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Local Governance Evolution: A Deep Dive into Colorado Springs' Budgetary Process

By Performance Institute
August 16, 2023


Embark on a captivating journey through Colorado Springs' changing local governance, as strategic planning and performance management converge in a groundbreaking budgetary process. Dive into the world of performance-based budgeting and its role in driving impactful resource stewardship for residents and visitors alike. 

  • The Changing Landscape of Colorado Springs 

Colorado Springs is undergoing dramatic changes due to a growing population and expanding jurisdictional boundaries. This shift is also reflected in how our local government operates. As I returned to the city, I began to examine the intersection of strategic planning and performance management within the budgetary process and how this blend can produce optimal outcomes for those living, working, and visiting Colorado Springs. 

  • Performance-Based Budgeting: A New Frontier 

Performance management and budgeting are becoming crucial for achieving impactful, intentional, and trusted stewardship of resources on the local level. A concept known as performance-based budgeting, which has been successfully implemented on the federal level, is now being adopted by local governments. Over the last decade, this framework has trickled down and been endorsed as a best practice by respected professional organizations like ICMA, the International City County Management Association, and GFOA, the Government Finance Officers Association. 

  • Strategic Planning and the Budgetary Process 

One critical question for municipalities is where they place the strategic plan within its budgetary framework or process. The method of linking strategic planning to the budgetary process can take many approaches, and the success of executing performance budgeting largely depends on the chosen method. Drawing from my experiences working for two very different local governments in Maryland, one being rural and the other urban, one with a commissioner government structure and the other with a county executive government structure, I've seen a variety of budgeting techniques implemented. However, there was often a disconnect. What was missing was performance management. 

  • The Evolution of Budgeting in Colorado Springs 

When I arrived in Colorado Springs two years ago, I took up the role of managing the implementation of activities of an ongoing strategic plan. In these two budget cycles, I've seen Colorado Springs lean towards a more presentational approach to performance budgeting, with elements of performance-informed budgeting. With the recent election of our city's first unaffiliated immigrant and Black mayor, I predict a shift toward fully performance-informed budgeting. 

  • Performance-Informed Budgeting: A Road to Success 

This approach would focus on well managerial impacts and changes in organizational behavior achieved through combining the use of budget and performance information. Local governments identified as leaders in performance management are typically adopters of performance-informed budgeting models. These models inform budgetary decisions with both performance and financial information, presenting goals, objectives, measures, and progress alongside each other. 

Conclusion: The Path Ahead for Colorado Springs 

In summary, the ongoing renaissance in Colorado Springs provides an exciting backdrop to further explore the convergence of strategic planning, performance management, and budgeting. As we navigate this evolution, our ultimate goal remains to best serve our residents, workers, and visitors, ensuring Colorado Springs continues to thrive. 

If you're interested in learning more about Budgeting, consider enrolling in our upcoming course Performance-Based Budgeting on Aug 17-18, 2023. Our course is perfect to learn the dos and don'ts of managing budgets to focus on results. Assess your agency's readiness for performance-based budgeting. 

About the author

Performance Institute


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