PAUS 3831
Alderhold 324, Monday/Wednesday, 12-1:15pm
Course Number  86701


Governmental Budgeting

Governmental budgeting examines the politics of the budgetary process, budgeting as a professional practice, and the role of budgets and budget processes in determining public policies.  We intend this class to meet the needs undergraduate students with a range of different interests and goals.  The content is rich and interesting for students interested in policy, and there is also skill-oriented, applied cases and exercises for those seeking a professional career in public affairs.   We examine current budget issues, the academic literature in budgeting and finance, and students will get the opportunity to research budgeting trends in a governmental or non-profit agency or program of their choice.  The primary focus of the course is on state and local government finance, but  the federal government also receives a substantial attention. 

 

Required Textbooks:

Rubin, Irene S. The Politics of Public Budgeting: Getting and Spending, Borrowing and Balancing. 5th ed. Washington D.C.: CQ Press, 2006.

This book should be available in the university bookstore.  I also recommend shopping on the Web to find the best prices.  This Web site might prove helpful.  Please notify the instructor immediately, if you have problems getting this book.  Additional readings are available on the Vista course home page.

Learning Objectives:

Understand the role of budgets and budget processes in policy making and implementation.  

Be able to describe the process by which government budgets are compiled, enacted and implemented.

Be able to describe the leading contemporary proposals for budgetary reform.

Understand the role of budgets and budget processes in the development and implementation of public policies.

Master some of the skills needed to be an active participant in the budgetary process.

This class makes an important contribution to the BS in Public Policy degree program, and the content is set in a general way by the department faculty.  Minimal overlap is expected with other classes.  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about how this class fits into your program of study or the content that is covered.

Office Hours:

I will hold formal office hours from 2pm-4pm on Monday and Wednesday in room 334 of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.  Meetings can also be scheduled at a mutually convenient time.  I will also be answering questions via telephone during office hours.  You can reach your instructor by telephone at 404-413-0116.  Stay on the line, if I am away, and you will get my voice mail.  Electronic mail can be sent via the Internet to gstreib@gsu.edu.  You can also Email me from our WebCT Vista home page.  Fax messages can be sent to 404-413-0104Online office hours are available on request for students with access to a computer and a headset microphone.  Learn more about your instructor here.

The 3831 Class on the Web:

The course home page can be found at this location.  You will have problems using uLearn if you do not do a browser tune-up.  This is something that students are expected to do.  Any other problems can be addressed by contacting technical support.  Contact your instructor immediately if these resources are inadequate in any way.

Also note that this class will make intensive use if the uLearn assignment tool. If this is new to you then you should take advantage of the practice assignment that I will offer early in the semester. The assignment tool gives you information on class assignments, lets you check your assignment submission, and it also allows me to give you comments on your work. Assignments can also be returned to you for additional work. You may submit the wrong file, for example, or I may want you to correct an error. It is not hard to master the assignment tool, just pay close attention to it when you submit an assignment and take a look at the different tabs.

Spreadsheet Skills:

Students who are not familiar with spreadsheets are strongly encouraged to complete at least the Level One Excel training offered by Element K (http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwwbt/), which will take about 4 hours.  Element K access is free to GSU students, and it is excellent.  You receive a certificate for each level of training that you complete.  There are also a number of specialized modules for more advanced users.  If using spreadsheets is new to you, then get started on this training during the first week of this course.  We will be getting right to work on practical spreadsheet applications.

As an incentive, your instructor will provide 10 bonus points to any student who submits a certificate of completion for Level 1, 2, or 3 Excel training prior to the start of class on September 8th.  The offer is for 10 points out of the 1000 points available in this course.  This is 1 percent of your final grade.

Midterm and the Final Exam:

There will be a midterm and a final exam in this class.  Both exams are take-homes in a traditional essay format with three questions to answer.  You will have several days to complete each exam.  Completed midterm exams should be in the range of 8-10 double-spaced pages. 

