Budgets are plans of projected revenues and expenditures for a given fiscal year. So, a budget is a plan for one calendar year. The differing situation is the beginning of the government year and when it ends. Most governments use annual budgets set. In the United States of America, only 21 states use biennial budget cycles. The majority of other states have their fiscal year ending on June 30. However, this does not mean there are no exceptions, such as Baltimore and Chicago, which end their year on September 30 every year. Therefore, a government agency chosen for this study will be the police department of Baltimore.
In financial terms, budget cycle refers to the annual period within which a grant is proposed, submitted, approved and affected. Public budget cycle is the interval between administration issuance of recommendations and the attached proposed budget.
Public funds cycle
Budget cycle comprises four steps, such as preparation and submission, approval, execution, analysis and evaluation.
- Preparation and submission
The preparation and submission period proves the most daunting variety of budgeting. This is because of its subjectivity to reforms activities. Survey of reformulating construction procedures abound. Although institutionalized departments may not modify and process, and substantive contents may vary significantly from one year to another.
Budget preparation differs in different jurisdictions. In the United States, budget reforms have called for administrative budgetary. The chief of the police has a duty of coming up with a budget and submitting it to the legislative house.
Budgetary construction starts in spring (the US Federal government), but for some larger agencies it starts earlier. Agencies start by assessing their programs and considering, which programs require review and whether new programs should be recommended. (Robert and Ronald1977)
The next step is the presidential guidelines concerning income and acceptance. These guidelines help agencies come up with unique budgets. The budget is to be submitted to OMB by summer. All through fall and the following year, OMB members evaluate the agencies’ requests and hold a hearing session. At the hearing, the police spokesperson represents all the police departments. The president only gets involved in budget building during later stages. These stages are usually in January and soon after the budget gets submitted to the Congress.
- Appropriation of Bills and Revenue
A legislative body approves the budget after its planning. It could be the Congress, state legislature, a county board of supervisors, city council or a school board. The crucial role of the legislature in the United State goes back to the American Revolution with its slogan “No taxation without representation”. Legislature reviews the proposed budget. It has an exclusive access to the police initial budget request. The access facilitates differentiation between the project and compliance in the previous budget. Local legislature may contain preliminary voting, but the adaptation of the budget is on one-vote basis.
The Congress is allowed to execute some improvements in the budget, but not any at any time, up the contents on the budget.
In preparation and approval phase, a couple of issues dominate budget debate. If revenue decline is predicted, then closing the gap between income and expenditure is what the point of the legislature is.
The time allocated for budget review varies across countries, but is close to three months as per recommended international standards (OECD). The outcome of the budget strategy depends on the location of the reversion point. That is what happens if the budget is not approved by the Congress by the stipulated deadline. This means the allocation of the previous fiscal remains in effect. (Rick 2008).
Annette (2002) explains that OMB (office of management and budget), acting as a supervisor, must distribute funds according to congressional appropriations. The US Treasury and FRS play a vital role in the intergovernmental financial transactions required and finance finances in case of a deficit. Budget execution is the budget fiscal year. This phase for a long time had been assumed by the executive. Currently, the Congress has taken initiatives of intervening in checking transactions engaged.
The Congress must give a dispensation before the police department of Baltimore spends funds. The department must comply with the limits and prescribed purposes. Appropriation of funds is made in four instalments.
- Audit and Evaluation phase
Both the Congress and executive have a stake in auditing and evaluating budgets. The Congress is interested in ensuring that its legislated requirements are honoured, and the executive in properly carrying out its responsibilities. The executive is interested in its employees obeying the laws and is concerned with spending and sourcing. Failure to comply may lead to prosecution. (Andrew Gray and Bob,1993)
Relevance of budgets
Purpose of budgetary in any institution, be it a governmental or non-governmental organization, is to allocate scarce resources among competing demands. This is done to accomplish societal goal and objectives (for government agencies). Those societal goals are expressed by people who should work within the context of a set process known as the budgetary system. (Robert and Ronald, 1977)
Fundamentally, a budget is a political tool. It examines policies and priorities set in place against availability of public revenues. It is also a means of ensuring effectiveness and efficiency in government projects. Presence of a federal budget ensures that the project progress evaluated and modified at least annually, if not semi-annually.
Budgets are necessary in prevention of governmental wastages. They stipulate limitation on the spending patterns of governmental agencies.
Every government entity must account for its spending patterns. Funds should be used in accordance with the purposes they have been allocated for. A change in the above calls for fair procedures to be followed. Accountability standard ensures there is no misappropriation of public resources.
Budgets shrink manipulation of funds in the police department since every spending must be justified and clear.