Public Spending & Efficiency

I had a conversation which was focused on manufacturing and efficiency today.  Efficiency, when speaking of technical production equates to measuring and comparing the useful work completed by the machine/process in relation to the total energy expended or heat taken in. The measure of efficiency within the technical dynamic is very quantifiable. But is efficiency in public spending so clearly quantifiable?  Should it be?

Public spending of tax dollars is measured in a myriad of ways that can vary wildly from government entity to government entity.  The question is why is it generally allowable for governments to develop a budget, without developing a correlating strategic plan with benchmarks?  You see the opposite often in nonprofits.  A nonprofit is more likely to have an annual or strategic plan without a fund development plan.  In both cases, aren’t both needed to measure what success looks like within and outside of government walls? How can you hold folks accountable if there are no benchmarks to do so?

Some States do require, prior to State fund disbursement that the local entities provide an annual plan.  Is this micro-managing?  I’d say it is not, instead it is representative of a commitment to responsible distribution of public funds.  How can governments, of any size, determine what is of value, what return on investment is, and/or what merits additional evaluation if budgets are not running along side measurable benchmarks and targeted outcomes?  And how can government workers and/or public officials justify decisions without qualifying and quantifying use of public funds?

 

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