Feds Get Behind Participatory Budgeting

Participatory budgeting (PB) has been tried on a limited local level in several cities across the United States. A new White House initiative indicates the practice may become a common way of determining how to distribute certain federal funds.

In its second Open Government National Plan of Action [PDF], which was released this week, the White House "signals [its] support for participatory budgeting, an approach to the assignment of government funds that asks citizens to first come up with good ideas for potential spending projects and then — in a rare demonstration of direct democracy — vote to decide which contenders are worthy of funding," reports Nancy Scola. 

Though the administration's thinking on the practice is said to be in its early days, "the inclusion of the model in the White House’s plan implies that the administration sees participatory budgeting as a plank in a fully fledged open government approach," writes Scola. "More than that, [a spokesperson] noted that the White House highlighted the availability of federal funds — community block grants, specifically — to fill the pool of monies that PB could potentially divvy up. That suggests an intriguing model: Actual voters managing robust federal funds on an ultra-local level."

Full Story: White House Gives Participatory Budgeting a Boost

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