Results-based Budgeting

Results-based Budgeting aligns programs and services to the outcomes that Albertans have identified as priorities

Governments are facing increased pressure to improve service levels for their citizens while dealing with significant resource constraints. Imposing new taxes seems like an obvious solution. However, some governments have started looking at the outcomes — rather than the inputs — of their activities to address this challenge.

Implementing a budgeting system based on results and outcomes is not a new idea. Countries including the UK, US, Australia, Denmark, Sweden and Korea have all undertaken program reviews of this type in some form. Although every country has had a slightly different approach, the adoption of these initiatives has been driven by common goals to improve political accountability and drive an efficient resource allocation process.

Governments implement this system by assessing how much their programs and services benefit society — and if the outcomes are desired at all. In Alberta, this approach is known as Results-based Budgeting (RBB). RBB is about ensuring that government programs and services are relevant and are being delivered in the most effective and efficient way possible where:

  • Relevance is a measure of the degree of influence a program has on achieving defined outcomes
  • Effectiveness is the extent to which a program’s outcomes were achieved, or are expected to be achieved, taking into account their relative importance, and
  • Efficiency is a measure of how economically resources or inputs, such as funding, expertise and time are converted to results.

The government purposefully allows participants to tailor the process to their specific requirements. As a result, different approaches are being used. Download this PDF for ten preliminary observations on what has worked well in these approaches and what you may want to consider for the future.