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The Efficacy Of Public Participation In Municipal Budgeting: An Exploratory Survey Of Officials In Government Finance Officers Association?s Award-Winning Cities

Author: WILLIAM HATCHER
Published in PAQ, Vol. 39 No. 4

Municipal reformers often call for more public participation in the budget process. However, few studies have surveyed the viewpoints of budget practitioners on the efficacy of public involvement in municipal budgeting. In this paper, we report a survey administered by e-mail to budget directors in cities that won the Government Finance Officers Association?s (GFOA) distinguished budget presentation award in 2011. The survey is based upon the research of Berner (2004) and the theoretical framework developed by Ebdon and Franklin (2006). We find that budget directors in the sampled cities view traditional participation methods, such as the public hearing, as the most effective, compared to more interactive and participatory methods. This viewpoint stands in contrast to the scholarly literature?s normative arguments and empirical evidence that meaningful public input must be solicited early in the budgeting process through interactive methods.

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