is defined as “a plan for the accomplishment of programs related to objectives and goals within a definite time period, including an estimate of resources required, together with an estimate of the resources available” (Smith & Lynch, 2004, p. 38). The traditional budgeting category emerged from the data and is characterized by the problem and crisis orientation property. 

The traditional governmental budgeting process is focused on problem-solving approaches that look for gaps and decisions that were incremental. The communications associated with traditional approaches to budget were disconnected and were often found to establish an exclusionary relationship with citizens, and limited interdepartmental interaction that fosters internal “silos” of isolated decision- making. 

According to the literature, local government leaders need to reject the perspective that government is the epicenter of a community and embrace emerging engagement strategies. This is accomplished when governmental organizations have: leadership that is less directive and more facilitative; conversations that are dialogues instead of monologues; a culture of collaboration and co-creation instead of merely customer service; sentiments of trust replacing distrust; and citizens that value ownership over entitlement (Huggins & Hilvert, 2013). The findings indicate that PBB moves away from the traditional government budgeting approach that focuses on problems while promoting collaboration and engagement strategies within government organizations.

Problem/crisis orientation. All 20 of the respondents acknowledged that a new tool for decision-making was needed as an alternative or to supplement the traditional government budgeting process, although the motivations ranged from needing long-term financial planning to seeking the best practice. A crisis or problem orientation is defined as when an organization’s internal dialogues are focused on threats, weaknesses, analyzing obstacles, resistance, and deficits (Whitney & Trosten-Bloom, 1999). Analysis identified the dimensions associated with the problem/crisis orientation property reflected the traditional budgeting process being focused on filling the gaps between revenues and expenditures and engaging in incremental decision-making.

Dimension: Looking for gaps. The traditional approaches to government budgeting frequently focused on inputs (resource levels), outputs (expenditures) and how to make budgetary cuts in order to fill the gap. Budgetary gaps or operating deficits exist when the expenditures exceed the incoming revenues. This results in depletion of the General Fund balance or reserves. The literature described looking for budgetary gaps as focusing on aligning organizational resources to bridge the shortfall between revenues and allocations (Government Finance Officers Association, 2005). 

Respondents from government organizations were asked to describe their pre-PBB budgeting process and what were their successful approaches to reaching agreement on budget decisions by
government decision-makers prior to PBB? Five respondents indicated that their traditional budgeting process was focused on problems and filling budgetary gaps. PBB focuses on outcomes and the impact programs and services have on the community. The findings indicated that the pre-PBB process was focused on identifying and eliminating any funding gaps, did not generally provide a collaborative approach to decision-making, and did not significantly align expenditures with strategic priorities.

RESP 10: The city manager refers to the previous process as “whining for dollars”. And each department puts forward the amount that they thought that they needed. But it really wasn’t clear what citizens would get for that. Within [PBB] - the focus is on budgeting by program and service; you clearly know what you’re funding and what taxpayers are getting for their tax dollars.

RESP 12: I think that it was very structured. But, I think that it was definitely...it wasn’t organized around what are goals were for mayor and council. It was more around...where the greatest need was within each department. Not necessarily taking it to that next level and connecting it to what we were truly trying to achieve – kind of the big picture.

RESP 9: My experience was...we as elected officials – when it was time to deal with the budget, we didn’t know what to do with it, what we were suppose to do with it, what were the right questions...There wasn’t really a good way to connect the goals that we were trying to achieve with the resources that we had at our disposal. So, our resource allocation decisions, I think, were less than ideal.

RESP 14: Our city manager at the time, used an approach that I’ve come to learn is not universal. And, that is...he basically posed the entire executive team – which is all the department heads plus him, and the city attorney – to come up with ways of bridging the shortfall. And, so, I know that one of the questions on your questionnaire was – where do we start? Well, typically what we do...we do projections for revenues and for expenses. Figure out what the delta is. Then focus on how are we going to bridge that shortfall...It is mostly focused on...what are we doing now. And, what we have money to do in the future. And, then figuring out how to bridge that.

RESP 4: No clear consensus on strategic priorities for the city. No clear prioritization process between programs. Process begins with across the board cuts.

Dimension: Incremental decisions. In response to questions about their pre-PBB budgeting process, eight of the respondents identified the deficit orientation of traditional budgeting reflected a process that minimized analytical effort and resulted in incremental decisions. According to the literature, incremental budget decisions are the allocation of public resources where the decision-makers are focused primarily on aggregated outputs and changes to the current year as the baseline (Reddick, 2007). 

The disadvantage of incremental decisions is that the approach holds no guarantee that these decisions, which are loosely linked, will work in concert to achieve the organization’s purpose or objectives (Quinn, 1980). The findings and literature indicate that incremental budget decisions often result in an across the board cut to all programs. PBB provides an alternative to traditional government budgeting’s incremental approach and provides a framework for resource allocation that is aligned with the outcomes achieved by prioritized programs and services.

RESP 19: In the first years of the recession, the necessary budget cuts were covered by making general across-the-board cuts—by asking all departments to share the burden and find excesses in their budgets. What most communities soon realized was that the reduced revenues they were experiencing were going to last for several years and that there were more sizeable cuts to come. Feeling that another round of across-the-board cuts would hurt key services like police, but not wanting to appear arbitrary when cutting other services, applying a systematic and transparent logic to their budget cuts was very appealing.

RESP 20: The traditional approach to governmental budgeting is incremental. The current year’s budget becomes the basis for the next year’s spending plan, and the majority of the organization’s analytical and political attention focuses on how to modify this year’s spending plan based on revenues anticipated in the next year. An incremental approach is workable, if suboptimal, in periods of reasonably stable expenditure and revenue growth because the current level of expenditures can be funded with relatively little controversy. However, the incremental approach to budgeting is not up to the financial challenges posed by the new normal of relatively flat or declining revenues, upward cost pressures from health care, pensions, and service demands, and persistent structural imbalances...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.

RESP 26: Annual budgeting was the “flavor of the week”. Used across the board cuts and Zero Based Budgeting.

RESP 5: It was just incremental – people would come in and kind of use last year as a starting point and say I don’t need this, but I need more of this or whatever. It was really more focused just on line items -- uniforms and copy paper and conferences and expenses. So, it was really line item driven...I would say that’s the one that sets the tone for it.

RESP 4: Before Priority Driven Budgeting, we had program budgeting -- where we broke our budget out into programs but it was really base budget focused. That whatever you got last year, plus inflation was your target and then people had to show what a ten percent cut would look like, or a five percent cut would look like. And council frequently imposing across the board cuts. So basically we were trying to get away from this race toward mediocrity that was happening with every single service getting cut proportionally...It was a biennial budget process and it was the program budget. But like I said the bigger programs. Programs were a more broader level, and we did use base budgeting.

RESP 2: After several years of different budget processes, one year we did a 5 to 10% across the board, we asked all our departments to give us 5 to 10% cuts. Obviously we were facing a lot of economic challenges, housing market decline, tax value decline, sales tax decline, property tax declines, everything was down. We were running about an annual $3 million structural imbalance in our general fund budget. One year we did a 5 to 10% reduction option.

RESP 8: We used to do incremental budgeting. So, you either got an increase incrementally or a decrease incrementally. Which we definitely recognized and realized that’s not the way to go. You’re not then focusing on your priorities. Some of your high priority programs are still being scaled backed, and some of your programs that are not high priority are also getting scaled back. ...Whereas before it was just well for lack of a better way to do, it was kind of just more across the board, which isn’t very effective.

RESP 14: One of the strengths of Priority Based Budgeting is...they point out that a 10% cut across all departments doesn’t really work, if you’re trying to meet the communities goals. Cause it doesn’t...a flat reduction doesn’t necessarily achieve the best results!

Disconnected lines of communication. All of the respondents made a cumulative 61 references to the need for improved communications in the government budgeting process. The communication-related dimensions that emerged from the data reflect (externally) a limited and exclusionary involvement of citizens and (internally) limited inter-department dialogues (silos)

Dimension: External communications - exclusionary citizen involvement. In response to questions about the pre-PBB budgeting process, seven of the respondents indicated the manner and degree to which citizens were involved in the budgetary process prior to the adoption of PBB was limited. The findings indicated a very limited number of public participants and the level of involvement by citizens was primarily through one- way information sharing by government leaders at the end of the budgeting process. 

The opportunity for citizen involvement in the pre-PBB budgeting process was most often the one-time public hearing at the end of the process, which negated the opportunity to have substantive impact based on their comments. The literature indicated that participation is “most beneficial when it occurs early in the process, and when it is two-way deliberative communication” (Ebdon & Franklin, 2004, p. 33).
RESP 3: Coming into City Hall, coming into council chambers, there’s the council up three feet on a dais. There’s this wall between you and them. They’re in the comfy chairs and you are in the hard chairs. You’ve got three minutes at the podium and then you’re done.

RESP 6: I would say that it was silent. And that the loudest voice was the one that was heard.

RESP 9: There were invited to the one public hearing. At which no one ever attended. We finally even tried one time putting it on an agenda as – like the landscape ordinance or a pet ordinance. You mess with people’s yards and pets and they come out of the woodwork. And, they came and spoke on that! But, nobody wanted to say anything about the budget. But, when you are talking about $50 million, it’s a lot of money. And, people are intimidated by that. And, just the way it is presented – it’s not very user friendly! You know, unless you are someone who is very comfortable doing that, there is no way that your would even know how to begin to ask the questions. Or begin to really have a role in it...from citizens and officials...no room in the budget for our ideas.

RESP 5: We engage and invite participation in our normal budget process every year through our normal study session meetings and city council meetings. [how many attended?] Very few. Probably less than five.

RESP 2: I always felt that one of the most important decisions every year is when the board sets the budget. We really wanted to try and find a way to gain credibility and trust in the community, that we weren’t just squandering tax payer money, we just want people to show up...in local government, it’s interesting how you have a board meeting, you need to talk about something that is not a small issue, but something that doesn’t touch everyone in the community it might be a water rate or a road project or a senior program, you can get a room packed with people advocating for something or hoping for something and it gets everyone riled up and then you have the budget hearing where you talk about over $100 million in tax payer funds and you get maybe one or two people...In the budget hearings in the past, if we had a handful of people that would be considered good, because hardly anybody showed up.

RESP 4: Before we were doing public hearings after the manager released the budget, before council passed the budget, there was a set of public hearings. And, the people had two minutes. And they would talk about their one item or the one issue they didn’t want cut. And then that was their citizen involvement. There were a few other opportunities for citizen engagement, but nothing like this wholesale.

RESP 11: The trick is to get the people to engage to give you their opinions...I’ve worked for local government and the staff always outnumbered the citizens when it came to a budget hearing. And it just seems intuitive that you would get better outcomes if you were more engaging of the opinions of the people that you are serving.

Dimension: Internal communication – silos. In describing internal communication prior to the adoption of PBB, four of the respondents made reference to decision-making within silos. The silo effect is encountered because these top-down decisions are made by high-level administration within each department. The literature defined silos within the organization as the situation where knowledge is mainly stored and archived in areas operated by individual agencies (Mergel, 2011). 

