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The National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting recently gave final approval to a set of recommendations to enhance state and local government budget practices. The council is a cooperative undertaking on the part of associations representing elected officials and the professional managers of local and state governments to make a joint comprehensive assessment of the current practice of state and local budgeting. It has developed nearly 60 budget practices covering the planning, development, adoption, and execution phases of the budget.

The practices as set forth by the council are intended to serve as models, not mandatory requirements, and are sufficiently flexible to allow for varying local circumstances. This national advisory council was created at the recommendation of two precursor bodies; a national symposium hosted by Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) in January 1993 and an interorganizational task force that concluded its work in December 1993. Symposium and task force members found that too little information on effective budgetary practices exists and that an effort to identify and share recommended practices in budgeting was needed, leading eight state and local government organizations to create the council. The practices are intended to educate governments and budget participants about the potential of budget systems; help governments assess the adequacy of their own budgetary systems; provide guidance to governments that want to improve their budget processes; and promote education, training, and further experimentation and research on techniques that work.

The practices and an accompanying paper describing the framework that has guided development of the practices are the products of a three-year effort by the council to identify noteworthy budget practices and examples, as well as a two-month public comment period this fall. Copies of the recommended practices and paper are available on the GFOA Website: gfoa.org/nacsIb, which is also accessible by hyper-text link from the web pages of the following associations:

Association of School Business Officials International: asbointl.org

Council of State Governments: csg.org

International City/County Management Association: icma.org/othersites

National Association of Counties: naco.org

National Conference of State Legislatures: ncsl.org

The U.S. Conference of Mayors: usmayors.org/uscm/uscm_projects_services/management-improvement/

The practices will be published and available in hard copy format, early in 1998. Examples illustrating how some governments are carrying out the practices will be released separately, shortly thereafter. Participating associations have agreed to engage in cooperative dissemination efforts with other members of the council. The council will go out of business after the publication of the practices and dissemination plans have been completed. The council was formed in the spring of 1995 by eight organizations representing state and local governments: the Association of School Business Officials International, Council of State Governments, Government Finance Officers Association, International City/County Management Association, National Association of Counties, National Conference of State Legislatures, National League of Cities, and The U.S. Conference of Mayors. Other members include representatives of the public finance industry, public employees unions, and academia. *

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