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Administrative Discretion: Its Use in Budgetary Analysis

PAQ, Vol. 29 No. 2, (2005)

The foundation of this research applies the following
definition of discretion: the use of individual judgment to make
decisions. The literature surrounding budgetary analysis within the
public budgetary process, particularly the first two stages, does not
explicitly discuss discretion. Therefore, using the definition above
coupled with the limited research surrounding discretion, we
demonstrate how agencies, budget offices, executives, and legislative
bodies use discretion when analyzing the budget. Overall, agencies and
departments maintain discretion when they are assertive, politically
astute, and when the budget format promotes flexibility. Effective
communication and executive support are two factors that seem to
result in agency and department budget growth. Agencies are more
likely to witness spending decreases, however, when the legislature is
dissatisfied with agency performance. In the end, the presence of
politics overshadows, and hence limits, discretion.

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