Budgeting is the process of planning on measures to accomplish programs related to objectives of an organization. Government officials adopted the public budgeting to allocate the scarce resources to achieve the government’s goals at a given period. Public budgets serve a vital role in governance of a country. Public budgets are contracts agreed upon by both the legislative and executive officials to raise and spend funds on public projects, within a fiscal year, usually from July 1st to June 30th. Irene Rubin argues that accountability and acceptability of a public budget is hard to achieve among the public administrators, and the government needs to address this issue.
Accountability refers to the obligation of an individual or organization to take and accept responsibility of various activities. It is essential for the person involved in disclosing the results of the projects in a transparent manner. The public administrators involved in implementing the public budget ought to be accountable of their activities to ensure proper utilization of public funds (Stillman, 2009). Budgetary decisions are made by envisioning the governments as not only technical managerial documents but also intrinsically and irreducibly political. There are various distinctive features of budgets in the public sector such as the openness of the environment within which budgets are developed, the actors involved in the decision-making process, the number of constraints imposed, and the level of public accountability (Rubin, 2000). The public budgeting systems must be accountable to the taxpayers, legislative and oversight bodies, and holders of government debt. Public accountability entails ensuring that every penny of the public funds is spent as agreed, and an accurate report is produced to show how the money was spent.
Public acceptability indicates that the public administrators’ activities are restrained by what the public wants. It is crucial for public administrators perform duties that fulfill societal goals; at times, administrators do what they think the public wants even if the results are inefficient. Other times they divert from implementing the public budget to fulfill the citizens’ needs (Peters, & Pierre, 2003). Public needs may lack clear expression, and the government may have priorities over public needs, hence lack of public acceptability. Rubin argues that a public budget acceptability depends on time and circumstances upon which it is drawn. There exists a chief tension between the public accountability and public acceptability due to pressure involved in the process of implementing a public budget (Rubin, 2000). Politicians may not be willing to respect the public opinion but rather aim to satisfy their own interests. This leads to distorting of information and presentation of inaccurate budgets. The public may have several different needs, which the government officials deem unnecessary, hence creation of tension.
The spy satellite case reveals the tension between public accountability and acceptability. In 2002, the government of United States of America initiated plans to build modern technological spy satellites. Boeing, the contractor, and his team had excess technological goals, which were unattainable with the budgetary amount set for the completion of the project. Previously, the Clinton’s administration had allocated all military projects to private contractors as a way of downsizing the public service officials, and minimizing operational costs. The government set strict guidelines on budget use in the remaining projects within the satellite agency, which led to inflexibility of the firm’s activities.
The United States was interested in new ideas in the satellite industry, yet the amount allocated for the implementation of satellite programs, was not enough. Some federal government officials fail to pay attention to the actual public needs, but their interests (Peters, & Pierre, 2003). Boeing placed a five billion bid to contract the Future Imagery Architecture, which the government assessment team questioned. The team argued that the bid had lofty technological goals. The warning signals indicated that the project was underfunded, and the completion time was irrelevant. The government officials should have questioned how Boeing would complete the project with the tight budget, how he would handle emerging errors, and how he would manage the set time limit. The trial to save public funds by the government rather led to wasteful use of resources in the unsuccessful satellite program. Failure to consider the team’s opinions created tension between the government and assessment team, which led to failure of the satellite program. The spy satellite case reveals that it is vital to conduct a thorough vetting and price evaluation process, before implementing public projects to avoid wasting of public resources.
I had an experience, of spending more money than I anticipated, in an attempt to minimize costs. I recently planned to purchase a phone, and I decided to buy a second hand from a friend since it was cheaper than a new one in the shops. I did not take a proper assessment of the phone before buying, and within two weeks, the phone’s earpiece had problems. I spent a lot of money repairing the phone, and I finally decided to buy a new one. I purchased a cheap phone in an attempt to reduce costs, but instead used more than I had budgeted. I learnt that it is crucial to assess a project and its value before implementing it.
Rubin, I. (2000). The politics of public budgeting: Getting and spending, borrowing and balancing. New York: Chatham House Publishers.
Stillman, R. J. (2009). Public administration: Concepts and cases. Boston, Mass.: Wadsworth.
Peters, B. G., & Pierre, J. (2003). Handbook of public administration. London: Sage Publications.