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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, September 26, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesFYI: SEN. RONALD E. RUSSELL

FYI: SEN. RONALD E. RUSSELL

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Performance Budgeting, Part I: One Senator's View and Commentary* Performance based budgeting is the allocation of resources based on an assessment of delivery of services by an entity. How does the Legislature of The Virgin Islands evaluate the performance of the various divisions, agencies, entities, and groups that appear before the senate's finance committee? Title 2, Chapter 2, Section 27 provides for Performance Reporting. ur laws also state that the Legislature shall [a]dopt legislation to uthorize the implementation of a comprehensive program and financial plan. 2 .I.C. §21(3) (Lexis 2003). The budget is an annual budget and our laws are very clear and specific regarding the procedure for sound fiscal decisions and management. (See 2 V.I.C. Chapter 2 for laws governing the entire process). Probably to the detriment of proper planning, Senators are elected every two years. As each Legislature is formed, various Senators, as the majority dictates, assume responsibilities of the existing committees of the institution. The Finance Committee presides over the budget hearings and gathers information for budget support.
At recent budget hearings, each entity which appeared before the Senate made presentations referring to the services provided, projections as to needed services, and areas needing improvement. Proper evaluation depends on statistics to support the information provided; the community'' s impression
of an activity, service, or function; whether actual concerns were addressed; and the tangible results of initiatives implemented. The responses of the representatives to the Senators'' questions were carefully evaluated during the overall presentation. The Senators received documentation supporting the various programs under review including the success and failures of the entity because of decisions made; research planned or completed; how money
was spent, and other various initiatives.
The practical effect of policies, decisions, and activities on the community is an important component of evaluation. The above information is crucial for the legislature to make wise decisions. The final decisions would be affected by the available information and past experience.
In performing one of its primary functions, budget overview and adoption, the Legislature must, necessarily, use some sort of objective criteria to evaluate the entities which appear before it. Any information provided aids in the ultimate determination as to what is a fair, responsible and appropriate budget, i.e., allocation of money, for the territory. For government to function by providing basic services for its residents, the allocation of resources must accurately reflect the needs of all. Money drives our Republican – Capitalistic modeled unincorporated United States territory. Thus, the allocation of money determines, in part, the future viability of a particular program or entity. To facilitate the process the Legislature should create a scorecard, i.e., a rating system, which assesses each entity and the services it provides. Financial appropriations would be based on the success of the program or entity including its performance, and whether it is needed in the community.
An "A" rating would mean that 100% of the entity'' s requested needs would be met with a major increase in funding to promote and allow for expansions in service.
A "B" rating would mean that 100% of requested needs would be met with a minor increase to promote and allow for implementation of new initiatives. A "C" rating would mean that 100% of the requested needs would be met but with re-allocations and policy shifts to promote improvement.
A "D" rating would result in a reduction in the entity' s allocation as a result of waste, mismanagement, and general failure to meet its objectives.
An "F" rating would mean possible elimination of program, severe reductions in allocations, re-allocations based on policy changes, or merger with another other agency or entity.
We believe in proper management and responsible allocations of our resources. With these guidelines and the willingness to listen, compromise and make responsible decisions we can achieve a Balanced Budget for the territory while meeting the needs of all our residents.
*This is Part One of a two part commentary. Part Two will discuss the actual
evaluation tools and a rating of each agency based on objective criteria.

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