Implementing PBB: Conflicting Views of Success



A modern budget reform, performance-based budgeting (PBB) emphasizes the measurement of government performance by agencies and public servants. In this article we define PBB as requiring strategic planning regarding agency mission, goals and objectives, and a process that requests quantifiable data that provide meaningful information about program outcomes. Performance-based budgeting requirements are now pervasive in the states. Of forty-seven states with PBB requirements, thirty-one have legislated the process to be conducted, while sixteen have initiated the reform through budget guidelines or instructions.1What remains unknown, yet of vital interest to state administrators, their staff, legislators, and citizens, regards implementation status of PBB systems. How many states are utilizing a PBB process as prescribed by law or administrative directive? And if PBB has been implemented, has it been successful regarding improvement of agency effectiveness and decision making about spending? Perhaps most importantly, has PBB influenced appropriation decisions?.

This research is based on responses to a mail survey of executive and legislative budgeters regarding the PBB system established in their state. Results discussed in this article consider budgeters’ response about PBB implementation status and effectiveness as conducted. We find that there are differing perceptions across the branches of government regarding both the extent of PBB implementation as well as its success. Results show that states with better-known PBB systems have not necessarily realized greater success in terms of effectiveness from this budget reform than states with less popularly known systems, at least as perceived by the budgeters included in this article.