Boulder's Resource Reallocation Breakthrough - Finding the Means to Start New Programs

BLOG POST | Sep 27, 2012

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City of Boulder's Recommended 2013 Budget in PBB Terms

The City of Boulder, Colorado continues it's ideal application of Priority Based Budgeting, evolving the process into their third year.

What Boulder has done is remarkable in many way, but we wanted to highlight two significant outcomes:

1.) Applying PBB to "new programs" - Boulder was the first to apply PBB to the consideration of programs that didn't exist before; running them through the PBB model to see what Quartile they might be in, if they were initiated. It's a tremendous application. And as demonstrated in this year's budget, new investment, new resources are allocated to high priority programs planning the City's "energy future." Where did they get the money to start these new programs - "nearly 10% reductions were applied to low-quartile, low-relevance investment areas

"Due to a number of factors, including reduced revenue projections, there was little opportunity to add resources to city programs in the 2013 budget. PBB was a tool to help shift resources from lower to higher priority programs."

2.) The long-term view of PBB - Boulder has also compiled a multi-year perspective on their application of PBB, to demonstrate how they've reduced and divested themselves of lower priority programs over the years, and reinvested in new or expanded higher priority programs - it's outstanding!


Highlights from the report:

"The city considered numerous budget requests at the program level to use existing funds differently or add funding to a new or existing program. City staff used Priority-Based Budgeting (PBB) principles to consider each funding proposal and to inform the decision on allocating additional revenues to individual programs. By way of example, “Accessible and Connected Community” is one of the five PBB results and states that Boulder will provide open access to information, encourage innovation, enhance communication, and promote community engagement. The Recommended Budget proposes to add a Children’s and Youth Service Program Librarian in the Library and Arts Department to further achieve this result. A second example is the proposed creation of a Homeless Resource Officer position within the Municipal Court to further the PBB result “Healthy and Socially Thriving Community.” This result asks Boulder to support the physical and mental well-being of its community members and actively partner with other organizations to improve the welfare of those in need."


"As the cornerstone of the city’s budget process, PBB gives the city three central benefits:

  • Identifies key Council and community goals (see the next section on PBB Results and Attributes)
  • Evaluates the impact on these goals of city programs and services
  • Provides a tool for strategic decision-making in funding, adding and/or eliminating programs and services, making more effective use of the city’s limited resources."



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