ADVANTAGES

Interestingly, if PPBS was used as its proponents advocated, the concept included a zero-base budget idea since program analysis would be applied to all programs, old and new. And, it had been tried for a year in 1962 without much success in the Department of Agriculture (Wildavsky, 1975: 278-280; Tyer, 1977). The concept did not gain national prominence, however, until Peter Pyhrr wrote about Texas Instrument’s experience with it in the in 1970. In 1972, then Governor Jimmy Carter read the article and the rest is, as they say, history. Carter introduced the idea to Georgia state government and then to Washington when he was elected President in 1976. Theoretically, ZBB required that programs be justified over and over again so that the traditional base budget which received little or no scrutiny in traditional budget processes was no longer sacroscant. The concept called for identification of decision units, decision packages, ranking of units within packages and evaluation of alternative spending levels for units in the packages. Managers were to provide estimates of different levels of funding, such as below current levels of support, maintenance of the current level, or a higher level of support with explanation of the impact of such alternative funding levels upon their program. Thus, the uniqueness of ZBB was in the formatting of information and the redefinition of budget base to include decrements and not just increases in funding. ZBB at the national level lasted only as long as the Carter Administration and was quickly abandoned by the Reagan Administration upon taking office ( Schick, 1978) or, as one observer put it, "some butterflies were caught, no elephants stopped " (Wildavsky, 1975: 278). No states can be said to have implemented the system as described by Pyhrr, although some did experiment with the concept(8) (Wildavsky, 1975: 294-296). State efforts might be summarized as one observer said of New Mexico’s experiment--the effort was a "small and shaky first step at budget reform..." (LaFaver, 1974: 109), or as in the case of Kansas, ZBB terminology was adopted but existing processes continued which already used a rotating review of state programs (Bibb, 1984: 126-127). The concept was adapted and used by a number of local governments. Two of the earliest cities to experiment with the idea were Garland, Texas and Wilmington, Delaware (Leininger and Wong, 1976; Singleton, Smith and Cleaveland, 1976). Assessments of cities using ZBB usually came to similar conclusions: it was "neither a panacea nor placebo" (Fukuhara, 1978), nor a "magic elixir" which could balance the demands of "inflationary cost increases and citizen anti-tax militancy" (Moore, 1980: 257). Sometimes cities used the concept under another name. Thus, Kansas City, for example, is reported to have used a Balanced-Base-Budget (BBB). Others have simply used something referred to as Decremental Budgeting. Still others have used a variant called Target Base Budgeting (TBB). (See Lewis, 1988; McCaffey, 1981; Miller, 1996; and, Wildavsky, 1975.) All are or can be decremental budgets designed to practice what earlier scholars called Revenue Budgeting, or allowing the availability of revenue to dictate the level of appropriation in a governmental entity, a practice with a long history in American local government. The difference was that ZBB and its offspring became popular in a time when budget constraints were common. Revenue growth had slowed for most governments. Tools were sought which would assist in restraining, if not reducing, public spending.No "major budgeting system dominated the 1980s public sector landscape" (Hyde, 1992: 328). Rather, the late 1970s and 80s witnessed significant changes in American politics. It was a period of reexamination of public support for government. Demographic changes which had been underway for some time in the United States cluminated in the dawn of the suburban century. With this came public preferences for lower taxes, reduced support for government social services, and more emphasis on personal responsibility. "Doing more with less" became a popular expression which many in government found to be a mandate, if not the motto of the decade. Tax and spending limitation proposals gained popularity after a successful initiative (Proposition 13) in California in 1978 (Sears and Citrin, 1982; Hale, 1993; Kuttner, 1980). Nineteen states added some form of limit on themselves after 1978 ( Joyce and Mullins, 1991: 241). By 1994, 43 states limited local taxes or expenditures in some fashion (Mullins and Joyce, 1996: 77). Thus, the 1980s, and even the 1990s can be characterized as a period of tax resistance if not outright revolt. Before coming to the 1990s, however, it is appropriate that we pause and briefly review the state of budgeting at the end of the 1980s.Critiques of Budgetary Reform

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