The budget of a welfare department is the financial blueprint of the department for a fiscal period. The city, county, state, and federal governments may each have a consolidated budget for all the agencies of the governmental unit, but we are concerned here only with the budget of a welfare agency as a part of the larger governmental organization. Every welfare department presents a request for appropriations to a legislative body, either through a central budget agency or directly. It is necessary to show what is to be done with the money, if appropriated, and this requires breaking the total request down into items so that the legislature can see more definitely why the amount of money requested is needed. This document which contains the itemization of the request for funds is a budget; it may be loosely prepared, or it may be technically correct in every respect, but in either case it is a budget for legislative purposes. The department may need a more detailed budget as a means of financial control within the agency. In the states and the large cities there is a growing tendency to create a central budget agency which specifies the form in which a department shall present its request for appropriations, and these forms may require the greatest detail possible. County governments have been much slower to develop budget machinery, perhaps because they rarely have a chief executive officer, but county agencies make budgets for their own use. A budget has three important functions in departmental administration: (1) it is a financial plan on the basis of which the objectives of the agency are to be achieved; (2) it is the means of securing funds from a legislative body; and (3) it is a means for the control of financial transactions.
The preparation of a budget is a step in long-time planning of welfare activities. The immediate request for funds may contemplate only the next fiscal year or the next biennium, but the board