A number of years ago I operated a commercial photographic service in downtown Athens. While I did some portraits and weddings, most of my business was publicity and advertising photography. I made pictures of houses for sale to be used in real-estate books, local rock bands and my favorite, local beauty contests.
One day a man in a necktie came in and gave me an assignment to photograph children being served by various government poverty programs. I asked him to be more specific about his requirements. He said it did not matter as long as I have him a bill for a specified amount of money. Just take as many pictures as it takes to use that amount.
My natural curiosity took over and I questioned his intent. He admitted that his government agency was approaching the end of the fiscal year and they had some money left over. That was not good, because if they reported a surplus, they would not get an increase in their budget, so they needed to spend that amount to justify their request for more money.
So I went to the sites he named and took a bunch of pictures of kids in government childcare centers, after school basketball and such. I printed the pictures, put them in a folder and delivered them, to his office along with a bill in the required amount. I got the check and put it in the bank.
That worked for him because his agency was funded by a continuation budget. That is, each year Congress would take the past year’s budget, and figure out how much to add to it. They paid little attention to the value of the work being done. They never looked to see if there were other agencies doing the same work. They just kept adding more money to the budget each year based on the amount spent the year before.
Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, who is pushing for a zero based budget, where each agency has its budget zeroed out each four years, requiring them to justify their budget at least that often. Governor Perdue vetoed the plan, but the state senate just voted to override that veto. The state house is expected to do the same, especially since the new governor Nathan Deal said he has no problem with the move.
I would like to see the federal government do something similar. Our federal budget is packed with duplicate and out-of-date agencies that continue to exist simply because their budgets are automatically renewed every year without having to justify their existence or usefulness.
President Obama took note of this problem in his State of the Union speech. He said that there are 12 agencies that deal with exports. Five others deal with housing policy. That is just a hint of the problem. Every time Congress passes a bill for more government spending, they create a whole new set of agencies and offices to manage it. They never check to see if there are already agencies in place to do the same work.
Then once an agency is set up, the current budget process keeps it alive far past its usefulness. Georgia’s legislature should move to zero-based budgeting. The U.S. Congress should do the same thing.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is email@example.com. His website can be accessed at http://www.frankgillispie.com/gillispieonline.
Zero Based Budgeting, ZBB, is a process or procedure and nothing more. ZBB was first introduced by Jimmy Carter as a miracle solution - you can see how well it has worked.
The problem is that no process will solve the budgetary problem. To get improvement we must first have the political will and capability to make the tough decisions and, if we had that going for us, we might not need to change the process.
FRANK : why do you not look into this and do article. Post below from another article but does go along with your article.
This dog comment I found interesting. Below is what I think post about but you never know. I will ask my BOC about this tax break and would like to know how much tax base we loss since 2007 for example due to this break. Since school tightening belt maybe our SCHOOL BOARD should ask BOC/BOA about this. If deserve tax incentive then correct. If some do not deserve this break why should people who pay their tax dollars be punished by this below new tax proposed. Food for thought is it not.
To the Qualified Voters of
Madison County School District, Georgia
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that on the 15th day of March, 2011, a special election will be held at the regular polling places in all the election districts of Madison County School District at which time there will be submitted to the qualified voters of Madison County School District for their determination the question of whether a special sales and use tax for educational