Answers to questions that do a good job of conveying the material covered in class will receive grades in the B range.  The A answers will need to show more depth, which can come from either a careful reading of the class text or from other sources.  You will have a good idea of what will be asked on both exams before you see them, and thoughtful answers are expected.

Homework Assignments:

There are a number of homework assignments in this class, as shown below:

Creating a Budget Request Exercise (50 Points): Develop a budget request for a local government development department.  Submit this on uLearn.

GFOA Best Practices Exercise (50 Points): Learn about the best practices identified by the Government Finance Officers Association.  Bring this to class.

The State of Grace Exercise (25 Points): Study the budgetary trends in the State of Grace, using deflators and accounting for inflation.  Submit this on uLearn. 

Capital Budgeting Exercise (25 Points): Recommend capital budgeting priorities for a municipality.  Bring this to class.

The GFOA and capital budgeting exercises (second and last in the list) are documents that need to be filled out, and you will be able to download an electronic copy of the pages from uLearn.  The completed assignments should be brought to class, given that your work will also be part of our class discussion.  If you forget to bring your exercise to class, I will also accept them via email until 11pm on the day of class.  This means you would have to scan your sheets and email an electronic document.  You may also fax your work to: 1-206-203-2056.  This is a toll call.

 

Participation:

 

Class participation counts for 15 percent of your final grade.  Good attendance and keeping to yourself will get you a grade of 80 for participation.  Being actively engaged in class will get you a grade of 100.  Actively engaged students have new ideas to contribute to the class--they share a personal experience that relates to the class material or a related news story.  They are the ones eager to present the conclusions from a group discussion, and they ask questions when other students are presenting.  Budgeting and finance is not a back room activity; it is about being actively involved in major events and important decisions, and this ought to be reflected in our class.  I will be looking for clear evidence of engagement. 

 

On-Line Class Options:

 

Gas prices getting you down?  We do have access to excellent online class tools.  I am open to holding classes online occasionally, if everyone agrees to attend with a microphone (and these can be purchased for $10.00, if needed).  Gas prices a quite unpredictable as I right this.  I certainly do not want students choosing between their education and their gas tank.  Likewise, I can hold online office hours.  The online class technology works far better than you might realize.  I do not drive to GSU, so this does not matter to me either way, but this might be something I can do that really makes this class work better for students.

 

Class Paper:

 

 

Budget Research and Proposal Project

The research project will require a small group of students [3-4] to research a specific public policy area and prepare a budget request supporting a program initiative that advances the public interest. The group is to prepare a justification for the proposed initiative and a budget and be prepared to defend it to the class. Each student in the group will research a specific component of the project and submit an individual paper on the research conducted in support of the groupís project.

 

Developing a strategy for your request is also part of the job.  Students are encouraged to examine the literature on budget proposal strategies, consensus building, negotiation, power relations and confidence building in developing their proposal. It is important to make a sound argument for a needed initiative, but you also need to make a convincing case.  Convince your instructor and the class that you have an idea that will work. Consider the members of the class to be your audience--the person(s) who have the power to grant your request.

 

The research paper will constitute 20 percent of your grade and must show evidence of scholarship in reviewing pertinent literature, which might include the budgets of governments, agencies, of nonprofit organizations and/or articles from the political science and public administration journals. Reference citations are required. The presentation and defense of the budget proposal will be a group assignment and grade.

A 10 minute oral presentation is also required.  Evaluation criteria include whether your presentation fit the 10 minute time limit, the soundness of your request (plausibility and feasibility), and whether your appeal strategy is convincing and effective. In short, you need to present your plan convincingly in a limited amount of time.

The student audience members will be asked to vote on whether your idea should be funded and provide written feedback to each of the groups--copied to me, of course.

Every student must submit a written product on uLearn.  The presentation grade will be shared, but the project grade will be based on your own individual work.

