How to Drive Strategic Budgeting in Government with Performance Management

November 29, 2022 – OpenGov

Public sector performance management has long held the promise of improving efficiency, productivity, and community outcomes. Because of these benefits, many jurisdictions have explored or taken steps toward implementing performance management programs and moving beyond budget automation, but success is achieved slowly and incrementally

One of the most difficult parts of moving towards more strategic budgeting in government is weaving strategic goals into the budget process. Setting them can be a challenge by itself, but incorporating them into your planning process is a hurdle that many governments spend large amounts of time and resources overcoming. In this blog, we dive into why more governments should augment budget automation with a budget strategy and an emphasis on performance management, as well as tips for including strategic goals in your planning process.

Why focus on strategic budgeting in government?

There are key values in budgeting strategically, recently driven by new GFOA guidelines for better budget books as well as a need to better use limited funds to achieve a growing list of demands from constituents and a desire to strengthen community trust.

Click HERE to watch our session from our virtual Transform event on best practices for building a plan to achieve your strategic goals.

Some of them include aligning limited funding to targeted drivers of positive community outcomes, structuring the budget in a narrative of progress the community is able to easily understand, and creating a framework for monitoring and measuring impact. By shifting the conversation toward budget strategy, governments are able to improve decisions, drive outcomes, and engage the community by incorporating their feedback

One of the first steps to moving towards more strategic budgeting in government is setting strategic goals for your government, which are used for measuring and managing performance as a cornerstone of strategic budgeting. Read on to learn the top tips to help achieve success with performance-based budgeting and performance measures. 

1. Be realistic.

Don’t try to boil the ocean – be realistic about how many goals to set (a good number to shoot for is one-three goals per department). These goals should be clearly laid out with defined steps and milestones, such as the core mission, a vision statement, strategic priorities within the goal, and a rollout/implementation plan. By having a realistic amount of goals, staff can allocate funds and efforts to areas that have been historically underperforming. The most successful governments are the ones that are laser-focused on strategic goals with realistic, achievable performance measures.

For more on performance measures, download our “Measure What Matters: Tips for Aligned Strategic Initiatives and Better Performance Management” for more.

2. Leave room for innovation.

Set aside controlled spaces for experiments, so there’s room to try out new ideas that could advance the ball. Testing out and piloting new ideas, in the beginning, allows for failure and learning. Trying the same thing over and over,and expecting a different outcome, does not improve community outcomes. As part of this innovation, collaboration is also essential to make sure all departments are on the same page. 

3. Bring a sense of urgency to the table.

You have undoubtedly experienced how your jurisdiction’s bureaucracy can create roadblocks and slow down your processes. To overcome these challenges, our most successful government partners find a way to drive a sense of urgency. To do this, governments can incentivize performance or in a controlled way, prove a theory and adopt it on a full-scale basis with features such as unlimited report creation, unlimited users, and easy-to-create dashboards so that everyone in government can have access to the data they need. Another way to create urgency is to start from the top up by using your leadership to bring everyone to the table. 

Shifting the Budget Conversation 

It’s time to transform to strategic budgeting in government that is powered by performance management, not just budget automation. With purpose-built tools and processes available to your whole workforce, you can translate your strategic plan from guiding principles into community outcomes. 

For more on transforming your processes, let’s talk. The OpenGov Cloud offers solutions to streamline the budget process, while driving outcomes, improving decisions, and engaging the community. Request a demo here.

To learn more about OpenGov’s budgeting & planning solution, request your personal demo here.