Rethinking Budgeting

Traditional line item budgeting is incremental, which can make it slow for local governments to adapt to changing conditions. The Rethinking Budgeting initiative considers new ways of thinking, new technologies, and updated practices to better meet the changing needs of communities.

Local governments have long relied on last year’s budget to make incremental, line item changes around the margins to make next year’s budget. 

Though this form of budgeting has advantages and can be useful in times of stability, it can also make local governments slow to adapt in times of rapid change, like the volatile and uncertain times we live in today.

Rethinking budgeting is no small matter, so we’ve broken it down into the following subtopics, which we invite you to explore. Note that the Rethinking Budgeting initiative is not finished, so our content will evolve and grow as it moves forward.

Did you know?

Surveys show that people want significant changes made to their political and economic systems. Since a budget is the most important policy document that a local government produces, the Rethinking Budgeting Initiative aims to help make those changes.

The Rethinking Budgeting initiative is a collaborative effort between the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), International City/County Management Association (ICMA), and National League of Cities (NLC).

This initiative will raise new and interesting ideas for how local government budget systems can be adapted to today’s needs. We hope the ideas presented will spur conversation about the possibilities for rethinking budgeting.

Rethinking Budgeting Partners

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