 

Plagiarism or Cheating:

Students need to do their own work in this class.  This is essential to mastering the knowledge and skills that we cover.  Students plagiarizing or cheating in any form will face disciplinary action that could result in receiving an ďFĒ in this course, or suspension or expulsion from the University.  If a student is ever unclear as to what constitutes plagiarism or cheating regarding work on written or oral presentations, please consult the student handbook and/or your instructor.  It is the studentís responsibility to know the meaning of plagiarism and when it occurs.  The following is reprinted from the GSU Student Handbook: 

Plagiarism is presenting another personís work as oneís own.  Plagiarism includes any paraphrasing or summarizing of the works of another person without acknowledgement, including the summarizing of another studentís work as oneís own.  Plagiarism frequently involves a failure to acknowledge in the text, notes, or footnotes the quotation of the paragraphs, sentences, or even a few phrases written or spoken by someone else.  The submission of research or completed papers or projects by someone else is plagiarism, as is the unacknowledged use of research sources gathered by someone else when that use is specifically forbidden by the faculty member.  Failure to indicate the extent and nature of oneís reliance on other sources is also a form of plagiarism.  It is also plagiarism to reuse material you prepared for different courses in the same program.  The student is responsible for understanding the legitimate use of sources, the appropriate ways of acknowledging academic, scholarly or creative indebtedness, and the consequences of violating this responsibility.

Grading:

Final course grades will be determined as follows:

Course Component

Available Points

Participation 150
   

Homework Assignments

150

   

Mid-Term Exam

225

   

Budget Research and Proposal Project (including a presentation score of 50 points)

250

 

Final Exam

225

1000

Students must earn 900+ points to receive a grade of "A," 800+ points to earn a "B," and 700+ points to earn a grade of "C."  Incomplete grades will only be given for nonacademic reasons when advance arrangements have been made.  In this class, a B is the expected grade for good, competent work.  Grades in the A range are reserved for excellent work.  Excellent work goes beyond the minimum in some important way.  Plus and minus grades will be used in this class for final course grades when a grade is within 15 percent of a lower or higher grade.  For example, a final point total of 815 or less is a B-.  Likewise, a score of 885 or above is B+.  Note that there is no A+.

You will be able to check your scores on the class home page.  Grades on the exams and the written assignments will be presented on a 100 point scale, so that you can better evaluate your performance.  A weighted point total will be provided around the middle of the course, which will allow you to see how well you are doing.

Policy on Late Assignments:

Achieving our class goals requires steady progress, and penalties for late work help to keep everyone current.  The grade on any assignment turned in more than 10 minutes after the deadline (by my time) will be reduced one half of a letter grade (5 percent).  There will be another half letter grade reduction for each additional 6 hour period.  Assignments will not be accepted when they are more than two days late.

 

COURSE OUTLINE AND SCHEDULE

 

Class One, August 18

Introduction to the Course

Goals: Get introduced to budgeting in the public sector.  We will also do group assignments today, and we will keep these same groups for the entire semester.  Each group must have three or four members.  The groups will be involved in case presentations and the budget research and proposal assignment.

Note: Please complete the Budgeting Student Data Sheet, if you have not done this already.  You will find it on the uLearn page.  Click to download the Word form, fill it out, and email it back to me.  (This should be completed in Word for best results.)  Print the form and fill it out the old fashioned way, if needed.  You can scan it and email it, bring it to me, or fax it to 1-206-203-2056  This is a toll call. Also, you may practice submitting an assignment in uLearn after class tonight.  It is a good idea to practice before you need to submit an assignment in this way. 

 

Class Two, August 20

The Politics of Public Budgets

Goals: Learn about the the mix of politics, process, and constraints that determine budgetary outcomes.

Readings: The Politics of Public Budgeting, Chapter 1

 

Class Three, August 25

Exemplary Budget Practices

Goals: Learn about budget innovations that make a difference.

GFOA Best Practices Discussion 

Bring a completed GFOA Best Practices Assignment to class.

 

Class Four, August 27

Revenue Politics

Goals: Focus on Government Revenue Sources and the Politics of Raising Revenue.

Readings: The Politics of Public Budgeting, Chapter 2.

 

Class Five, September 3

 

Revenue Politics Part Two

 

Goals: Focus on Government Revenue Sources and the Politics of Raising Revenue.