The findings indicated that the lack of transparency and collaboration across departmental boundaries makes it difficult to identify what department possesses the desired information. The data analysis indicated that the lack of substantive inter-departmental communications associated with the traditional budgeting process culminates in minimal purposeful, comprehensive evaluation of organization-wide priorities.

RESP 6: The greatest achievement we’ve had as an organization I believe is -- breaking down silos in the organization. We are a very decentralized organization. Very unusual in that way. And one of the negative aspects of that – there are many positive aspects of decentralization – but one of the negative aspects of that has been departments function very much in isolation. This program helped us to start conversing about how we do things as a city as a whole as an organization.

RESP 9: Pretty much, staff presented the budget. And, the council bought off on it, with minimal changes and minimal real substantive conversations.

RESP 4: So, even though we try not to operate in silos, it’s hard not to.

RESP 12: I think that it was very structured. But, I think that it was definitely...it wasn’t organized around what are goals were for mayor and council. It was more around...where the greatest need was within each department. Not necessarily taking it to that next level and connecting it to what we were truly trying to achieve – kind of the big picture.

In summary, the traditional government budgeting process has a problem and crisis orientation where reduction strategies may work in the short term to achieve balanced budgets. However, without incorporating a prioritization process into the budgetary decisions, the government leaders will most likely find themselves unprepared when it comes time to identifying how to strategically allocate resources when circumstances change and additional revenues become available. 

PBB provides a strategic approach to assessing the values and greatest needs of the citizens or prioritizing the allocation of resources to meet these needs. The traditional budgeting process offers cost cutting efforts and incremental decisions that may have the unintended consequences of crippling important programs and retaining programs and services that hold little value to the citizenry. The traditional budgeting process involves citizens primarily to inform and consult. PBB offers an opportunity for meaningful citizen engagement across a wide spectrum of communication platforms. 

The communication with the traditional budgeting process of government organizations is often crippled through insular decision-making and minimum dialogues that effectively incorporate a cross-section of the organization. PBB offers an appreciative, inclusive approach to budgetary decisions that are focused on values, priorities, and results.

Identification of Public Values Through Citizen Engagement in PBB Process 

A main focus of this study was to understand and explore how public values are identified through citizen engagement in the PBB process. One issue is that there is not a consensus in the literature on defining public values. In general, there are two schools of thought relative to defining public values: (1) as a generative process emerging from process of public debate and (2) an institutional viewpoint that reflects the attributes of government’s outputs (Davis & West, 2009). 

This study is more closely aligned with the first perspective of public values being generated through citizen engagement. A part of the study delved into what are successful approaches to engaging internal and external stakeholders in government budgeting. Participants were asked: How do you define public values? They were also asked what were the most successful approaches to engaging citizens and encouraging them to share the outcomes of the budget process that they valued most? Table 4.8 presents the coding summary of public values identified through citizen engagement in PBB. 
Q3: Coding Summary of Public Values Identified Through Citizen Engagement in PBB
RESEARCH QUESTION
CATEGORY
PROPERTIES
DIMENSIONS
How are public VALUES identified through citizen engagement in the PBB process
Creating Shared Sense of Community
Strategic Visioning
Defining Public Values
Sense of Community
Citizens Engagement in Identifying Vision/Values
Consensus Building
Trust
Public Trust
(responsiveness, accountability)
Staff Confidence
Elected Official Buy-In
Successful Approaches
Cross Section of Voices
Opportunity and Approach to Participation

Creating shared sense of community. Government entities serve numerous constituencies, including, citizens, nonprofit organizations, community agencies, other units of government, private enterprises, foundations, and non-citizens residents (foreign students, undocumented workers, and some imprisoned felons). The internal stakeholders include the elected officials, department heads and managers, employees, and contractors. In the traditional budgeting model, only the government elite – the elected officials and top administrators have determined the budget. Citizens have minimal opportunity for input. 

Benington (2009) asserts that public values are co-created when citizens are actively participating in democratic dialogue with their government leaders. Building a consensus to identify the vision and values of the community through stakeholder engagement, where a broad cross section of voices are heard in meaningful deliberative dialogue, aids in creating a shared sense of community. One of the challenges that government entities face is “how to frame the process in order to emphasize the role of citizens” (Soma & Vatn, 2010, p. 33) and facilitate dialogues that identify and align the most important public values with expenditures.

As part of the PBB process, local participants are asked what is most important to their community, what kind of community do we want, or what are the results that we want to see? Eight of the respondent’s responses from this research suggested that the strategic plan, vision, and/or mission statement provide a starting point for identifying budgetary priority results. This begins the dialogues towards building a shared vision and sense of community. 

Within PBB, priorities are expressed in terms of the results or outcomes that are of highest value to the public identified as part of a strategic visioning exercise. The creating a shared sense of community category is characterized by the properties: strategic visioning, trust, and inclusion.

Strategic visioning. Strategic visioning to engage a cross section of stakeholders, particularly citizens, provides a first step towards building a sense of community in identifying vision and values of the community. In the government sector, strategic vision involves strategy and visioning in long-term financial planning process that defines the future needs of the community, provides an opportunity to engage elected officials and the public in meaningful planning, and aligns finances with service levels (Kavanagh, 2013). PBB provides a process for strategic visioning. The dimensions of the strategic visioning process include defining public values, a sense of community, the citizen’s engagement identifying visions and values, and consensus building.

Dimension: Defining public values. In response to the question seeking a definition for public values, seven of the ten PBB practicing communities pointed out that it involved a sense of community and a shared vision. There is not a clear definition of public values in the literature. Public values are considered an appraisal of what the government creates on behalf of the public, which it serves (Moore, 1995; Nabatachi, 2012). The definition of public values includes it being a complex, relatively stable emotio-cognitive assessment that provide a normative consensus about “(a) the rights, benefits, and prerogatives to which citizens should (and should not) be entitled; (b) the obligations of citizens to society, the state, and one another; and (c) the principles on which governments and policies should be based” (Jorgensen & Bozeman, 2007, 13). 

Analysis revealed that the dimensions for the property inclusion were related to a cross section of voices and the opportunity and approach to participation. Figure 4.2 illustrates Jorgensen and Bozeman’s Structure of the Public Values Universe that conceptualizes public deliberation pointing the way to and contributing to public values.

The findings indicated that public values are a consensus about what people want for their community and what they expect from their government. A cross section of voices is needed to have meaningful dialogues to build consensus on what are the priorities and outcomes that are preferred. The PBB provides a process for engaging citizens, government officials and employees, and members of the society to identify public values.

RESP 12: Public values...the value to the public...we’re a service organization...we’re a city...we provide the basic services to our citizens. And, that, we have to determine what... provides the most value to our citizens.

RESP 3: Because people love their community. The desire to maintain communities is a strong public value.

RESP 9: I think public value is providing a good mix of services at a good tax burden for the citizens... public values – number one, I think that it can at best, maybe, reach some level of agreement. Everybody has a different set of values. I think in general, there are those broad values that we expect our governments to be ethical, legal and responsive and responsible and wise stewards of our resources...to achieve the outcomes that we agree on. Those lead into priorities. And, those are a little bit more difficult to ascertain sometimes. But, I think in those pubic values are transparency and accountability ...engagement, opportunities for public participation.

RESP 6: - in terms of city government and in terms of budgeting to me a public value is -what members of the community want their community to look like and feel like.

RESP 13: ...is the services they want and need from the city, and what they expect. If they feel they’re getting the services that they expect from us, they’re getting value from the city. So, I think the value – the simple things, like when they turn on the faucet, water comes out...and when they flush the toilet, that does what it needs to do. And when they come back in and have a question or need a police service or anything else, that they’re getting that service – they know what to expect from us.

Dimension: Sense of community. Building a sense of community fosters participation, encourages connections among residents in neighborhoods, and helps to resolve conflicts between groups. It is hard to encourage citizen engagement without a sense of community and it is even more challenging to foster a sense of community without citizen engagement (Svara & Denhardt, 2010). PBB, through citizen engagement, creates an opportunity for building a sense of community.

RESP 3: Government at the national level says, okay, we need to combine these five communities -- you are now one new one. Because that’s the only way we are going to get efficient. Now, when those types of changes have been tried in the U.S., in rare circumstances do they succeed...Now, they don’t are about the fact the larger communities can afford a Sheriff’s Department. They’ll say figure it out! But the community must say, there is nothing holding us together. So, “community” is a very big value that we’re seeing now in the public...I think there would be another value that maybe part of the community... is the desire to collaborate -- I know in some California communities that have been especially hard hit. And I think it was in Colorado, but I can’t remember the name of the community. There was a community where they couldn’t afford to mow the grass in the park or pick up the trash. What the citizen’s said was – we’ll do it! We’ll take turns going out and picking up trash and making sure the parks are clean, because we want parks. And so that collaboration -- citizens with local government -- is a strong value that is coming in to view.

Dimension: Citizen engagement in identifying vision and values. Three respondents noted that they have a process in place to engage citizens as part of developing the vision and values for their community. This study revealed that an essential component to a successful PBB process is a strategic planning process which links a shared vision for a preferred future to results oriented government budgeting. PBB provides a budgetary process, which through citizen engagement, aligns a community’s vision and values with the goals and priorities of the government budget decisions.

RESP 13: In the determination of those seven outcomes, that really came through our plan document that was ultimately approved by council called City Plan; that there is significant public outreach and engagement and it’s citizens voices that really determine those seven outcomes. And those seven outcomes have not changed – we get confirmation from council before each budget cycle. But honestly, as I’ve talked with other entities using BFO or PBB across the country, there is significant overlap of those outcomes from community to community.

RESP 4: Because we didn’t have, we don’t have a citywide mission, or vision, or values -- and so we didn’t have what you normally would have as a starting point for Priority Based Budgeting. Instead we went to the citizens to get that on the front end.

RESP 5: We had a community engagement forum recently. We had like 80 people there. I felt that was really good. It was more focused on the city’s vision and strategic goal of the city council. City council wanted feedback before they had their last strategic planning retreat to make sure we are still moving the community forward. And, that those strategic goals they have in place are still relevant to residents. That was what that event was held for. Was to gain feedback on those and make sure council is still moving in the right direction.

Dimension: Consensus building. It is indicated in the literature that although public values and preferences elicited through informed deliberation can help determine budget priorities and activity levels for public programs, this may require tradeoffs and consensus building (Blomquist, Newsome, & Stone, 2004). Workplace participation enables employees to sharpen their decision-making skills and cultivate their collaboration and consensus-building abilities (Svara & Denhardt, 2010).
PBB enables local governments to incorporate employees, citizens, and government leaders in the process of making decisions through collaboration at all stages of the budgetary decision-making process and reach consensus.

RESP 9: Public values...it can at best...reach some level of agreement. Everybody has a different set of values. I think in general, there are those broad values that we expect our governments to be ethical, legal and responsive and responsible and wise stewards of our resources...to achieve the outcomes that we agree on. Those lead into priorities. And, those are a little bit more difficult to ascertain sometimes. But, I think in those pubic values are transparency and accountability...engagement, opportunities for public participation.

