GCB 327, Monday, 4:30-7:00pm
PUBLIC BUDGETING AND FINANCE
you pay taxes to the federal government, you help pay the
interest on trillions of dollars in U.S. debt. Find out why
we pay the taxes we do, how this money is spent, who is slicing
the national budget pie and why some slices are bigger than
others. In this course, students will learn about the technical
and political nature of public budgeting. In addition, students
will complete exercises of both a theoretical
and applied nature. These include examination of current budget
issues, assessment of recent academic research in the field
of public budgeting and finance, and analysis of budgeting
trends in a governmental or non-profit agency or program of
the student's choice. This work requires student exposure
to word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software.
The primary focus of the course is on state and local
government finance, the federal government also receives a
Robert D. Lee, Ronald W. Johnson,
and Philip G. Joyce (2007).
Public Budgeting Systems,
8th edition. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury,
Massachusetts. ISBN: 0-7637-3129-3.
book should be available in the university bookstore. I also
recommend shopping on the Web to find the best prices.
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.
should be able to describe and explain the theoretical foundations
of public budgeting in the United States.
Students should be able to
an understanding of the political, legal, economic, social and
cultural factors influencing budgets and budget making in America.
should be able to describe and explain the technical nature
of public budgeting in the United States, including the timetables
and rules typically used at the three levels of government.
should be able to explain and compare the political aspects
of budgeting with rational methods of resource allocation in
the United States.
should be able to assess the financial status of public
should be able to effectively use Microsoft Excel to develop
complex spreadsheets, meaningful analyses, and sophisticated
This class serves a specific and vital function
in the MPA curriculum, and the content is set in a general way by
the department faculty. Minimal overlap is expected with PAUS 8141, which is a required class for all MPA students and the
PAUS 8501 class that is required for the management and finance
concentration. The relationship between these different
courses does need occasional monitoring, so please let me know if
you have any questions or concerns about the content covered in this
set of courses.
will hold formal office hours from 2pm-4pm on Monday 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
Stay on the line, if I am away, and you will get my voice mail.
Electronic mail can be sent via the Internet to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also Email me from our WebCT Vista home page. Fax
messages can be sent to 404-413-0104. Online office hours
are available on request for students with access to a computer
and a headset microphone.
your instructor here.
On the Web:
The course home page can be found at this
location. You will have problems using Vista 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
your instructor immediately if these resources are inadequate in
Students who are not familiar
with spreadsheets are strongly encouraged to complete at least the
Level One Excel training offered by Element K
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
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 third class. The offer is for 10 points out of the 1000
points available in this course.
This is 1 percent of your final grade.
and the Final Exam:
There will be a midterm
and a final exam in this class. Both exams are take-homes, but
they are structured differently. The midterm is a traditional
essay exam with three questions that students will have roughly
three full days to complete. Completed
midterm exams should be in the range of 10-12 double-spaced pages.
The final is more along the lines of a project assignment. The
final requires students to develop a recommendation on an issue that
relates directly to the material covered in the second half of the
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.
We will talk more about how to write a good exam in class.
There are a
number of homework assignments in this class, and they must be
submitted on the uLearn class home page. The assignments are
Creating a Budget Request
Exercise (30 Points): Develop a budget
request for a local government development department.
Submit this on uLearn.
GFOA Best Practices Exercise
Learn about the best
practices identified by the Government Finance Officers
Association. Bring this to class.
for a Job Training Program Exercise
(40 Points): Develop a spreadsheet to analyze
the funding challenges facing a job training program. Submit this
of Grace Exercise (20 Points): Study the budgetary trends in the State
of Grace, using deflators and accounting for inflation.
Submit this on uLearn.
Squares Trend Line Exercise
(20 Points): Develop a least squares trend analysis
to estimate future energy consumption trends. Submit this
Capital Budgeting Exercise (20 Points):
Recommend capital budgeting priorities for a municipality.
Bring this to class.
Keep in mind
that the homework exercises in this class are intended to be
challenging. Some do have specific correct answers, but this
is not always the case. Full credit is given for answers that
are careful and thoughtful--well reasoned out. Do not get
anxious if you do not see a clear answer. Nor should you worry
if someone else tells you that they did something different.
Work each exercise out on your own and lay out your thoughts and/or
analysis in an organized way.
The GFOA and capital budgeting exercises (second
and last in the list) are sheets that need to be filled
out, and you will be able to download an electronic copy of the
pages from uLearn. The completed assignment 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.
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, they ask questions when other students are
presenting, and they arrive at class with questions prepared when
there are guest speakers in class. 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, 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
It is often necessary to
assess the financial condition of an organization, both
at the present time and for the foreseeable future.
For this assignment, you must choose a government,
single agency or nonprofit organization and conduct an
in-depth analysis of revenues and expenditures for the
past six years. You are responsible for doing whatever
research is needed to completely address all the
required components of your report. It is likely
that you can get the appropriate legislation, fiscal
data, and budget documents off the Web, but personal
interviews might also be useful. The approach you
use is up to you.
Consider this to be a consulting report for a firm
that has been asked to develop this analysis for a
potential investor (as in the case of an economic
development project) or a contributor. If you are
looking at a single agency, you may want to think of
this project as as a component of a financial audit
being conducted by GAO or a similar oversight agency.
Focus your work on providing the information that your
client needs to make appropriate management decisions.
Tailoring your work for a specific audience will help
you to develop a far more powerful analysis (and get a
Your final product should be no longer than 14 typed
pages, double-spaced, not including title page, tables,
footnotes, references, appendices, etc. Cite the
source clearly for any tables or figures that you do not
complete yourself. Please use standard margins and
a standard font size. You may complete this
project with a partner, but this is something that
you will need to arrange. More information about
this assignment will be provided on the class home page
at an appropriate time.