 

Readings: The Politics of Public Budgeting, Chapter 2.

 

Pick a Case: Each group must pick a case from the current book chapter (or from somewhere else) to present to the class. Keep your presentation short, but these are some issues to address:

  • What are the most relevant facts in the story?  Do you have any additional information to add to the story?

  • What political or management problems are introduced?

  • Was it possible to avoid ? Can you recommend solutions to these problems?

  • Are there are lessons that we can learn from this case that could be applied to other management situations or that help us to better understand the policy process?

Apart from the book, you are free to bring in case examples from the news, or elsewhere, that fit with the current class topic.

 

Class Six, September 8

 

Developing an Expenditure Request

 

Goals: Learn how to develop a budget request using Microsoft Excel.

 

Class Seven, September 10

 

Developing an Expenditure Request

 

Goals: We will practice developing a budget request using Microsoft Excel.

 

Note: We will meet in a lab classroom (to be announced).

 

Deadline, September 12 at 11pm:  You must submit your answer for the budget request homework assignment. 

 

Class Eight, September 15

 

The Politics of Process

 

Goals: Learn about budget processes and how they can help or hinder political goals.

 

Readings: The Politics of Public Budgeting, Chapter 3.

 

Class Nine, September 17

The Politics of Process

Goals: Learn about budget processes and about how they can help or hinder political goals.

Readings: Case Assignment: Harvard Kennedy School Case 1344 (http://www.ksgcase.harvard.edu/casetitle.asp?caseNo=1344.0). 

 

Budget Process Discussion

 

Class Ten, September 22

 

The Dynamics of Changing Budget Processes

 

Goals: Learn about budget process change in response to political, social, and economic pressures.

 

Readings: The Politics of Public Budgeting, Chapter 4.

 

Class Eleven, September 24

The Dynamics of Changing Budget Processes

Goals: Learn about budget process change in response to political, social, and economic pressures.

Readings: The Politics of Public Budgeting, Chapter 4.

Pick a Case: Each group must pick a case from the current book chapter (or from somewhere else) to present to the class. Keep your presentation short, but these are some issues to address:

  • What are the most relevant facts in the story?  Do you have any additional information to add to the story?

  • What political or management problems are introduced?

  • Was it possible to avoid ? Can you recommend solutions to these problems?

  • Are there are lessons that we can learn from this case that could be applied to other management situations or that help us to better understand the policy process?

Apart from the book, you are free to bring in case examples from the news, or elsewhere, that fit with the current class topic.

 

Class Twelve, September 29    

 

Writing a Good Midterm

 

Goals: Learn about the writing expectations for this class.

 

Readings: Writing Tips for 3831.

 

Class Thirteen, October 1  

 

Midterm Exam

 

Exam: Your exam will be available on uLearn by 9:30am, and it is due by 12am on the 3rd.

 

No Class Today: Work on your midterm.  

 

Class Fourteen, October 6

 

Spreadsheets and Trend Analysis

 

Goals: We meet in our regular class to learn basic trend analysis.

 

Class Fifteen, October 8

 

Spreadsheets and Trend Analysis

 

Goals: We will learn how to analyze budget trends across time.

 

Note: We will meet in a lab classroom--We AYSPS 720.  

 

Deadline, October 11 at 11pm:  You must submit your answer for the budget request homework assignment. 

 

Class Sixteen, October 13

 

Project Work Session

 

Goals: Get a good start on the Budget Research Project.  Meet with your group members and share your project ideas with your instructor.

 

Class Seventeen, October 15

 

Expenditures: The Politics of Choice

 

Goals: We will learn how budget decisions are made.

 

Readings: The Politics of Public Budgeting, Chapter 5.

 

Class Eighteen, October 20

 

Expenditures: The Politics of Choice

Capital Budgeting Discussion 

Bring a completed Capital Budgeting assignment to class.

 

Class Nineteen, October 22

 

The Politics of Balancing the Budget

 

Readings: The Politics of Public Budgeting, Chapter 6.

