You Are the Budget Hero

29. May 2009 – 15:01 by Dan Jellinek

In the process of editing a US academic paper for publication in next week’s E-Government Bulletin, I’ve just come across an interesting project developed in the US in the run-up to last year’s Presidential elections, which is a fun variation on some of the e-Participatory budgeting projects I’ve seen.

It’s called Budget Hero

It was produced by American Public Media, the largest producer of US public radio stations, and jointly funded by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Like other online participatory budgeting tools I’ve seen, it lets you find out information about a public budget – in this case, the vast US federal budget – and make your own adjustments to it, letting you see how your own political priorities might translate to budget decisions, and the effects that different spending allocations can have on current and future services.

The different thing about this project is that it seems much more developed than others I’ve seen, due to the level of funding it had. The interfaces are fun and cartoon-style, too, while preserving the complexity of decision-making. The underlying structure is well-researched, and the system looks ahead 10 years to the potential follow-through of spending decisions far in the future.

There is also a discussion area which allows users to share and discuss their budgets with others who have taken part.

I’d love to see someone have a go at this for the EU budget! I would like to have a go at reallocating some of the agricultural subsidies, myself :-)

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