Note to Budget Professionals: Policy Analysts Support Policy and Operational Decision Making

By Anderson, Janet | Government Finance Review, December 2006 | Go to article overview

Note to Budget Professionals: Policy Analysts Support Policy and Operational Decision Making


Anderson, Janet, Government Finance Review


Citizens continue to expect more public services with the same, if not fewer resources, so public sector professionals increasingly are managing for results and greater efficiency. This means they are looking more comprehensively at policy and operations issues, including clarifying overall service responsibilities, constituting programs and operations involved in carrying out responsibilities, and analyzing and redesigning business processes. These tasks affect, and are affected by, budgets.

For most of my 15 years in the city of Detroit's budget department, I have worked to integrate policy and operations considerations into Detroit's resource planning processes. Detroit's Charter establishes separate budget and finance departments, with a "management audit" function in the budget department to analyze and evaluate operations of all city agencies. Starting my career in the midst one of the city's periodic fiscal crises, I wondered how to prevent downturns, and how the service record could be improved even when times were good, so I took an educational leave to complete a doctorate in policy analysis so that I could perform this function. (1)

Today, public sector budgets must integrate service delivery analysis, and budget decisions hinge on the ability to sort through increased, often competing, information from stakeholders. Activities that tie results management to budgets include: strategic planning, policy design, organizational assessments, program design and evaluation, business process improvement and reengineering, performance measurement, and reporting. Some jurisdictions house these analytical functions in independent agencies, while most appear to accomplish them ad hoc--such as through consulting contracts, or in operating agency units--if at all. (2)

THE POLICY ANALYST'S TOOLBOX

A policy analyst is trained in a variety of methods to gather, synthesize, and communicate evidence--a skill set that supports these growing requirements well. In an old-style bureaucracy like the city of Detroit, these skills are often misunderstood. Research can be applied rather than theoretical, and every area of government can benefit from the independent and specialized thinking a policy analyst brings. There have been five ways that my training as a policy analyst supports the city of Detroit's resource planning activities.

I. Setting up Planning Processes

A policy analyst is a voice for planning, with the ability to structure a standard process for those decisions that need to occur on a regular basis or in coordination with numerous individuals/departments. The steps that need to be reflected at some point in the process are:

* Assessment of current conditions, assets, and operating constraints

* Development of priority-setting methods, guiding principles and criteria for success, including target benchmarks or measures of success

* Gathering information projecting different asset or operational scenarios

* Articulating a formal official decision: clearly stated, with all its implications, and broadly communicated under the decision maker's authority

* Providing feedback mechanisms to translate activities into improved future decisions

Example: Service Cost Projections

The cyclical nature of Detroit's finances can be aided strongly by strategic planning efforts. Several years ago, I developed an environmental scan tool that compiled the constraints, opportunities, and initiatives facing city agencies to help in overall priority setting. Each agency completed a matrix for each of its services projecting the demand, staffing, and equipment needs they would face over a five-year horizon. The agency scans detailed escalating overhead costs relating to technology and professional service specialization, and identified changing service demands.

The budget department began to project its current structural budget problem around this time. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Note to Budget Professionals: Policy Analysts Support Policy and Operational Decision Making
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.