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Session Summary: Budgeting During Recessions

November 10, 2012 10:05 AM

The Role for Innovation and Public Engagement

The roundtable Budgeting During Recessions: The Role for Innovation and Public Engagement  was a discussion on how budgeting is accomplished in a rough economic environment. Donald J. Boyd, University of Albany, moderated the session. Stuart Kasdin, George Washington University, led off the session with how the budget process has treated discretionary spending, user fees, and mandatory spending. His paper focused on changes to support an increased focus on program quality in the budget process. One of these changes included creating a new commission reporting to the President, of which the purpose would be to grade the quality of federal programs.

Jason Juffras, a Ph.D. student at George Washington University, followed up with his presentation entitled "Generating Budget Options: Learning from Experts." Jason created a helpful handout that outlined the purpose of his presentation and provided an overview of the key ideas he was about to present. He had conducted a literature examination on the topic of cutback management and examined budget option reports prepared by the CBO, California's Legislative Analyst, New York city's Independent Budget Office, and Chicago's Inspector General. His concluding thoughts were that short-term, "freeze-and-squeeze" responses may be unavoidable but governments might be able to "move faster to more strategic approaches".

Phillip Joyce from the University of Maryland followed with his presentation that focused on late appropriations and the real costs associated with them. He argued that this practice is not costless and wanted to understand the effects. The five major effects he cited were:

  • Delayed hiring and other personnel actions.
  • Training and travel delays and suspensions.
  • Changes in contracting practices which can include the use of multiple short term contracts instead of annual contracts.
  • Increased cost of providing services.
  • Reduced effectiveness and efficiency.

In conclusion, the panelists provided a better understanding of how budgets are affected during recessions and suggested innovative solutions to possibly reduce the negative effects associated with it.

Contributed by Sophia Guevara, Wayne State University


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