by Krista Morrison, financial manager, describes the benefits of the City’s new budget system.
There have been many changes since the City last procured a budget system, the technology that allows us to develop, manage and report on the $1.5 billion City budget. Since the last budget system was selected 18 years ago, there have been four presidential elections, eggs were 88 cents a dozen and technology survived Y2K (year 2000).
While many City policies changed during this time, the budget system remained the status quo. In order to support various new requirements, staff resorted to creating less-than-efficient spreadsheets and many pivot tables. At the same time, however, the City made great strides in adopting new best practices in financial management and continuing to be a good steward of the public’s trust and finances. The City adopted fund balance and reserve policies in fiscal year 2012 in addition to new policies for debt, investments, revenue, street maintenance, budget transfers, quarterly budget reporting and structural balance.
The City also completed its first Five-Year Citywide Business Plan, which launched in November 2013. Through this resolution, the Council not only adopted the first annual Financial Strategic Plan, but also approved the Five-Year Planning Model as the tool to evaluate financial and operational alternatives through the planning and budget process. In April 2014, Kansas City residents approved a change in the City Charter requiring the production of the Financial Strategic Plan and the Five-Year Planning Model every year. Most significantly, the charter change marked an important first step in breaking a pattern of single-year fixes, often without a long-term view. The model continues to expand to link objectives, service level outcomes and key performance indicators.
The new system selected, CGI Advantage® Performance Budgeting, is actually a current version of the budget system the City has used for decades. The new system will launch in September, just in time for the Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget development. We are confident our selection will take the City leaps forward in streamlining processes and reporting for the financial management best practices implemented. Below are just a few of the benefits the City will gain:
- Replace the current system with an integrated online enterprise solution
- Allow for creation of independent salary projection scenarios and the ability to compare the results
- Enhance reporting and analysis capabilities
- Integrate budget dollars with performance measures
- Provide capabilities for budget document preparation from the system
Most individuals reading this blog do not have experience building a $1.5 billion City budget. I understand that you might be thinking…sounds good, but what does it mean for me? First, it means efficiencies in the City’s budget process will be gained. Instead of experienced Finance staff completing data entry or creating spreadsheets to prepare a budget or quarterly reporting, that staff will focus on analysis of the data. It also means accountability. A system with the ability to integrate budget dollars with performance measures will allow the City to link funding requests or changes to performance impact. Each allow for enhanced reporting to Kansas City’s elected officials and citizens.
A small investment in upgrading the budget system technology will deliver big returns to Kansas City in regard to efficiency, accountability and transparency. As the City looks forward to the development of the FY 2017-18 Budget, we hope you’ll engage in the process through citizen work sessions beginning in September. Follow the Budget Office on Twitter at @KCMOBudget or visit our website for upcoming announcements of public input opportunities.
Previous budget blogs are archived here.