Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


Date of this Version



Published in Public Performance and Management Review, 2016, pp. 1-26.


Copyright © 2016 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Used by permission.


Citizen budgeting has become an increasingly common practice in municipalities across the United States. It offers an alternative to traditionally technocratic budgeting processes, and can connect and engage citizens in decisions about services and funding. Little research has been conducted on how local policymakers perceive citizen budgeting and outcomes. This study examined the benefits local policymakers identified following two successive years of a citizen-budgeting process in a mid-sized Midwestern city. Interviews with 23 local policymakers (a mayor, city council members, and city department heads) identified nine types of benefits produced by the citizen-budgeting process. The study demonstrates that identifying perceived benefits of citizen budgeting processes can shed light on the question of the extent to which such budgeting methods are citizen-driven, leader-driven, or a combination of both.