RESP 1: I just was amazed what they were able to achieve in the four hours! And have everybody come to consensus. That, yes, these are the things that are important to us. And, here is a statement that we all agree that this statement means that – this heading. I was so impressed, how they were able to do that. [Community F] is a fairly significant sized organization. To pull all of those people together. And, end up with – here is what is important to us. Here is what we value. And, here are the statements that support that!

RESP 20: The process often starts with elected officials determining the key results. These frequently come from strategic plans or other documents the city council has adopted. To further develop the goals, to understand how they will look in action, city staff and citizens are often brought in to share their ideas. Depending on the resources of the organization, citizens are engaged through workshops, surveys and town hall meetings... Elected officials need to show consensus and support for priority-driven budgeting to make it through the challenges in the budget process that will inevitably occur. Ideally, at least one or two elected officials will be attracted to the philosophy so they can champion the idea with other officials.

In summary, public values are identified through citizen engagement as part of the PBB process by creating a shared sense of community. Public values are co-created between the citizens and their government leaders through deliberative dialogue as part of the strategic visioning effort to build a consensus to identify the vision and values of the community.

Trust. The decline of citizen trust in the public sector is well documented in the literature and is frequently related to the negative behavior of government officials, inefficient of ineffective government performance, or program/services outcomes not meeting the rising expectations of the public (Van de Walle, Van Roosbroek, & Bouckaert, 2008). The literature and the data indicated that “effective citizen engagement can foster a sense of community, engender trust, enhance creative problem-solving, and even increase the likelihood that citizens will support financial investments in community projects” (Svara & Denhardt, 2010, p. 5). 

Government entities can strengthen trust bybuilding collaborative relationships with citizens and groups and sharing information to elevate public discourse to promote a shared understanding of public issues (Bourgon, 2007). These interactions raise the level of trust, increase responsiveness, and give accountability. The findings indicated that in response to inquiries about what encouraged citizens, elected officials, and government staff to share and participate as part of the PBB process, six participants identified the importance of building a relationship of trust. The engagement of citizens, as well as internal stakeholders of the government organization, strengthens the accountability and responsiveness of government, which builds trust. The dimensions that emerged from the responses around the property of trust is built upon the dimensions of public trust, staff confidence, and elected official buy-in.

RESP 2: The community is saying, at least those that participated in this discussion ...Other than that I think we found that we were generally on the right path. Because we are responsive to the values and priorities that the community has established... what we are looking to do is validate, are we doing the right thing or not, are we missing something in the picture of the values the community has? We think we are, we are just aligning the resources in the right way.

RESP 9: We expect our governments to be ethical, legal and responsive and responsible and wise stewards of our resources...to achieve the outcomes that we agree on.

RESP 6: Having something like PBB in place...is helpful because it has built some trust in the community. They are a part of what we are doing. We’ve listened to them in what we are trying to achieve. And we are accountable to those areas in what we do and how we allocate our funding.

Dimension: Public trust. The PBB model builds trust and relationships, which further drives transparency (Middleton, 2013). Transparency about the local government’s finances and meaningful public involvement in understanding the financial challenges of the budget decision-making process promotes public trust and confidence. This furthers a better understanding about what programs and services citizens place the highest value (Institute for Local Government, 2013). 

The interview posed a question asking participants to define public values. Six respondents indicated that public values are related to public trust and is reflected in the citizens experiencing responsiveness and accountability from their government. This generates increased confidence in the government system and its leadership. The findings indicate that there is a relationship between trust and transparency. The responsiveness of government relates to reliability and professionalism that reflects actively listening and quickly reacting to the wishes expressed by citizens (Jorgensen & Bozeman, 2007). Similar to the relevant literature, PBB supports building public trust through the sharing of information and citizen engagement, which both fosters a culture of accountability and responsiveness in government.

RESP 20: Engagement is essential for democratic legitimacy. Giving stakeholders a clear understanding of their role in the process gives them greater confidence in the process and eases the transition.

RESP 14: [PBB] goes a long way to helping us be more transparent to the community. And, I think that helps us gain trust in the community. So, I think there is real public value.

RESP 19: A tool like PBB that makes decision-making more transparent and that specifically illuminates the kind of inefficiencies that distress citizens could be an appropriate answer to this distrust. The most frequent early outcome of PBB was better information. The potential of PBB to improve communication and transparency between citizens and government could impact revenue in two ways. Citizens who trust their governments might be more likely to vote for or support revenue measures.

RESP 3: The trust issue is a big value issue that has to be overcome on the citizens’ part...Priority Based Budgeting can give you an avenue for bringing transparency to develop trust within your organization, local government and also within the community that they see this happening. And then, of course, the product that comes out -- is something the entire community can be proud of in terms of we now know what our priorities are, we know what kind of community we want to be, we make the decisions and allow us to allocate our resources toward that end.

RESP 6: [PBB achieved] better trust of the citizenry. One of the things that’s going on right now in...is that they are engaging in a study of whether or not to municipalize the electric utility. And, to do that -- even to do the study -- whether or not we end up municipalizing the utility or not, requires a great deal of trust from the community.

RESP 14: When you’re talking about a more program basis, the goal there is to label things in a way that anybody in the community can understand. And, so it goes a long way to helping us be more transparent to the community. And, I think that helps us gain trust in the community. So, I think there is real public value in both of those things.
 
Dimension: Staff confidence. In response to questions about what is needed in order to successfully implement PBB, two major themes related to trust within the government organization emerged: building staff confidence in the process and eliciting support from the elected officials. PBB is often adopted in response to a fiscal crisis and many respondents have indicated that this raises concerns amongst employees about pending budgetary cuts and their job security. 

The literature and the data indicated that organizational processes that “facilitate realistic optimism and efficacy-building processes that elicit positives states and build employees’ confidence” reinforce the efforts to generate and implement plans focused on achieving the goals of the organization (Avey, Luthans, & Jensen, 2009, p. 687). Six participants indicated that PBB instills staff confidence by involving a cross section of employees in a peer review process to objectively review departmental programs. Three government leaders from PBB that had adopted PBB clearly indicated that even when a program or department is eliminated, the staff most often is retained and retrained for a higher priority program. PBB builds staff confidence within the government organization, by increasing the exchange of information across departments and minimizing the fear associated with losing one’s position in the effort to decrease cost and improve efficiencies.

RESP 20: Staff members who have experienced priority-driven budgeting say they support it because it gives them a greater degree of influence over their own destinies. Staff no longer passively awaits judgment from the budget office; instead, they create their own solutions because priority-driven budgeting invites them to articulate their relevance to the community.

RESP 14: So, it’s really designed to help you have better conversations at the staff level. And, then to be able to talk about the recommended changes to the council and to the community in a better way.

RESP 2: I really like the fact that departments were the ones that were scoring the process, in other words it wasn’t the board of finance team making cuts, things of which I’ve seen a lot of for many years. I’ve seen where you go -- I don’t like this program or I think there’s inefficiencies here, let’s go after that, it’s personalities, may be you don’t trust certain people so you can go after those things, it was more of a subjective process. We were looking for something that gave us the ability to objectively review programs, departments almost automatically had to buy into this because they were the ones ranking the programs...so that was a powerful process for us - building the trust. And in regard internal stakeholders, a peer review group. They had meetings. They had a balanced process. PBB gives them the ability to do reasonability checks.

RESP 4: The peer review process really got departments thinking about other departments’ budgets, programs, and services in a whole different way. They got a new found appreciation for the other departments programs and services.

RESP 7: In terms of conversation...you’re talking about increasing efficiencies and effectiveness, but people are concerned about achieving that through the loss of their own jobs, so you have to balance how you approach that with them. That is my commitment. You will not lose your job through this implementation. Your job may change! We may have to get you new skills. But you will not lose your job – period – end of discussion...if that affects your job, we’ll work with you. We’ll retrain you to do something else. This is not a job loss kind of program. This is a program that amps up our performance and takes us to the next level, not to show people the door.

RESP 8: So it just helped people to appreciate and understand kind of a little bit more about what other people did. It helped them to just make sure that when they saw their program falling out into some [lower] quartile, they knew that there was some fairness and some rigor that had gone through that. And that they didn’t say, oh well, the scoring is completely off. They realized that there was that level of independence and rigor.

RESP 5: Deciding who is involved, keeping our executive management team, like department directors engaged and on board with moving it forward. Nobody is against it. But some aren’t as gung ho as others. That makes it a little bit difficult sometimes. We took the approach that we wanted to get our mid-level managers involved in this process and although there is a challenge, it is beneficial. We had about 45 staff members from all departments that were involved in the process, whether that was program inventories or scoring. Most of them were involved primarily in the peer review process, that was a little tricky but it was nice because I think they learned a lot about the organization. They work in their department they do their thing. They don’t always know what other departments do. It helped them see and understand all the programs and services that we provide... I tried to have people on every peer review group from each department.

RESP 1: A big part of what we said is really critical to getting this process rolling is building trust; profiting from any information. We really tried to structure the initial conversation around --this is not used to cut programs. If you use it only to cut it sends a message to everyone that there is some threat, you shouldn’t share. We don’t want people to fear this in the organization or outside of the organization, what we trying to do is build trust among our employees, our directors, our officials and the Board and among the public -- of what PBB is and what it isn’t. We’ve been very careful and strategic about how we used it initially so that we can continue to build trust and momentum.

Dimension: Elected official buy-in. Eight respondents identified the importance of elected government leaders (mayor, city council, and county commission) being actively involved in the PBB process and serving as champions of this organizational change initiative. Buy-in from the elected officials was often accomplished by involving them beyond merely adopting the proposed budget, but engaging local elected officials, along with the administration, in all levels of the process to collaboratively identify priorities, evaluate programs, and align budgetary decisions.

RESP 17: Priority-driven budgeting represents a major shift from traditional budgeting methods. A clear understanding of the priority-driven budgeting philosophy should be in place before proceeding down this path, along with a strong level of support – especially from the CEO, whose role is normally to propose the budget, and, ideally, the governing board, whose role is to adopt the budget. 

RESP 20: The governing body and the chief executive must understand and support the process and communicate that support throughout the organization. In addition, these officials must be willing to carry out their decision-making responsibilities in a way that is consistent with a priority-driven process. Two groups in particular that must be recruited to support priority-driven budgeting – elected officials and senior staff. 

RESP 6: I think our biggest challenge initially came from council. They were – the majority of the council members supported it, but there was a minority that didn’t. That was a political battle that’s ongoing really. One thing I would say, we didn’t do as much maybe in council engagement as we could have initially... One thing that we haven’t done and may or may not work here...but could be something very interesting in other places -- would be to involve the council in that peer review team. That’s one way to help them get more engaged. 

RESP 12: In order to do that successfully, you absolutely have to have a mayor, city council, and city manager that are willing to do the process. And, they have to have clear goals and priorities. It is very important that we know what is important to mayor and council, so that we can achieve those goals -- through where we are putting the money, through our operations on the service side and also through our capital projects. And, that is one place, I think, we were in a really good place to start, in that we had buy-in very quickly from our elected officials. 

