Monday, March 21, 2011

The Mayor's budget survey--thumbs up or down?

On Friday, March 18, Mayor Gray launched a citizen’s survey on the District’s website, www.dc.gov, to gather input from residents about their priorities for FY 2012.   The survey also seeks ideas about how the FY 2012 could be balanced.   The short survey will remain online until April 1.

The good news is that Mayor Gray and his budget team officially asked for public input on the budget.   The bad news is the timing of the survey.   If the Gray Administration truly wanted ideas from the public, the survey should have been done in January and February when the results could have been considered, researched, massaged, and included. The survey notice is clear that the survey results "will help shape some final decisions about the budget."   How this is possible is unclear since the the budget timeline, included in the Office of Budget and Planning (OBP) budget instructions, has EOM pencils down March 9 and OBP pencils down March 23.

Doing the survey now feels like the administration is trying to engage the public but not understanding how the process works.   It also feels like a communications decision.   I'm actually not sure about what to take away from this.   Is this amateur hour, a rookie mistake or something else?   I give the mayor a -1.

No matter, take the survey.   It takes but a minute and you never know if your ideas will be included in the mayor's FY 2012 proposed budget.

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