Each trend analysis should contain the following
describe the organization mission, goals, and
Describe tax and
non-tax revenue sources;
categories and trends (using appropriate tables and
budgetary process--political, incremental, crisis
oriented, results oriented, or a hybrid;
future prospects and challenges--regarding
revenues, expenditures, budget process, or other
the fiscal capacity and stability of the
organization you studied. This is an analysis,
and you examined a financial system. What did
you learn about how well your organization
functions? Can your organization complete its
mission and attain goals and objectives?
Apart from the specific instructions given here, the
reports will be graded on how well they conform to the
writing tips for
8161. Think of the tips more as requirements than
A 10 minute oral presentation is also required.
Each presentation should effectively summarize the
highlights of a trend analysis, and this will account
for 15 points. An additional 5 points will be
based on how well the presentation conforms to the 10
minute time limit. The final 5 points will be
based on the utility of your analysis for decision
makers. (This is much easier if you have defined
an audience.) You need to focus on the most
important information to get a top grade.
Your final paper must be submitted
as an assignment on uLearn. Everyone must submit a
paper, even if the paper was completed with a partner.
to do their own work in this class. This is essential to
mastering the knowledge and skills that we cover.
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 consult 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:
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
this class, all work is expected to be completed individually
except the Trend Analysis Report, which may be
completed by a student and their partner.
Simple questions on the homework assignments are
OK, but any assistance that might raise questions about
authorship is totally unacceptable.
course grades will be determined as follows:
Analysis (including a presentation score of 25 points)
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+.
that there is no A+.
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.
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
Introduction to the
Goals: Get introduced
to budgeting in the public sector.
Readings: Public Budgeting
Systems (PBS), chapters 1-2.
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,
You can scan it and email it, bring it to me, or fax it
to 1-206-203-2056 This is a toll call.
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.
Learn about budget processes
for different levels of government.
Readings: Public Budgeting
Systems (PBS), Chapter 3; Writing Tips for 8161.
Harvard Kennedy School Case 1344 (http://www.ksgcase.harvard.edu/casetitle.asp?caseNo=1344.0).
Note: We will discuss how to produce written work for
8161. Also, note that we are off next week for the Labor Day Holiday.
Creating a Budget
We will complete the Creating a
Budget Request homework exercise in class and also talk about the
upcoming Budgeting for a Job Training Program exercise
that is due on September 25th. I recommend that
you experiment with the budget request spreadsheet
before class. The instructions are great.
We will meet
in room 720 of the AYSPS building.
Deadline, September 11 at 11pm: You must submit your
answer for the Creating a Budget Exercise.
Learn about the different
types of revenues that are used to fund governments.
Budgeting Systems (PBS), Chapters 4.
Homework: Bring a
completed GFOA Best Practices Assignment to class.
Learn about the different analytical tools that can
be used to help focus budgets on policy goals.
Public Budgeting Systems (PBS), Chapter 6.
Defining Equity (see
Deadline, September 25 at
11pm: You must submit your answer for the Budgeting
for a Job Training Program homework assignment.
and Trend Analysis
Goals: Learn to conduct a basic trend analysis.
State of Grace Exercise; Johnson and Welch, Graphical
We will meet
in room 720 of the AYSPS building.
Deadline, October 2 at 11pm: You must submit your
answer for the State of Grace homework assignment.
Approval and Execution
Learn how budget plans are finalized and implemented.
Public Budgeting Systems (PBS), Chapter 10.
Preparing a Budget
will not meet in our classroom. You may take the
exam at the location of your choice.
will be able to access the exam on the uLearn home page
and this is also where the exam will be submitted.
Deadline, October 16
You must submit your midterm exam prior to the deadline.
Advanced Budget Analysis (Trend Analysis
Learn how to analyze the budget and spending patterns
of a government or nonprofit agency.
Liner, "Projecting Local Government Revenue"
will meet in room 720 of the AYSPS building.
at 11pm: You must post your answer for the least squares
homework assignment prior to the deadline. There
will be a special bulletin board for this purpose.
Financial Management: Accounting, Auditing, and
Learn how budgets are implemented and get introduced
to techniques for interpreting government financial
Public Budgeting Systems (PBS), Chapter 11; Case Assignment:
Harvard Kennedy School Case 949
There is also a very informative supplement for this
Class Eleven, November
Capital Assets: Planning and Budgeting, Analysis, and
Learn about how to make good decisions about capital
Public Budgeting Systems (PBS), Chapter 12.
Homework: Bring a
completed Capital Budgeting assignment to class.
Finance and Debt Management
Learn about the means for financing capital projects.
Systems (PBS), Chapter 13; Smith, "Position Paper: Know the Arguments" (see uLearn).
Case Assignment: Harvard Kennedy School Case 1730 (http://www.ksgcase.harvard.edu/casetitle.asp?caseNo=1730.0).
Learn more about trend analysis from seeing how others
addressed this assignment.
class or leaving early gets you a presentation score
on your papers...no class tonight.
instructor will be available in 316 AYSPS to address any
questions you may have.
Develop a more refined perspective on the factors that
drive the budgeting process. You will also learn
more about why reform efforts are difficult.
Readings: Rubin, "Budgeting: Theory, Concepts, Methods,
and Issues" (see
There will be guest speakers in class tonight.
Also, the final will be distributed in class, and it
will be discussed.
Due on Monday, December 8 at
must submit your exam on the Vista home page.
You must also submit your trend analysis report on the Vista homepage. Everyone must submit a report, even if they were part of a two-person team.
to the Top