Zero-Base Budgeting

Shayne C. Kavanagh

Zero-base budgeting (ZBB) is a budgeting process that asks managers to build a budget from the ground up, starting from zero. However, ZBB has been the subject of some controversy over the years, owing primarily to questions about the value ZBB analysis provides, in light of the costs incurred to putting ZBB into practice. The goal of this paper is to define what ZBB means in current practice, describe the uses of ZBB, help public officials have a conversation in their organizations about the value of ZBB, and explore the important alternatives to ZBB.

Government Finance Officers Association and the City of Calgary, Alberta