RESP 3: When you bring a structure like Priority Based Budgeting in --you provide a way for cover for politicians to say we want to do this because we want to get better at providing our services, that’s a great way to look at it. So, that was sort of the starting point that we thought was so great about this process, was giving opportunities for the political will to be exercised to engage in Priority Based Budgeting...Politicians have to be willing to do it. 

RESP 4: I think having council buy-in is key. Because, like I said the vice mayor, chair of the budget committee—said we wanted a new way of doing the budget. She also-- they ended up doing a motion, that all council members – well most signed -- that we had council buy-in. There were a few council members who were skeptical but you’ll find is -- they only had one or two reasons why. One, they think it’s too expensive...or they feel like they should be doing it themselves. 

Successful approaches. In analyzing the data from which the creating shared sense of community emerged, as part of the inquiry about how public values are identified through citizen engagement, the property successful approaches came forth. The literature and the data indicated that citizens are interested in having an active role in the their community and government and are seeking authentic opportunities to participate on a regular basis (Huggins & Hilvert, 2013). 

Participants were asked to share the information regarding their approach to citizen engagement as part of the PBB process, including how individuals were selected, the types of venues, the frequency, and the use of technology, including social media. Successful approaches to citizen engagement should “provide greater transparency and education about the budget and budget process and integrate residents’ ideas and recommendations into the local agencies’ budget decisions” (Institute for Local Government, 2008, p. 1). 

To first establish a broader perspective, participants were asked to describe their approach for citizen engagement prior to the adoption of the PBB process. All ten of the community’s involvement in the study indicated that they held public hearings, which is typically a minimum legal requirement. Four of the PBB practicing communities indicated that they conducted budget surveys, workshops, budget sessions with targeted audiences, and made information widely available at local establishments and online. The property successful approaches dimensions’ reflect approaches to citizen engagement sought to elicit a cross section of voices and the expanded opportunity / approach to participation when encouraging participation in the budgeting process. 

RESP 2: You have the budget hearing where you talk about over $100 million in tax payer funds and you get maybe one or two people. 

RESP 4: Before we were doing public hearings after the manager released the budget, before council passed the budget, there was a set of public hearings. And, the people had two minutes. And they would talk about their one item or the one issue they didn’t want cut. And then that was their citizen involvement.

RESP 8: We engage and invite participation in our normal budget process every year through our normal study session meetings and city council meetings.

RESP 9: There were invited to the one public hearing. At which no one ever attended.

RESP 12: We always tried to get citizens involved before city manager made any decisions. You have a budget survey, the budget workshops and then the budget briefings that involve citizens...the budget surveys...We have it online. But, we also put paper copies at every public print counter, at libraries and sanitation and all of that. And, then we also include a link. We have a list serve, where citizens can sign up and get different emails pushed to them. That is just another way of getting information to them. 
Dimension: Cross section of voices. In the traditional budgeting process, the decision-making is primarily in the hands of the budget staff with the elected officials playing a modest role in giving the final approval of the budget. In additional to the budget staff and elected officials, citizens may be engaged at various points and to various degrees in the budgetary decision- making process. This can vary widely depending on the resources of city staff and political climate of a community. Table 4.9
highlights the reasons and cautions for involving citizens in public deliberations:

Citizens in Public Deliberations
Reasons Supporting Engaging Citizens
 
Cautions When Engaging Citizens
�� Citizen involvement can increase legitimacy
�� Many governments currently lack the capacity to convene citizen deliberations using existing connections and networks
�� Citizen involvement can increase diversity
�� Citizens may be vulnerable to bias and manipulation and are less prone to challenge the conveners
�� Citizens tend to focus on shared and divergent values underlying a given policy choice
�� Deliberation between citizens tends to reiterate structural inequalities – members of marginalized groups may speak less
�� May be open to changing position based on learning and deliberation
�� Citizens may lack the commitment and ability to sustain activity beyond the formal space of the deliberation
�� Citizen deliberation can provide insight into the learning and change that is possible for a broader public.
�� Even citizens interested in acting together may lack the formal organizational capacity to do so in a sustained way with significant impact

There are advantages to gaining insight from a diverse representation of the community at-large. The challenges may include if the citizens are truly representative of the broader community and whether either the individuals or the organization have the capacity to sustain the engagement effort over an extended period of time. 
The respondents were questioned about who was invited to participate as part of the PBB process. Six of the responses indicated a purposeful effort in conjunction with implementing PBB budget prioritizing process to bring in a cross section of voices to the engage in meaningful dialogues. The findings indicate that the initial outreach was frequently to individuals and organizations that already had a relationship with the governmental body. 

RESP 6: The meeting in the box was very successful...We actually went out to the community and solicited some specific individuals who we knew were key players in the community in various areas and brought them in for a discussion. A facilitate discussion. That was also very successful. There were probably about 15 to 20 people. I think we had somewhere around 60 or so, in each of the community sessions. We had 3 open house sessions.

RESP 14: We started investing in community engagement in the late 1990s in a very intentional way. We used a number of processes with the community...so it was a natural for us to want to incorporate some kind of community engagement process in the Priority Based Budgeting. We decided that it would make sense to invite our community partners to come to meetings. People that already knew us. That we already had a relationship with. Those could be commissioners or nonprofits that we fund. Or people that have gone through city programs - that kind of thing. So, we started with them. Since we already knew them. And, basically, we invited them to come hear a budget presentation. And, then, develop an understanding of what we were facing. So, we figured we would began with people with whom we already had a relationship. Help the to understand the circumstances. And, then they could actually help us to get the word out! To others that they come into contact with. So, that when we came back to them later with these major changes it would be less shocking.

RESP 12: We always tried to get citizens involved before city manager made any decisions. You have a budget survey, the budget workshops and then the budget briefings that involve citizens...We do a combination. We have it online. But, we also put paper copies at every public print counter, at libraries and sanitation and all of that. And, then we also include a link. We have a list serve, where citizens can sign up and get different emails pushed to them. That is just another way of getting information to them.

RESP 4: With the citizen engagement we had 14 sessions planned. And all along the way we were reporting to council and getting their buy-in...the six of the 14 sessions were open to the public and they were put all around the city...so they were geographically spread out and at different times of the day too. And then the other 8 sessions were, like, focused --because we realize that not everyone comes to an open session to the public. We had one for community leaders and community councils, and one for people who are on boards and commissions. Then we had one for people who are...Housing Authority residents, lower income. And we had one for the United Way clients, people who benefit from United Way services. We had like one for small businesses, and then also the chamber - one for larger business. And they ended up having a consolidated report that said – this is what the citizens want to see out of [Community D]... And even though we only ended up having 240 people participate, because they were spread out geographically and different times and were focused, the diversity that we saw was very close to the diversity of the city as a whole. The 14 sessions there was totally – that was the whole point to take everyone’s needs and wishes and put them into...the community priorities. 
RESP 13: Every three years we do a citizens survey. We have those seven citizens that are deeply involved [on] the budget committee meeting, which we typically have two a year. We have some citizens that attend. Most are there just to listen, not usually a lot of citizens – it’s typically more staff than citizens in the audience. Even our managers are there to answer any questions the committee might have. We have a couple that try to keep an eye on it and ask some questions, but that’s the majority of the citizen involvement we have right now. It’s just started getting people to attend.

RESP 20: The need for transparency in the process cannot be emphasized enough – many organizations create a specific Web page to provide employees and citizens with regular and timely updates on the process as it unfolds. Involving key stakeholders – such as the Chamber of Commerce, labor union leaders, editorial staff from the media, and leaders of community groups and neighbor-hood groups – at appropriate stages in the process often provides the best form of informal communication to the rest of the public.

The literature indicates that participation is “most beneficial when it occurs early in the process, and when it is two-way deliberative communication” (Ebdon & Franklin, 2004, p. 33). All 20 of the respondents indicated that PBB provided for heightened internal communications and collaborations associated with adopting PBB when responding to the questions about the greatest successes experienced in association with PBB. 

The findings indicated that PBB is used by government leaders to engage citizens in deliberative dialogues. Deliberation is defined in the literature as exercises that emphasize: Learning through the exchange of perspectives among diverse parties (not one-by- one engagement, not focus groups or polling); a problem-solving orientation that wrestles with costs and tradeoffs (not just visioning or wish lists, but giving participants a sense of the real choices faced by policymakers); [and] the opportunity for participants to explore diverse emotional perspectives and personal experiences in a nonadversarial environment. (Kahane, Loptson, Herriman, & Hardy, 2013, p. 2)

Deliberative dialogues are key to public engagement by “enabling people to discuss the consequences, costs, and trade-offs” of public policy alternatives and creative decisions
(Heierbacher & NCDD, 2010, p. 1). The literature identifies seven core principles for
public engagement as presented in Table 4.10:

Core Principles for Public Engagement and PBB
Principle
Description
High Quality Engagement
What to Avoid
Careful Planning and Preparation
Through adequate and inclusive planning, ensure that the design, organization, and convening of the process serve both a clearly defined purpose and the needs of the participants
  • ��  Stakeholders, conveners, and process experts working together
  • ��  Hospital, accessible, functional environments and schedules
  • ��  Poor design, untrained organizers
  • ��  Excluding relevant stakeholder groups
  • ��  Inaccessible venues, inflexible schedules
Inclusion and Demographic Diversity
Equitably incorporate diverse people, voices, ideas, and information to lay the groundwork for quality outcomes and democratic legitimacy.
  • ��  Conveners and participants reflect demographic diversity of community
  • ��  Participants have equal status in discussions
  • ��  All views are respected, welcomed, heard, and responded to
  • ��  Token diversity
  • ��  Biased information is
    presented
  • ��  Expert testimony
    designed to move people in a specific direction
  • ��  Participants feel their interests / concerns are being ignored or marginalized.
Collaboration and Shared Purpose
Support and encourage participants, government and community institutions, and others to work together to advance the common good.
  • ��  Involves public officials, ‘ordinary people’, community leaders, other interested parties
  • ��  Discussions where differences are explored and a shared sense of a desired future emerges
  • ��  Government departments coordinate implementing agreed upon actions
  • ��  Unresponsive power- holders
  • ��  One-way pronouncements
  • ��  Patronizing experts and authorities
  • ��  Engagement has no chance to impact policy because relevant decisions have already been made
  • ��  Loud and mainstream voices drown out all others
  • ��  Involvement feels pointless to participants, lacks clear purpose, or link to action
Openness and Learning
Help all involved listen to each other, explore new ideas
�� Participants encouraged to share their views, listen,
�� Only going through the motions
�� Thereisa
 
