Financing Strategically

There is a public-sector trend to integrate measuring for performance in the budgeting process. The point is to look for efficiencies and measure results based on performance. Budgeting for results and outcomes links strategic planning, financial planning, performance measures, budgeting, and evaluation. This process also helps link fiscal resources to objectives and goals. The focus is on outcomes and not on organizational structure. The Government Finance Officers Association has provided the following recommendations on how to consider budgeting for results and outcomes.

  1. Determine how much money is available: The budget should be built on expected revenues. This includes base revenues, new revenue sources, and the potential use of fund balance.
  2. Prioritize results: 1. The results or outcomes that matter most to the community being served should be defined. Elected leaders should help determine what programs are most important to their constituents.
  3. Allocate resources among high-priority results: The allocations should be made in a fair and objective manner.
  4. Conduct analysis: The analysis should help you determine what strategies, programs, and activities will best achieve desired results.
  5. Budget available dollars to the most significant programs and activities: The objective is to maximize the benefit of the available resources.
  6. Set measures of annual progress, monitor, and close the feedback loop: These measures should spell out the expected results and outcomes and how they will be measured.
  7. Check what actually happened: This involves using performance measures to compare actual versus budgeted results, including input from the community being served.
  8. Communicate performance results. Internal and external stakeholders should be informed of the results in an understandable format.[54]

Several states have used results-based budgeting to measure and show the impact of the program or services funded. Examples follow:

  • Connecticut, Iowa, and North Carolina have requirements for accountability tracking to report on key indicators related to budgets. These states and their contractors must produce reports that articulate results based on their funding.[55]
  • Oregon is implementing a 10-year plan to redesign the way it builds its budget and makes investment decisions. This new design is an outcome-based budget that helps make public resources last and aids decisionmakers in prioritizing public investments that align with services. Under this new budgeting system, the state must set clear budget limits, expectations, and criteria. The process works to build transparency and accountability; budgets will be reviewed by independent teams. Program data are analyzed to ensure that public investments are focused and tied to specific outcomes. Putting this new budgeting system in place requires the state to set clear budget limits, expectations, and criteria.[56]
 

[54] Government Finance Officers Association. (2007). Budgeting for results and outcomes [Web page]. Retrieved from https://www.gfoa.org/sites/default/files/CCI_BudgetingforResultsOutcomes.pdf.

[55] Lee, A. (2013). Results-based accountability (RBA) & Connecticut state government. Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Social Policy. 

[56] State of Oregon. (n.d.). 10-year plan for Oregon [Web page]. Retrieved from https://digital.osl.state.or.us/islandora/object/osl:16860.