 

Goals: We will learn about the politics and the challenges involved in balancing the budget.

 

Class Twenty, October 27

 

The Politics of Balancing the Budget

 

Readings: The Politics of Public Budgeting, Chapter 6.

 

Goals: We will learn about the politics and the challenges involved in balancing the budget.

Pick a Case: Each group must pick a case from the current book chapter (or from somewhere else) to present to the class. Keep your presentation short, but these are some issues to address:

  • What are the most relevant facts in the story?  Do you have any additional information to add to the story?

  • What political or management problems are introduced?

  • Was it possible to avoid ? Can you recommend solutions to these problems?

  • Are there are lessons that we can learn from this case that could be applied to other management situations or that help us to better understand the policy process?

Apart from the book, you are free to bring in case examples from the news, or elsewhere, that fit with the current class topic.

 

Class Twenty-One, October 29

 

Budget Execution: The Politics of Adaptation

 

Readings: The Politics of Public Budgeting, Chapter 7.

 

Goals: We will learn about how budgets may change during execution.

 

Class Twenty-Two, November 3

 

Budget Execution: The Politics of Adaptation

 

Readings: The Politics of Public Budgeting, Chapter 7

Pick a Case: Each group must pick a case from the current book chapter (or from somewhere else) to present to the class. Keep your presentation short, but these are some issues to address:

  • What are the most relevant facts in the story?  Do you have any additional information to add to the story?

  • What political or management problems are introduced?

  • Was it possible to avoid ? Can you recommend solutions to these problems?

  • Are there are lessons that we can learn from this case that could be applied to other management situations or that help us to better understand the policy process?

Apart from the book, you are free to bring in case examples from the news, or elsewhere, that fit with the current class topic.

 

Class Twenty-Three, November 5

Budget Implementation and Control

 

Readings: The Politics of Public Budgeting, Chapter 8.

 

Goals: We will learn about how budget impementation can go awry.

 

Class Twenty-Four, November 10

Budget Implementation and Control

 

Readings: The Politics of Public Budgeting, Chapter 8.

Pick a Case: Each group must pick a case from the current book chapter (or from somewhere else) to present to the class. Keep your presentation short, but these are some issues to address:

  • What are the most relevant facts in the story?  Do you have any additional information to add to the story?

  • What political or management problems are introduced?

  • Was it possible to avoid ? Can you recommend solutions to these problems?

  • Are there are lessons that we can learn from this case that could be applied to other management situations or that help us to better understand the policy process?

Apart from the book, you are free to bring in case examples from the news, or elsewhere, that fit with the current class topic.

 

Class Twenty-Five, November 12

Budgetary Decision-Making and Politics

 

Readings: The Politics of Public Budgeting, Chapter 9.

 

Goals: We will examine the political threads that run through all aspects of public budgeting.

 

Class Twenty-Six, November 17

Budgetary Decision-Making and Politics

Rubin, "Budgeting: Theory, Concepts, Methods, and Issues" (see uLearn). Goals: We will examine the political threads that run through all aspects of public budgeting.

 

Class Twenty-Seven, November 19

 

Budget Research Project Help Session

 

Goals: To make sure that students are on the right track with their class papers.

 

Note: I will be available in AYSPS 316 from 12-3 for indivdual and group meetings.

 

Class Twenty-Eight, November 24

 

No Class: Work on your papers today.

 

Class Twenty-Nine, December 1

Budget Project Presentations

Goals: Learn more about trend analysis from seeing how others addressed this assignment.

Note: Missing class or leaving early gets you a presentation score of zero. 

 

Class Thirty, December 3

Budget Project Presentations

Goals: Learn more about trend analysis from seeing how others addressed this assignment.

Note: Missing class or leaving early gets you a presentation score of zero. 

Deadline, December 6 at 11pm:  You must submit your Budget Project Contribution.  

 

Final Exam, Available at 9:30am on December 8th and due by 12am on December 12th.

Note: You must submit your exam on the Vista home page. 

 

 

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