unconstrained by predetermined outcomes, learn and apply information in ways that generate new options, and rigorously evaluate the process.
and be curious to learn about others and the issues
  • ��  Powerful questions and exploratory atmosphere to generate new understandings and discussions about possibilities
  • ��  Spirit of exploration innovation, and developing community capacity
predetermined
outcome
  • ��  Weak facilitation
  • ��  Assertive,
    mainstream, or officials voices dominate
  • ��  Available information is biased, overwhelming, or inaccessible
  • ��  Lack of time or inflexible process to adequately address complex issue
Transparency and Trust
Be clear and open about the process, and provide a public record of the organizers, sponsors, out-comes, and range of views and ideas expressed.
  • ��  Timely sharing relevant information, decisions, issues are shared with participants and the public
  • ��  Ongoing ability of public to access information, stay engaged, and contribute
  • ��  Inability to find out who was involved, what happened, or why
  • ��  Appearance of hidden agenda
Impact and Action
Ensure each participatory effort has real potential to make a difference, and that participants are aware of the potential.
  • ��  Evidence that engagement is meaningful, influences government decisions
  • ��  Reports on decisions / actions
  • ��  Diverse stakeholders understand and are moved to act on findings / recommendations
  • ��  Participants have no confidence of meaningful influence before, during, or after the engagement process
  • ��  No follow through
  • ��  Findings and
    recommendations are useless or represent a small segment
Sustained Engagement and Participatory Culture
Promote a culture of participation with programs and institutions that support ongoing quality public engagement.
  • ��  Engagement is linked to existing efforts and institutions (government, schools, social organizations)
  • ��  Participants have a sense of ownership / buy-in
  • ��  Engagement is one- time
  • ��  Privileged people dominate
  • ��  Ability of marginalized populations to meaningfully participate is undermined
As demonstrated in Table 4.10, the PBB process is used by government leaders to collaborate diversified voices in fostering a shared sense of a community, promote transparency and learning, and create an organizational culture of participatory decision- making and collaboration. PBB is used by government leaders to engage citizens. Citizen engagement in deliberative dialogue involves a diverse group of individuals sharing their perspectives and viewpoints. Deliberation moves towards the decision-making process and the action steps. Dialogue provides the groundwork for mutual trust and understanding that is the groundwork for deliberation (Heierbacher & NCDD, 2010).  

The findings indicated that effective citizen engagement, as part of the PBB process, meets all of the core principles of public engagement. It is noted in the literature and the data that in addition to individual residents, invitations to engage in budget-related deliberations may be extended to groups. The literature acknowledges that involving constituent groups requires more resources, however, it can ultimately produce more accurate information (Oettinger, 2011). Table 4.11 highlights the reasons and cautions for involving stakeholder representative groups in public deliberations: 
Stakeholder Groups in Public Deliberations
Reasons Supporting Engaging Stakeholder Groups
 
Cautions When Engaging Stakeholder Groups
�� Can provide an efficient route to engaging social and political diversity
�� Stakeholder selection may not capture the relevant diversity of views
�� Provide a publicly legitimate route to engaging social and political diversity relevant to an issue
�� Stakeholder selection is vulnerable to charges of bias and can compromise the public legitimacy of the process
�� May represent particular perspectives and interests more effectively than lay citizens
�� Stakeholders may tend toward strategic (self- interest) rather than deliberative interaction (common ground)
�� May influence and have power with decision- makers, administrators, and the broader political sphere
�� Powerful stakeholders may dominate
�� May be less likely than citizens to shift their position based on what is heard and learned in the deliberative process
�� Stakeholder involvement may challenge the capacity of less powerful and resourced groups

There are advantages to inviting stakeholder groups as part of the deliberative process, as this can be an efficient way to seek social and political diversity, however, a powerful stakeholder may dominate the discussion. Leveraging the advantages of involving individual citizens or stakeholder groups can be accomplished by either inviting both to the same deliberative sessions or holding separate deliberative processes based on the participants. According to the literature, deciding who to involve in public deliberations will vary by community, the purpose of the gathering, the community culture and history, and the design of the process (Kahane, Loptson, Herriman, & Hardy, 2013). The findings indicate that the citizen and stakeholder group engagement in the PBB process is successful across a wide spectrum of deliberation models. 

Dimension: Opportunity and approach to participation. Inclusive citizen engagement efforts provide for a broader demographic representation of participants. This higher level engagement expanded beyond public hearings or surveys and encompassed deeper dialogue. This presents multiple opportunities to move beyond merely being informed and towards participation and opportunities to interact with officials and share their vision for a preferred future. “There are a wide array of innovative new approaches to fostering deliberation between citizens and public officials in order to develop shared understandings and consensus in groups of differing sizes and in face- to-face and electronic settings” (Svara & Denhardt, 2010, p. 10). Table 4.12 presents an overview of approaches to citizen engagement and how the PBB process is used by local government organizations to effectively engage citizen as part of the budgeting process.
 
Exchanges with Citizens
Citizen Engagement
 
Inform
Consult
Include / Incorporate
Collaborate
Empower
Goal
Provide the public with balanced and objective information to assist them in understanding the problem, alternatives, opportunities, and/or solutions
Received and respond to resident comments, requests, and complaints. Obtain public feedback on analysis, alternatives and/or decisions.
Work directly with citizens throughout the process to ensure that public concerns and aspirations are consistently understood and considered by staff.
Partner with citizens in each aspect of the decision including the identification of issues, development of alternatives, choice of the preferred solution, and implementation.
Place final decision authority or problem-solving responsibilities in the hands of the citizens.
Citizen Engagement Tools
  • ��  Online poll / survey
  • ��  Public comment
    periods
  • ��  Public hearing
  • ��  Poster and
    media
    campaign
  • ��  Fact sheets
  • ��  Public meeting
  • ��  E- consultation
  • ��  Public comment
  • ��  Focus groups
  • ��  Surveys
�� Wikiplanning �� Workshops
�� Deliberative
polling
  • ��  Public engagement
  • ��  Online deliberation
  • ��  Deliberative democracy
  • ��  Citizen forums
  • ��  Multi- stakeholder negotiation
  • ��  Policy consensus
    process
  • ��  Citizen juries
  • ��  Ballots
  • ��  Delegated
    decisions
Additional Government related Engagement Tools with PBB process
  • ��  Interactive websites
  • ��  Facebook and social media sites
  • ��  Twitter
  • ��  Citizens Connect
  • ��  National
    Citizen Survey TM
  • ��  Open (cloud based) Town Hall TM
  • ��  Town Halls
  • ��  Kiosks
  • ��  City Hall
    Technology
    Labs
  • ��  Charrettes
  • ��  World Cafe
  • ��  Public Workshops
  • ��  Study Circles
  • ��  Advisory
    Committees
  • ��  Study Groups
�� Budget Committees
PBB Engagement Tools
   
  • ��  Meetingina Box
  • ��  Budget Challenge
  • ��  Strategy Maps
  • ��  Fiscal/Health
    Wellness Tool TM
  • ��  Program Inventory
  • ��  Program Scoring
  • ��  Result Maps
  • ��  Resource
    Allocation Tool TM
 

According to the literature, several elements need to be considered when determining how to design public participation and structure for meaningful deliberation in the budgeting process. The key elements to consider include the governmental environment, the design of the process, and the goals and outcomes that are driving the need for public participation. Table 4.13 presents a summary of the key elements to consider when designing citizen participation as part of the budgeting process.
Key Elements
Selection Considerations
Environment
�� Structure and form of government �� Political culture
�� Legal requirements
�� Population size and diversity
Process Design
  • ��  Timing
  • ��  Type of budget allocation (by program, earmarked funds, operating,
    capital)
  • ��  Participants (selection method, numbers, representativeness)
  • ��  Sincere preferences/willingness to pay
Goals and Outcomes
�� Reduce cynicism
�� Educate participants about the budget �� Gain support for budget proposals
�� Gather input for decision-making
�� Change resource allocation
�� Enhance trust
�� Create a sense of community

Ebdon and Franklin (2006) make several observations relative to citizen engagement in the budgeting process: communities with a council-manager form a government are more likely to solicit citizen engagement; population size may affect the participation; and cities with larger cities may have more participation. For the purpose of comparing the demographic data from the PBB practitioner communities with their findings, large communities will be considered those with populations exceeding 75,000, land mass exceeding 40 square miles, and/or the budgets for their combined funds (all funds) exceeding $500 million. Table 4.14 presents the comparisons with the findings from the research Ebdon and Franklin research.
 
Large PBB Communities and Citizen Engagement
City
State
Unit of Govt
Prof. Manager
Population > 75,000
Size > 40 sq. miles
Budget
> $500 million
Edmonton
Alberta, Canada
Province
X
X
X
X
Boulder
Colorado
City
X
X
   
Arvada
Colorado
City
X
X
   
Cincinnati
Ohio
City
X
X
X
X
Tualatin
Oregon
City
X
     
Chandler
Arizona
City
X
X
X
X
Douglas County
Nevada
County
X
 
X
 
Wheat Ridge
Colorado
City
X
     
Fort Collins
Colorado
City
X
X
X
 
Walnut Creek
California
City
X
     

Analysis of the demographic data from this study shows all ten of the PBB practitioner communities have a professional manager form of government. Six of the ten PBB communities have populations exceeding 75,000. Five of the ten PBB communities are over 40 square miles. Three of the PBB communities have total budgets exceeding $500 million. This study supports the Ebdon and Franklin study relative to communities with professional managers soliciting citizen engagement. The inclination of larger communities being more inclined to engage citizens in the budgeting process based on population, land mass, or larger budgets does not seem to hold true. The findings indicate that PBB is practiced in communities regardless of these factors.

All ten of the PBB practicing communities have some level of citizen engagement as part of the PBB process. Many of the PBB communities already have, or are moving towards, a wider array of communication vehicles and venues. These include hosted town halls, focus groups with targeted constituency groups, budget challenge exercises. Advances in media tools offer increased flexibility and more closely mimics dynamic conversations (Robertson, 2004). Increasingly technology and internet-based platforms are being utilized for citizen engagement, including the application of social media, interactive websites, live Twitter feeds, and national citizen survey instruments.

RESP 6: The community meeting in the box was very successful. We really helped people focus in a different way. Rather than coming to the table with a list of things that were important to them and sort of not thinking about anything else. They came to the table and were forced to think about the bigger picture and actually start in their own minds to prioritize things. Which helped them.

RESP 10: I think the important thing, and we found this in budgeting too, is that each different communication vehicle will reach different audiences. So, you can’t rely on just one. It’s really important to use a wide array of communication tools to get as wide of a citizen input as possible...there were town halls, there were online, there were events like at our performing arts center, where people could break into groups and use voting buttons for questions. People could submit stuff online, so there were numerous methodologies that were used. That was really driven out of our planning department.

RESP 12: The other thing we started doing the last two years, is what we called “Budget Connect”. And, it is where, through Facebook, Twitter, or phone calls, or coming right into the council chambers...however, you would want to do it. We have on our city channel 11...it is televised and a streaming web also. Where citizens, on the spot, can ask questions. And, the all the directors, the mayor and city manager – we’re all there. And, can respond immediately. We try to isolate based on different topics...you know – capital projects, neighborhoods. Whatever it might be. And, try to figure out where the citizens’ concerns lay. And, we incorporate that into our budget too.

