Budgeting is the process of allocating finite resources to the prioritized needs of an organization, and it is a major element of financial data activity. In most cases, the budget represents the legal authority for a governmental entity to spend money. The adoption of a budget in the public sector implies that a set of decisions has been made by the governmental entity's governing board and administrators that culminates in matching its resources with its needs. As such, the budget is a product of the financial planning process.
The budget also provides an important tool for the control, evaluation, and use of resources. Using the accounting system to enact the will of the governing board, administrators are able to execute and control activities that have been authorized by the budget and to evaluate financial performance on the basis of comparisons between budgeted and actual operations. Thus, the budget is implicitly linked to financial accountability and relates directly to the financial reporting objectives established by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).
The planning and control functions inherent to any public entity, including schools, underscore the importance of sound budgeting practices for the following reasons:
The link between financial planning and budget preparation gives the budget document a unique role in governmental organizations. Budgets in the public arena are often considered the definitive policy document because an adopted budget represents the financial plan used by a government to achieve its goals and objectives. When a unit of government legally adopts a financial plan, the budget has secured the approval of the majority of the governing board and reflects
In an education environment, budgeting is an invaluable tool for both planning and evaluation. Budgeting provides a vehicle for translating educational goals and programs into financial resource plans—that is, developing an instructional plan to meet student performance goals should be directly linked to determining budgetary allocations. The link between instructional goals and financial planning is critical to effective budgeting and enhances the evaluation of budgetary and educational accountability.