Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management Vol 9 Number 1

Symposium on Public Budgeting: An Introduction to the Future

Thomas D. Lynch


Modern Public Budgeting is about one hundred years old but now it is in the process of being fundamentally reinvented as we begin our next century. This is a symposium about the future of budgeting. It features the following themes:

  • Budget formats and procedures are important as they do influence policy outcomes;
  • Academic research, such as done by Aaron Wildavsky, does make a difference in terms of what budget formats and procedures are selected;
  • The future of budgeting is at a crossroad;
  • Part of the disillusionment with current public budgeting directly relates to the disillusionment with contemporary American politics;
  • A major element for future budgeting appears to be extensive use of performance measures especially those focusing on program accomplishments;
  • Another element for future budgeting is the incorporation of other reforms including reinventing, re-engineering, TQM, franchising, competition, and privatization;
  • A new emphasis in public budgeting is focusing on linking user fees and charges for services to agency budgets;
  • Although budgeting is a universal activity of governments around the world, the rate of evolution and appropriate reform by regions and cultures; and
  • Increasing those on the cutting edge of budget reform will be adopting Entrepreneurial Budgeting.
  • This symposium consist of nine articles that address each of the themes. Although each article stands alone, they should be viewed as an interrelated set that together explores the larger subject of this symposium.

    The Road to Entrepreneurial Budgeting

    Thomas D. and Cynthia E. Lynch


    The twenty-first century appears to be starting with a new budget reform called Entrepreneurial Budgeting. This article not only explains what it is but also first places it into a futurist context and secondly contrast it to other budget reforms using a topology popularize by Allen Schick. This article argues that it is more that a passing fad but rather a continuation of an evolutionary stream of reforms that shape how professionals normatively think about the budget process.


    The twenty-first century is upon us. For several decades, futurists like Drucker (1989a, 1989b), Naisbitt (1994), and Reich (1992) have told us that information technology is transforming our society. They have predicted that the more successful organizations among is will alter themselves to take advantage of new technology and they and we will change in the process. The writing teams of Hammer and Champy (1992) and Gaebler and Osborn (1992) have echoed the thoughts of the futurists in their calls for the re-engineering and re-invention of not only private organizations but also government.

    Because of information are technology, society including the role of government is being changed fundamentally as more and more organizations adapt. The old command and control model of doing business of the past century is no longer adequate for our needs. As we move further into the information age, we are experiencing polar opposite conditions from the command and control model created by the progressive/liberal era in our various institutions including government. The speed of technological advance is faster in the information era that in the progressive/liberal era. The major source of new jobs in society has shifted from manufacturing to service and knowledge industries. Organizations are beginning to change their structures from top down hierarchical to networks and webs working in coordinated partnerships. In the past the key to economic success was mass marketing and now it is in the global market with specialty niches. Finally, even our social structures are shifting from strong neighborhood and family units to isolated individuals and fragmented communities often with dysfunctional family units.

    This article explains the shifting role of budgeting caused by the change from one era to another. The first section of the article reviews Schick’s functions of budgeting and the importance of the budget format in achieving each of the functions. The second section explains the revised functions of budgeting in the information era. The third section explains why there has been a fundamental shift from the progressive/liberal to the information era and the implications of that shift to government and budgeting in particular. the final sections presents the conclusion of the article.

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