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August 12th-14th in Seattle

Changing How Local Governments Budget

Written by Chris Fabian, Co-founder at ResourceX.
3 people meeting in a conference room with laptop open

ResourceX aspires to change the way local governments approach budgeting and resource allocation.

Local government budgets are often line item budgets consisting of 100’s if not 1000’s of organized account codes. It’s a good structure for book keepers but not the easiest to understand for decision makers. Priority Based budgeting is a newer budgeting process and best-practice. It maps the finance officer’s account codes to a program budget. Priority Based Budgeting apportions a price-tag to each program, scored and ranked relative to societal objectives.

"As a local government practitioner who has worked with the Center for Priority Based Budgeting for a decade, ResourceX has taken a great product and made it even better through their online applications. The simplicity of function as well as the high value of the data provided in the Resource Alignment Diagnostic Tool and Online PBB is something that every municipal government in the world should have at their fingertips. Quite simply, this is the most powerful budgeting resource that exists in the world. ResourceX continues to build upon and deliver powerful and functional solutions.”

Eric Keck
City Manager, Englewood, CO, ResourceX

The Challenge

Despite its obvious appeal, Priority Based Budgeting can require tedious effort to map account codes to programs. The process is often led by consultants who rely on dozens of spreadsheets, making it expensive to implement and difficult to update and maintain.

The Solution

In a nutshell, we transformed a process originally derived from dozens of excel templates into a web application. Our applications break down the Priority Based Budgeting process into a series of steps that can be worked through online. The “lift” of implementation can be spread across the organization and completed piecewise. Updates are tracked by a database and then javascript, D3, and Shiny are used to display the data interactively. The ability to reproduce the entire process easily reduces maintenance effort. Being able to drill down into program costs and dynamically filter the program data allow anyone with permission – managers, constituents – to understand where the money goes.

Why Posit?

Posit Connect and the R ecosystem have enabled us to quickly develop applications around our proven underlying model. Shiny Server Pro enables authentication and delivery of our applications at scale. While primarily public data, user authentication is still important to us so that content is never delivered without appropriate context to our different audiences.

The Payoff

No one wants higher taxes. Everyone wants government decision makers to align resources with the programs that most serve the citizens and desires of the community. That’s what we are able to deliver now to our clients.

"The story we tell ourselves in this City is that we’re broke, busted, bankrupt. And we turn to citizens begging them to understand this obvious fact, and to provide us money for what we need. But how do we stand behind this story when we collect over $600 million every year? We’re not broke! We just choose to lock our assumptions that every dollar is spent exactly as it should be. The process and tools of Priority Based Budgeting upends this assumption and unlocks opportunities to substantially re-allocate the resources we have.”

Sandy Spang
Councilwoman, City of Toledo

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