Process of the budget
As well as looking at what is contained in the budget it is important to look at how the budget is produced. For example, what information informs budget decision-making, who makes these decisions, how? These questions are important in understanding the rationale behind decisions and also how and who to influence to change the budget.
It can be useful to use a Power in the School Budget Chapatti Diagram to explore the power relations in a budget process more deeply. This involves placing a circle representing the school budget at the centre of the page and then thinking about all the education stakeholders, cutting out circles of different size to represent the power and influence they have in the budget making process. Laying these circles in relation to the school budget, with their placement representing geographical distance from the school helps map out who is involved in budget decision-making and how. It can also be useful to look at what it is that gives the different people power, and whether this power is positive. Does it help the system function effectively and democratically?
Questions to look at the budget development process:
- Who is involved in its production?
- Who approves it or controls it?
- Who monitors the budget? Who reports on it? Who is accountable for it?
- Where is the decision-making power?
- How much influence could you have on it?
- What choices are made producing this budget?
- Who contributes to / benefits from it and how?
- Who knows about it? Is it accessible?
- What is a good use of resources?
- What is the worst use of resources?
- What would you change about it and why?
- Is it transparent or does it hide things?
- Should anything be confidential – why?
- How important is this budget to you?