This study is concerned with the formulation phase of state budgeting, a stage of the budget system about which there is very little published material. It deals with the organizations, procedures, and personnel associated with the framing of the budgets to be submitted to the legislature for authorization. The approach to the subject is primarily from the standpoint of governmental administration and political-administrative relationships, although it has been necessary also to draw upon some material relating to historical, economic, and accounting aspects of budgeting.
Three countries, comprising sixty-six separate state and provincial governments, are covered. It would have been possible, and in some respects simpler, to have concentrated upon only one country or even one state and to have made a very detailed examination of its budgetary arrangements. Given the present state of the literature about budget preparation, however, a broad comparative survey was felt to be of more immediate value, even though it was recognized that this would inevitably necessitate omission of some of the minutiae of various states' budgetary practices. Only a few states have been dealt with in a detailed way, but supplementary examples have been taken from as wide a range of systems as possible in order to bring out comparisons and contrasts and to indicate the variety that exists in the treatment of particular facets of fiscal arrangements.
Chapters 1-3 are concerned with the nature of the budget and the budgetary process and with the ways in which budgetary machinery has evolved in the parliamentary and congressional systems of government. The influence of British practice is examined, as is the role of executive budgeting in the American administrative re-organization movement. In chapter 4 attention is paid to the form and content of state budget documents since these are matters that markedly affect not only the use which may be made of the budget papers by various groups but also the effective operation of subsequent phases of the budget system, particularly these of legislative authorization and execution.
Chapter 5 looks in detail at the procedures followed in a number of states in formulating their budgets, including capital works requirements and the estimating of likely revenues. This latter is a feature of budgeting which exhibits serious weaknesses in all three countries, budget documents often being at best simply expenditure plans. In the course of this discussion examples are given of the methods used in some states that exercise more care than is usual in estimating revenue.
When examining the question of budget agency location within the overall administrative framework (chapter 6), the concentration is on America, partly because it is there that the greatest organizational variety is to be found, and partly because location is relevant to executive strength and co-ordination of governmental activities, both of which are matters of major significance in the American state governmental context. Discussion of the roles of budget agencies and analysts is linked with location in this chapter, but also extends to cover the concepts held about the nature of budgeting, which are examined in terms of "control" versus "management" orientation. Legislative influence is examined in chapter 7 only insofar as it touches directly or indirectly on budget preparation.
Central to budget formulation is the work of the individual budget analyst. Organizational and procedural questions are important, but the effectiveness of the process of preparation depends largely on factors associated with the personnel involved. A close analysis has therefore been made in chapter 8 of such things as the ways in which budget officials are recruited, their qualifications and experience, the training and staff development methods commonly used in budget offices, promotion prospects both within the field of budgeting and for general administrative posts, the relationship of agency organization to movement of staff, and the problems arising from high turnover rates amongst budget personnel. Discussion of factors such as these is supplemented by appendices containing a good deal of detailed information.
The breadth of coverage of this study has made it difficult to keep within the space limitations imposed by thesis regulations. Each chapter has accordingly been designed to incorporate conclusions that would otherwise have formed the basis of a final chapter recapitulating and summarising arguments appearing in the main body of the text. Such a chapter has been replaced by a brief survey of the literature of state budgeting with a commentary upon the lacunae that exist in such areas as state administrative history, factual description of budget preparation methods, and budgetary theory. We seem now to be at the crossroads and it is likely that much of the future writing about budgeting will concern itself with constructing theoretical models of the types already developed in other areas of political science.
Except where indicated in the text or by footnote references this study represents the original work and investigations of the author.