RESP 2: This was an online survey. We partnered with Peak Democracy and took a budget challenge out to the community through online forums. Where citizens take factitious $500 and allocate it any way they wanted to. The strategic priorities or community results that were identified in the PBB process. So, you have $500 how much would you spend on the community versus well maintained infrastructure versus cultural heritage or economic vitality. That was really a powerful exercise. We had about 80 people in the community compared to the to the budget hearing, this was a pretty good response. We had it open for maybe a month-- for three or four weeks. In addition to that we did four public workshops where we went out into the community, invited them in and had computers there and said come in and we’ll help you fill this out for people who might not have a computer, or they sat there and did it on their own. We had it in the newspaper, we allowed people to do a manual handwritten survey if they wanted so. That was a month long effort to try to get citizen engagement.

RESP 3: In the Priority Based Budgeting, in some of the exercises that I’ve seen, or they’ll bring in people to a community center. Feed them, food is a wonderful thing. People love to gather in fellowship around foods. And, through the exercise here, it’s really local government that’s listening. Allowing people to talk. Post-it notes. All that other can of stuff that can really make people feel engaged... You’ll find there are a number of groups that are talking about technology, the technological approach -- like Peak Democracy. They have a great product. It’s sort of an crowdsourcing application where a community can post ideas, potential projects, they can ask questions like where to locate a dog park, in what location of the City, what do you think? What’s really nice about this engagement – it’s a Peak Democracy tool that limits the participation to those who are actually residents of the city.

RESP 4: We included a second round of public engagement through a web-based survey, in- person survey, and statistically valid mail survey to find out what is most important to residents and businesses. Electronic communication included email and Wiki/Facebook. There were 1,102 Wiki clicks, 228 clicks on Facebook, and 12 Tweets sent to 2,000 followers. The statistically validonline survey of a $100 budget challenge was mailed to a random sample of 3,000 to participate and test the strategy maps; 665 responses were received.

RESP 14: Community Conversation #1 [September/October 2009] – five workshops with 130 participants that developed a series of definitions for the goals. A second step of the community engagement process [November/December 2009] we set up computers in our technology lab at city hall – we have 20 computers. And, had invited the community to come in and invest $500 across the goals. And, then capture that information for the weighting part of the process, with 170 participants.

RESP 20: The City of Chesapeake, Virginia, recently asked citizens viewing a result- setting exercise on their public access channel to participate online and share their thoughts on “what does the city exist to provide.” Cities...set up kiosks in city facilities and asked citizens to participate in a brief survey that helped validate the city council’s established results and to weight the relative importance of those results to the community.

RESP 5: We are constantly doing design charrettes and community engagement forums for park projects or public works projects. So, we do a lot of those. But, those are generally handled at the department level. We encourage them. We definitely know it’s important to hear from our citizens and get their feedback on projects. Tend to get good feedback from our [annual citizen] surveys and good response rate. And, I think that any time you can go to them. One thing we haven’t done well on is using online forums and stuff like that. That’s something that we should do more of.

RESP 26: For citizen engagement, used Peak Democracy, budget challenge, advertised, news articles. Several workshops with computers – no one showed up. Online had a good response.

In summary, citizen engagement contributes to identifying the public values of the community. The traditional approaches to citizen involvement in the government budgeting process focus on one-way communications to inform or consult. Citizen engagement seeks more intensive two-way dialogues, deliberations, and collaborations. In engagement processes, participants “receive new information on the topic at hand and through discussion and deliberation jointly prioritize or agree on ideas and/or recommendations intended to inform the decisions of local officials” (Institute for Local Government, 2012, p. 2). 

Citizen engagement efforts should seek a diverse pool of participants that are reflective of the demographics of the community. The PBB process engages citizens successfully in deliberative dialogues about public values as part of the strategic visioning process that also includes the internal stakeholders of the government organization. Through citizen engagement, PBB supports creating a shared sense of community and builds trusting relationships.

Identification of Public Priorities Through Citizen Engagement in PBB Process 
The interview process inquired into the respondents’ perception of public priorities and how they are identified through citizen engagement as part of the PBB process. Participants were asked: How do you define public priorities? How were citizens encouraged to identify public priorities? Participants referred to a collaborative and participatory process in identifying strategic priorities. Table 4.15 presents the coding summary of how public priorities are identified through citizen engagement in the PBB process.

Q4: Coding Summary of Public Priorities Identified Through Citizen Engagement in PBB
RESEARCH QUESTION
CATEGORY
PROPERTIES
DIMENSIONS
How are public priorities identified through citizen engagement in the PBB process
Collaborative / Participatory Process
Participatory Budgeting
Defining Public Priorities
Identification of Strategic "Results"/Priorities
Valuing / Evaluating Government Programs Based on "Results"
Resource Alignment

Collaborative and participatory process. Engaging citizens in a collaborative and participatory process advances the ability for government organizations to identify the priorities for budgeting-decisions that are preferred by the community. Collaboration is the “ability of a government organization to solve controversial and complex problems depends both on its willingness to involve the public and its ability to conduct a public participation process” (Parr & Lampe, 1996, p. 194). 

The traditional budgeting process that is hierarchical in nature with limited citizen engagement is increasingly being replaced with decision-making that is collaborative with others to seek solutions and influence policy and budgetary choices. Gray and Wood (1991) define a collaboration process as “a process through which parties who see different aspects of a problem can constructively explore their differences and search for solutions that go beyond their own limited version of what is possible” (p. 4). Successful government collaborations must be able to bring people together from very different backgrounds and facilitate them working toward results despite their divergent values (Chrislip & Larson, 1994).

The literature describes a participatory process in government as one in which a diverse range of stakeholders are included, information is accessible and fully shared, and all voices are respected and given an equal opportunity to be heard (Booher, 2004). These collaborative and participatory undertakings culminate in consensus building, shared visioning, deliberative dialogues, and trust. Collaborative and participatory processes show that citizens are more satisfied when decision-making responsibilities are broadly shared (Chrislip & Larson, 1994). Participatory government requires both a commitment to open and accountable public processes and development of new skills of collaboration, facilitation, leadership, thoughtful listening, and problem-solving.

PBB provides a platform for citizen involvement in a collaborative and participatory process. The collaborative and participatory process category generated the participatory budgeting property. The data analysis revealed that the dimensions for this property were related to the defining public priorities, identification of strategic results/priorities, valuing government programs based on results, and resource alignment.

Participatory budgeting. Citizen participation in participatory budgeting processes empowers them to influence public policy and interject public priorities into the decision-making process. Shah (2007) provides an insightful definition of participatory budgeting. Participatory budgeting represents a direct-democracy approach to budgeting. It offers citizens at large an opportunity to learn about government operations and to deliberate, debate, and influence the allocation of public resources. It is a tool for educating, engaging, and empowering citizens and strengthening demand for good governance. The enhanced transparency and accountability that participatory budgeting creates can help reduce government inefficiency and curb clientelism, patronage, and corruption.

Participatory budgeting also strengthens inclusive governance by giving marginalized and excluded groups the opportunity to have their voices heard and to influence public decision-making vital to their interests. Done right, it has the potential to make governments more responsive to citizens’ needs and preferences and more accountable to them for performance in resource allocation and service delivery. In doing so, participatory budgeting can improve government performance and enhance the quality of democratic participation. (p. 1)

PBB is an approach to participatory budgeting that is built around a set of organizational strategic priorities that are similar to a well-designed mission statement, which answers the fundamental questions of why an organization exists (Kavanagh et al, 2010). Citizen engagement establishes a shared foundation and a platform for consensus building in the evaluation and prioritization of government programs and services. The property participatory budgeting is built upon the dimensions that reflect defining public priorities, valuing government programs based on prioritized results, and aligning the government resources with the priorities.

Dimension: Defining public priorities. This research explored how citizens are encouraged to identify public priorities as part of the PBB process. PBB applies its analytical tools, such as program scoring, for strategic priority setting. With PBB, priorities are defined as “a collaborative and evidenced based process, programs and services are ranked according to how well they align with the previously set priorities” (Middleton, 2013, p. 13). The government’s allocations are guided by this ranking. 

Public priorities are being defined as a ranking process to identify strategic priorities that incorporates the outcomes determined to be of higher importance by citizens. Participants were asked to offer their definition of public priorities. The fourteen responses shared may attributes in describing public priorities. Analysis of the responses indicates that public priorities reflect shared values that are representative of the community that are expressed in terms of the preferred outcomes or results of government programs and services. 

RESP 2: Public priorities are in terms of allocation of tax payer resources...where do they want to see the limited tax money that we collect and the various demands there are for that limited resource. Where do they really want to see that money invested, that’s the most important thing. It’s all important, when we shared in the process -- if there was anything that we are doing that has no value we wouldn’t be doing it. Everything we do has value to somebody! The question becomes what are the things that happen that is the most valuable to the most people. And then what are the things that have the least amount of value to the least amount of people. I think that’s the definition.

RESP 4: The communities input on what they depend on the city government – what they expect out of city government...every single program or service is in there because there’s a constituency, but the priority process helps you determine the relative weight – the ranking of those programs against each other.

RESP 5: A public priority is what’s most important to our citizens. We try to get that or try to understand it from direct feedback through citizen surveys. And then, like I said, we look to staff to provide insight on what public priorities are too. Because again sometimes you have a small minority that likes a specific program or service. But ultimately it’s not a priority for the entire community, so you have to make those tough choices as well.

RESP 6: public priority is that which takes greater importance than something else for the public....One of the highest priorities in my community is...protecting the image of the community as one that is inclusive and caring.

RESP 7: Public priorities are the broad categories, the broad areas that we need to work in. The strategic results that feed each of those priorities -- those are much more specific. Those are specific things we have to do -- to know that we are being successful in achieving what we want to do in the priority area. So, in terms of PBB, I see the “results” as the ongoing, real stable element. And, the priority may end up changing every year.

RESP 11: there are so many needs out in the community. We need to prioritize based on where can provide the greatest impact to the public. So, where it benefits more than just a few. Because our resources are so limited. We really have to make sure that what we are doing is benefitting many.

RESP 13: It’s when an individual or member of the public...what is the most important things that they want from your city government. You know whether it’s you’re a safe community, or good utilities, or good roads. And what are their priorities is going to change and each individual is going have a different set of priorities. But I would venture, the majority - if we ask all our citizens – would be mostly the same ones, looking at most of the same ones at the top two or three. No matter if it’s a small government in Florida or a big government like Cincinnati, OH or San Jose, CA, -- the core values and priorities are the same – it’s just how they went about doing them.

RESP 14: It is what the community thinks is the most important services for city government to be providing to them. And, to...and it may or may not be the same as the city organization would define...basically, how does the governmental organization spend the dollars that does not match what the community is saying that it wants?

RESP 19: One of the benefits of developing strategy maps is that local governments can give citizens a more precise description of the results that make local government relevant. This will establish a shared foundation, a common context for evaluating and prioritizing the programs and services the jurisdiction offers. A service’s relative priority can be evaluated only through a common belief about the results local government is striving to achieve.

RESP 20: Priority-driven budgeting is built around a set of organizational strategic priorities. These priorities are similar to a well-designed mission statement in that they capture the fundamental purposes for which the organization exists and are broad enough to have staying power from year to year. A critical departure from a mission statement is that the priorities should be expressed in terms of the results or outcomes that are of value to the public. These results should be specific enough to be meaningful and measurable, but not so specific as to say how the result or outcome will be achieved or become outmoded after a short time. A strategic plan, vision, and/or mission statement can serve as the ideal starting point for identifying the priority results.

