OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

The People's Budget: Citizen's Deciding How $$$ is Spent

Giving people power to decide how tax dollars are spent can increase the efficacy of the funds in addition to uncovering needs that might otherwise not be met.

Photo of DeletedUser
2 5

Written by DeletedUser

Participatory budgeting started in the late 1980's in Porto Alegre, Brazil and since then projects have cropped up all over the world. Giving citizens the power to allocate budgets allows them to focus on the challenges that they feel in their everyday lives (but which might be invisible to policy makers) creating the supports that government is meant to provide.

There are hundreds of case studies and guides to help localities design and implement participatory budgeting processes and is one of the best (open-source) repositories of these case studies.


Join the conversation:

Photo of DeletedUser


I think this is a great way to engage local communities and foster a sense of ownership in their future plans. Public participation was the goal that inspired a sort of board game style workshop in the Philadelphia region to solicit input for allocating transit infrastructure funding. Participants illustrated maps of the region with stickers that represented different infrastructure projects and were associated with different costs. They could only "spend" up to a specified total and had to come up with ways to prioritize projects within the budget. Something similar could be done to solicit input about the future implementation of neighborhood improvements or to identify large scale urban challenges and geographically specific solutions.

View all comments