Streamlining Zero-Base Budgeting Will Benefit Decisionmaking

PAD-79-45: Published: Sep 25, 1979. Publicly Released: Sep 25, 1979.

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The Federal budget process plays a major role in Government decisionmaking. Zero-based budgeting was assessed as a tool for analysis and decisionmaking. Managers using this concept: examine current objectives, operations and costs; consider other ways of carrying out their program or activities; and rank different programs or activities by order of importance to their organization.

It was found that often both private and public sectors hastily applied a rigid, mechanical zero-base budgeting process. This led to problems which resulted in: expectations and results differing at different management levels; duplication of effort; useless information; lack of incentives to cut waste; and frustrations created by having few visibe results to show for the resources committed. Zero-base budgeting concepts should be incorporated into an organization's planning, budgeting, and reassessment processes so as to strengthen and streamline all of these analyses and decisionmaking functions. Implementing the budgeting concepts into the Federal budget process has added useful information on managers' priorities, but it has also increased the workload of preparing the budget. Linking executive and legislative information should make it more useful to various decisionmaking bodies, because they would all be using more consistently structured information. If public and private organizations adopt the broad definition of zero-base budgeting and the implementation approach that GAO suggests, they should be able to streamline the process to their individual needs.

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