Dimension: Identification of strategic results/priorities. Although a strategic plan, vision, and/or mission statement provides a starting point for identifying budgetary priority results, PBB priorities are expressed in terms of the results or outcomes that are of value to the public. PBB identifies measurable results as a set of priorities expressed in terms that are of value to citizens and a wide consensus between elected officials, staff, and the public (Oettinger, 2011). 

The PBB process incorporates result maps and strategy maps as an effective communication tool to describe the results from local government programs and services that are most relevant. The first stage in the PBB process is to identify strategic priorities for the government organization through a process that often engages the public in focus groups, open public meetings, and web-based interactive platforms. The strategic priorities are identified to discern what programs and services citizens feel are most important for government to provide. The second stage is to define “strategy maps” that demonstrate the strategies that the government body can implement to achieve the strategic priorities developed through the community input (Johnson & Fabian, 2013a).

Citizen engagement is considered a critical component in developing the priorities and strategy. Strategy maps (also referred as result maps) help the government organization achieve clarity about what it seeks to accomplish. Kavanagh, Johnson and Fabian (2010), p. 10) define a strategy map as a way to:...provide a simple and visual way to take a complex and potentially ambiguous objective – like achieving a safe community – and creating a picture, or map, of how that objective can be achieved...strategy maps provide an effective way for an organization to achieve clarity about what it aims to accomplish with its results. Strategy maps should be developed using cross- functional teams. Teams consist primarily of staff (both with subject matter expertise relating to the priority result and without), but they can also include elected officials and citizens. (p. 12)

As an example, in 2010, the City of Wheat Ridge held a citizen’s summit as part of their strategic planning process. The citizens were involved in identifying the value- based principles that described the preferred future in 15 years (vision); strategic goals that focused on outcome-based objectives and potential actions for five years (plan); a one-year work program and policy agenda for the mayor, commission, and staff for major projects (execution); the principles that define the city government’s responsibilities and frame the primary/core services (mission); and the personal values that helped to define the performance standards and expectations (core beliefs).  

The study participants were asked to describe citizen engagement as an element within the PBB process to identify prioritized results. The responses revealed multiple points of opportunity for citizen engagement in identifying priorities/results. It was challenging to analyze and summarize the responses because the different communities do not share the same terminology. Ten of the respondents indicated that their experience with citizen engagement in identifying priorities is through survey; five mentioned the meeting in a box with a budget challenge scenario; five mentioned workshops; and one that citizens participated on the team to determine outcomes.
RESP 5: A public priority is what’s most important to our citizens. We try to get that or try to understand it from direct feedback through citizen surveys...There was a community survey. We actually do community surveys pretty regularly – we use the community survey to help us gather information from citizens on what their priorities were. And went through what we get a “meeting in a box” method. You invite people form the community to come in and ask them a series of questions. One of the tools that we used there was you have $100, kind of a game. And here are the things you can spend it on. How much are you going to put where? That allowed us to go through that series and gathered the information from that and then we started to define again through that process, through the survey, through conversations with the directors and conversations with council -- we made a draft round of what we thought the communities priorities were.

RESP 14: The way that we ended up doing it was that we held some community workshops – shared what we were calling the goals - the 6 goals with them. Also, shared with them, what we were looking at in terms of budget shortfalls. And then, asked them to define what that goal – so for example, a safe community – what that goal means to them. And, we used the results of these workshops to come up with a set of 4 to 6 bullet points – that were definitions for each of the goals. A second step of the community engagement process – we set up computers in our technology lab at city hall – we have 20 computers. And, had invited the community to come in and invest $500 across the goals. And, then capture that information for the weighting part of the process.

RESP 2: We have defined it in terms of “strategic priorities”, like what the priorities of the public are...through that Budget Challenge; the Board had established six areas, after five or six years of strategic planning, we had six strategic priorities, safe community, infrastructure, financial stability, managed growth and development, economic vitality and natural environment...We partnered with Peak Democracy and took a budget challenge out to the community through online forums. Where citizens take factitious $500 and allocate it any way they wanted to. The strategic priorities or community results that were identified in the PBB process. So, you have $500 how much would you spend on the community versus well maintained infrastructure versus cultural heritage or economic vitality. That was really a powerful exercise. We had about 80 people in the community compared to the to the budget hearing, this was a pretty good response. We had it open for maybe a month-- for three or four weeks. In addition to that we did four public workshops where we went out into the community, invited them in and had computers there and said come in and we’ll help you fill this out for people who might not have a computer, or they sat there and did it on their own. We had it in the newspaper, we allowed people to do a manual handwritten survey if they wanted so. That was a month long effort to try to get citizen engagement.

RESP 4: The citizens were heavily involved in this front end on the city priorities and the strategy map development...Citizens were also asked to rank the community-oriented Strategic Priorities. In the survey, each resident was given a total of $100 to spend on city services. The respondent could spend the $100 on any combination of five categories, with more money representing a higher priority. The consultants then measured the number of respondents who spent money towards a service and how much money was spent. This allowed [our community] to quantify public sentiment and move forward on a budget process that was representative of the wants of the population. All surveys validated the Strategic Priorities and ranked them in the same order of importance. --- Because we didn’t have, we don’t have a citywide mission, or vision, or values -- and so we didn’t have what you normally would have as a starting point for Priority Based Budgeting. Instead we went to the citizens to get that on the front end...with the citizen engagement we had 14 sessions planned. And all along the way we were reporting to council and getting their buy-in. We had to come up with a system engagement plan before we even did it. So we had, the six of the 14 sessions were open to the public and they were put all around the city, you know what I mean, so they were geographically diverse.

RESP 5: There was a community survey. We actually do community surveys pretty regularly – we use the community survey to help us gather information from citizens on what their prioritieswere. And went through what we get a “meeting in a box” method. You invite people form the community to come in and ask them a series of questions. One of the tools that we used there was you have $100, kind of a game. And here are the things you can spend it on. How much are you going to put where?

RESP 6: Through the survey, through conversations with the directors and conversations with council -- we made a draft round of what we thought the community’s priorities were. Then we took that back out to basically open houses for citizens to come and speak and us. And went through a series of exercises there in which we tried to get help, in small groups. That was facilitated by Jon and Chris [CPBB] and by city staff. Just letting the citizens say what they thought what their priorities were and trying to refine the draft ones we had come up with. As a result of that we drafted what we called the “results” of the city and refined them and sort of cleaned them up over the last several years...while we didn’t engage the citizens directly in the formulation of the strategic results - we factored in citizen input from our citizen survey and from other ways of gaining an understanding of citizen input.

RESP 10: There was the addition of citizens onto the teams that evaluate each of the outcome areas. We just did in this most recent cycle, and that was a huge success. In fact, we’re looking to have two citizens on each of our seven teams in the next cycle. Citizens ask really great questions that we otherwise would not have thought to ask. And so we’ve had a lot of learning’s from that, and it’s been really helpful by involving not only the departments and the administration and the elected officials, but also the citizens in the conversations about the priorities, that you end up with a better end product.

RESP 3: You begin to involve citizens in that assessment, quality surveys...we are connected with a group called the National Research Center...that offers the National Citizen Surveys. We have a lot of communities that take that survey and implement it in their community to find out what people are thinking about our services. So, you’ve got all this information. You are beginning to evaluate what it is you are doing on the spectrum of quality and value and desire and costs. And so there’s a context that is verifiable, measureable, and it’s in a way objective. You can start making a comparison about what really is a priority and how well it will be delivered...In the Priority Based Budgeting, in some of the exercises that I’ve seen, or they’ll bring in people to a community center...And, through the exercise...it’s really local government that’s listening. Allowing people to talk.

RESP 7: While we didn’t engage the citizens directly in the formulation of the strategic results - we factored in citizen input from our citizen survey and from other ways of gaining an understanding of citizen input.

RESP 13: Every three years we do a citizens survey. We get pretty high marks in a lot of our areas. And most all of our areas we’re providing the services that they want and need, and expect from us. We have a mandatory budget committee and so there are – the budget committee is made up of the city council and an equal number of citizen members. So we have a seven member mayor and council and then we have an additional seven citizen members. So their role is to – we bring them the proposed budget. And their role is to look through it, ask questions and they approve the budget. And then we take that, their committee approved budget, to the council for adoption before the end of the fiscal year.

The Oettinger (2011) study of twelve PBB practicing communities supported the literature indicating it is beneficial to involve citizens earlier in the budgeting process. Oettinger posits that developing the priorities might also be a good place to involve citizens. Some communities have used traditional means of doing this, such as citizen surveys, focus groups, and town hall meetings to engage citizens in helping establish the expected results for their community. Others are being innovative. 

The Oettinger study noted that citizens and community stakeholders needed to be involved in defining the priority results. The rationale was that the city’s priority results would be legitimate only if community members were responsible for establishing the results and their definitions. In the Oettinger study, one of the cities reached out to the community on the radio, in the newspaper, and through the city’s newsletters and Web site to invite any citizen to participate in one of several town hall meetings. At the meeting, citizens were asked to submit answers to the question: “When [city] is _____________, then they achieve the result the citizen are focused on.” The response from citizens was tremendous and generated a host of answers. City government staff members who participated in the meetings were then responsible for summarizing the citizen’s responses by developing strategy maps.

The findings based on the literature and the data reflected that PBB, through citizen engagement, identifies priorities expressed in terms of the results or outcomes that are of value to the public. PBB provides a framework to clearly define prioritized results and link programs with the allocation of resources as part of a collaborative and participatory budgeting process (Johnson & Fabian, 2013a).

Dimension: Valuing / evaluating government programs based on “results”. The PBB model identifies clearly defined results or priorities. PBB enables accurately prioritized programs to reflect the organization’s stated objectives can provide a comprehensive identification of the results it is in business to achieve (Johnson  Fabian, 2013a). This provides a government organization with an approach to more accurately value a program based on its relevance and influence on achieving that result or priority. Program scoring, within PBB, is the process applied in this evaluation process to determine if the program has a critical or essential role in achieving the result. 

The basic program attributes that are evaluated may include determining if the program is mandated, the reliance on the municipality to provide the program, the ability to recover the costs of the program, changing demand for the program, and the portion of the community that is served by the program. All of the respondents acknowledged that PBB provides a process for valuing government programs and services through a ranking or prioritization process.

In summary, when defining the public priority, the government organization needs to consider whether some results might be more important than others. This could have an impact on how programs are valued and prioritized. As part of a collaborative and participatory budgeting process, elected officials, staff, and/or citizens can participate in ranking exercises, where each participant is given a quantity of “votes” (or dollars, or points, etc.) and can allocate their votes among all the priority results to indicate the relative value of one result versus another. Through such a ranking, participants, particularly citizens, can express that certain results (and therefore the programs that eventually influence these results) may have greater relevance to the community than others. (Kavanagh et al, 2010, p. 10)

RESP 4: The communities input on what they depend on...what they expect out of city government...every single program or service is in there because there’s a constituency, but the priority process helps you determine the relative weight – the ranking of those programs against each other.

