Planning is the part of the budgeting process where the desired future state for the local government and its community is articulated. The Rethinking Budgeting initiative is not finished, so this section will evolve and grow as the initiative moves forward.

Rethinking Strategic Plans. Strategic planning is a long-standing “best practice” in public finance. However, strategic planning, as it is commonly practiced, has significant limitations. We highlight the flaws in some of the basic underlying assumptions of traditional strategic planning and propose a new approach that is better able to meet the challenges faced by governments today.

Rethinking public engagement. Public engagement is essential for gathering feedback to inform the size and shape of the budget. However, public engagement as it is conventionally practiced is too little, too late. It happens at the end of the budget process when decisions have already been made and it is limited to a public hearing or two, which often amounts to little more than an opportunity for citizens to air their grievances at a microphone. We suggest a new set of principles to design better public engagement.