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Budgeting Philosophies

Examine the pros and cons of using a performance-based budget, zero-based budget and line item budget. Which would you use during a budget cycle as a police chief, and why? 

Support your claims with examples from required material(s) and/or other scholarly resources, and properly cite any references

The simplest definition of budgeting is that it is a methodical way to assign resources. varied styles of government budgeting systems are developed to serve multiple purposes. Money management, management, planning, priority setting for scarce funds, and accountability within the use of public resources plays a important part in budgeting. It is also important to have  good relationship with the news media, as the news media is a big influence on the public.

It is also important to note that Budget and finance functions vary widely across each county and state. In order to be successful in obtaining a budget that works you need to have a good strategy. That is why surveys, and round table discussions are done on the topic of budgeting. In one round table discussion Chief Carey cautioned, “it’s critical to have somebody in the next layer who has a conceptual understanding of how budget and work programs fit into the philosophy of the department…. You need to have cops somewhere in the process, overseeing what happens, so they can put everything together…with the management philosophy of the department.” (Police Department Budgeting, 2002, p.16).

Performance–based budget is considered as a system in an organization whereby individual and particular department performances are usually linked to the budgeting process. In a case were an individual meets his/her goals get an increment in funds. This system is advantageous in a manner that when a firm is budgeting funds it will consider benefits from every activity funds are posted in. It will also become easy to justify funds allocation when it comes to budgeting. In another case using this system, there might be disadvantageous since it might cause conflict in the organization.

Zero-based budget is a system whereby every expenditure in the firm must be accounted for in every budget cycle. This system can be advantageous since every cost is usually re-evaluated annually. In zero-based budget system every expenditure is revisited so as to clear the financial imbalance. This system gives managers of firms’ ideas on how to improve operations in the firm and gets rid of some of the useless operations. Zero-based budget system on the other hand is very time consuming and requires some training in order to perfect.

A study completed by PERF, there was a fifty one percent of the respondents said they use the line-item budget (Police Department Budgeting, 2002). Line item budget is a form of budgeting whereby each expense is separately accounted for to enhance readability and analysis. This technique is very useful in financial planning, cost reduction measures and identifying sources of waste or fraud. Line item budget is easy to make as one can easily list all expenses on specified columns with the amount of dollars. It provides flexible budgetary control to some programs that is based on defined criteria. It also makes adequate historical data that is useful when writing a budget to determine whether departments should receive the same funding or additional funding.

In Scottsdale they operate on a modified zero-based budgeting system, also known as performance budgeting. Said Chief Bartosh, “It helps us to make maximum use of our

budget. If we identify areas that no longer present a priority, we can take that money and move it somewhere else…based on the overall critical objectives and our goals.” (Police Department Budgeting. 2002, p, 13).

That is why as a police chief I would prefer using performance based budget system. This is because I would be able to distribute funds according to the effort made for example night shifts and it would result to few of misunderstandings and favoritism.

“Chief Bloechle observed, “In a conservative fiscal environment, my elected officials are going to ask those kinds of hard questions: Can you show me what works, where it works, how it works? What’s it going to do? What’s the net effect? You can’t blame them, when they can pick up the paper and read horror stories about agencies in our area who purchased a new system that then collapsed and they had to go out and replace it.” (Police Department Budgeting, 2002, p.21).


Brishton, R. (1979). The management philosophies and controls in capital budgeting:(a comparative study of South African subsidiaries of multi-national corporations).

Guthrie, J. (2007). Modern education finance and policy. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

[PDF] Police Department Budgeting: A Guide for Law … (2002, November). Retrieved from www.policeforum.org/…Online…/Budgeting/ police%20department%20bu… – Similar

Please look over make any changes you feel necessary. thanks

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