Dimension: Resource alignment. PBB aligns budgetary decisions with strategic goals. PBB provides a mechanism to allocate government resources based on the prioritized programs and services that the community values. The findings from this study supports the perspective of the Center for Priority Based Budgeting (2014) that indicates that PBB helps government entities to prioritize services, question past patterns of spending, define public priorities, provide transparency of service impacts, and provide accountability for the results. 
Priority Based Budgeting is a unique and innovative approach being used by local governments across the Country to match available resources with community priorities, provide information to elected officials that lead to better informed decisions, meaningfully engage citizens in the budgeting process and, finally, escape the traditional routine of basing "new" budgets on revisions to the "old" budget. This holistic approach helps to provide elected officials and other decision-makers with a "new lens" through which to frame better-informed financial and budgeting decisions and helps ensure that a community is able to identify and preserve those programs and services that are most highly valued. (Fabian, 2014, para. 8)

PBB provides government leaders with new decision-making tools for financial literacy and transparency. A recent Governing magazine article identified financial illiteracy as one of government’s biggest and least discussed problem in the public sector. This is due to the failure of government officials to substantively understand the implications of financial decisions. It is widely recognized that the sheer volume of financial data can be overwhelming (Farmer, 2014). PBB equips government leaders, being staff and elected officials, to be financial stewards that make data-driven budgetary decisions. Government leaders, by engaging citizens in dynamic conversations and providing fiscal information that is transparently communicated can evaluate government programs based on the results. PBB is a precursor to meaningful citizen engagement.  

PBB - Citizen Engagement and Transformation

The categories, properties and dimensions presented reflect the analysis of the literature and the data that emerged from the responses. The PBB process has been found to be an effective tool in engaging citizens, identifying public values and priorities, and reframing dialogues to provide guidance for prioritized budget decisions. 

This study provided richer understanding of the PBB process and in what ways it reframed dialogues and focus on values and priorities to provide guidance for government budgeting decisions. By engaging a cross-section of citizens in deliberative dialogues, PBB creates a shared sense of community, builds trust, and provides transparency in the sharing of information. PBB serves as a catalyst for changing the government budget paradigm from one that is based on exclusivity, incremental decision- making processes, and has disconnected lines of communication. Table 4.16 presents the transformation associated with the PBB process in comparison with traditional government budgeting approaches.

Transformation – Traditional Budgeting and PBB
Transformation
Traditional Budgeting
PBB
Organizational
Deficit based
Strengths-based
Factional community
Sense of shared community
Government is Epic Center
Government is subset of the community
Entitlement
Ownership
Fosters disengagement and hostility
Improves civility
Lack of strategic vision
Focus on shared vision, goals, and purpose of government
Bureaucratic
Collective voice
Hierarchal governance
Shared governance
Detached from ordinary citizens
Inclusive of ordinary citizens
 
Silos, fragmented departmental decisions
Whole system engagement: external and external stakeholders
Vision/Values: Government elite (elected officials and top administration)
Vision/Values: all stakeholders, including citizens, employees, and nongovernment organizations
Lack of public trust
Public trust
Status quo
Civic innovation (collaboration, engagement, technology)
Narrow, short-term planning
Long-term financial planning
Dysfunctional governance: mutual distrust, lack of cooperation/respect between elected leaders and staff
Healthy governance: collaborative interactions, mutual trust, consensus decision-making, openness
Isolated
Public / Private partnerships
Rule driven
Mission driven
 
Process and Procedures
Customer service
Collaborative, co-creation
Institutionalized spending patterns
Examine legal mandates, existing policies, procedures, and programs
Budget input: Public hearing with nominal citizen participation
Budget input: authentic and expanded opportunities to participate
Problem oriented
Aspiration focused
Incremental budgetary decisions; “across the board cuts”
Priority based budgetary decisions; Strategic
Reactive, “cure”
Proactive, anticipatory, “prevention”
Linear, sequential
Continuous improvement
Inadequate information for rationale decision-making
Data-driven, rational decision-making
Deficit spending
Incorporate reserve policy as part of budget
Build up costs – make cuts difficult
Linked – expenditures to results/priorities; improve links between results and services; facilitate dept. cooperation
Hidden or unnecessary costs
Identifies efficiencies - validate offers or find better choices
Cuts or taxes - Choose to cut services or raise taxes, and get blamed (or blame someone else)
Help determine priorities - Choose the best offers in order to get the most results for citizens based on public values
Inputs oriented
Results oriented
 
Communication
Directive
Facilitative leadership
Monologue
Dialogue
Loudest voice is heard
Diversity of viewpoints and backgrounds
Limited participation
Open access
Downward communication
Interdepartmental; inclusive of elected officials, citizens, and non-government organizations in dynamic conversations
Citizens Involvement: Inform, Consult
Citizen Engagement: Include, Collaborate
Information guarded
Transparent
Debate what to cut
Debate how to get better results; capacity building partnerships
Non-responsive; one-way communication
Responsive; government is listening, learning, and working with citizens

Emergent Themes

When exploring the PBB process to understand the PBB process and how it is
used by local government leaders to engage citizens, several themes emerged inductively
from the responses. The three most prevalent themes were centered on public values,
civic innovation, and transformation of the government organization’s culture. These
emergent themes point to PBB reframing dialogues to focus on values and priorities,
engaging citizens in dynamic interactions, and facilitates budgetary decision-making that
aligns resource the outcomes/results that have the highest priority. Table 4.17 presents a
summary of the emergent them and selected responses relative to public values:

Emergent Theme from Respondents – Public Values
Theme
Selected Response
Public Values
RESP 20: [PBB] started to align values to spending with more information on how programs contributed to results.
RESP 6: We went to the process of trying to identify the community priorities or values, what we called the “results” that we were trying to achieve... PBB is being used as the community identified values.
RESP 1: ...end up with – here is what is important to us. Here is what we value.
RESP 3: Trust and transparency are the two big values. And then the sense of community.
RESP 2: The community is saying, at least those that participated in this discussion...we found that we were generally on the right path. Because we are responsive to the values and priorities that the community has established.

The findings indicate that the PBB process reframes dialogues to transform the values and priorities of citizens and government leaders into budgetary decisions. PBB incorporates citizen engagement and collaborative conversations, which are then leveraged to contribute to the identification of priorities that reflect the values of the community. Table 4.18 presents a summary of the emergent theme and selected responses relative to civic innovation:

Emergent Theme from Respondents – Civic Innovation
Theme
Selected Response
Civic Innovation
RESP 9: What PBB does, is as a tool – it allows a dynamic conversation.
��
RESP 1: New tools and resource that are easier to understand than the traditional line item budget for our elected officials.
RESP 10: I think the important thing, and we found this in budgeting too, is that each different communication vehicle will reach different audiences. So, you can’t rely on just one. It’s really important to use a wide array of communication tools to get as wide of a citizen input as possible...there were town halls, there were online, there were events like at our performing arts center, where people could break into groups and use voting buttons for questions. People could submit stuff online, so there were numerous methodologies that were used.
RESP 12: The other thing we started doing the last two years, is what we called “Budget Connect”. And, it is where, through Facebook, Twitter, or phone calls, or coming right into the council chambers...however, you would want to do it. We have on our city channel 11...it is televised and a streaming web also. Where citizens, on the spot, can ask questions. And, the all the directors, the mayor and city manager – we’re all there. And, can respond immediately. We try to isolate based on different topics...you know – capital projects, neighborhoods.

The findings indicate that there is a paradigm shift in the government budgeting and prioritization process in which there is an expanded platform for public policy and decision- making that is characterized by internal collaboration, external citizen engagement, and the abundant use of technology to expand the opportunities for dynamic interaction through social media, the internet, and web-based platforms.

The findings also indicate that the PBB model is a catalyst for civic engagement in dynamic conversations and positive approaches to changes in organization culture and community building. Table 4.19 presents a summary of the emergent theme and selected
responses relative to transformation:

Emergent Theme from Respondents – Transformation
Transformation
RESP 3: The whole concept of Priority Based Budgeting is more than just generating this year’s fiscal budget. It is a way of holistically looking at how we are building communities and how we are financing the construction and maintenance of that community.
RESP 4: Council frequently imposing across the board cuts. So basically we were trying to get away from this race toward mediocrity that was happening with every single service getting cut proportionally and really have city council focus on, okay, what are our priorities and so, really we were trying to get them to understand that even though... every city service and program in the city budget is there for a reason -- there’s a constituency -- they’re not all equally important.
RESP 8: And, we did actually have departments say; you know what, when we were going through and scoring our program, we had some of the best dialogue we have ever had about that program!
RESP 9: So, I really think that it just changes conversations. And, make them meaningful and relevant to what the community the community is really looking at, and looking for, and expecting out of their government.

Summary of the Findings 

The findings of the study sought to explore and understand the PBB process and how it can be used by local government leaders to effectively to engage citizens in identifying public values and priorities and to discover in what ways the PBB process reframes dialogues to provide guidance for budget decisions. The emergence of categories, properties, and dimensions in the data supports the relevance to this study. The intent of this study was to build a framework that is derived from the findings relative to the incorporation of public values and citizen engagement in the PBB process to identify government budgeting priorities. These findings inform government organizations and the PBB practitioner communities about the reframed dialogues to strategically align government with public expenditures with public values and priorities. 

The meaning and importance of Dr. Sheryl Mitchell’s doctoral thesis can not be understated. Through her meticulous research, she has brought validity to the belief and the hope of organizations hungry for the promise of Priority Based Budgeting, but needing that persuasive PROOF to completely embrace it. 

And this isn’t the first or only documented proof; it further solidifies the case made in Jessie Oettinger’s thesis, and Natasha Middleton’s thesis, the first explorers who’s research began to capture the evidence for PBB.  Nor will Dr. Mitchell’s work be the last account of proof of the radical transformations taking place in communities implementing PBB – by virtue of her paper, it is as if she’s opened a window for others to see through toward the possibilities open to every organization. Or, in other words, she’s offered a lens for others to see through too, and to be inspired by what they see.

We are so excited by Dr. Mitchell’s breakthrough research, that we’re happy to announce that she will be speaking at the 2014 Priority Based Budgeting Conference in Denver, Colorado August 5-7th. For beyond a profound vision, supported by proof, what every great mission also needs is the ability to spread the message, share the information, and in doing so, inspire others to step up and lead the revolution. Thank you Dr. Mitchell – you have furthered the mission of the CPBB and Priority Based Budgeting, and we can’t wait for others to see through your lens this August!   

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If you're thinking of jumping into the world of Fiscal Health and Wellness through Priority Based Budgeting we would certainly like to be part of your efforts! Contact us to schedule a free webinar and identify the best CPBB service option(s) to meet your organization's particular needs.

 
We look forward to seeing you at the CPBB 2014 "New Wave" of Local Government Annual Conference to discover all the creative and innovative concepts so many local government communities are implementing across the country! 

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