Activity-Based Budgeting: Creating a Nexus Between Workload Essay

Pages: 6 (1993 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

¶ … Activity-Based Budgeting: Creating a Nexus Between Workload and Costs" examines how the traditional activity of budgeting for any organization can evolve into a more practical and efficient system through the use of activity-based budgeting. The concept aims to "link activities to costs, giving executives a better understanding of the full costs of service and resource allocation" (Shane 2). Essentially, relationships between costs and activities are the fundamental element of later budgeting strategies that aim to solve potential issues based on needs that arise within those relationships.

This article was an interesting evaluation of how activity-based budgeting can help solve real problems in a number of industries, but with law enforcement especially. Using such strategies that pinpoint particular activities help make members of an organization using funds accountable for the progress of their activities. This is a huge benefit, as there are so many problems within modern budgeting.

Using activity-budgeting strategies can help improve goals of police management. Funding can be traced to particular activities, and thus productivity based on budgetary elements can be highlighted, with problems addressed in a more efficient manner. This will make sure that law enforcement organizations have the funds they need, without draining budgets on activities that are not in need of extra funding.

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The Los Angeles Times article discusses how the Los Angeles Police Department has had issues in fitting overtime into annual budgets. It clearly shows that the City Council did not believe the department was handling overtime appropriately, and was allowing for officers to take more overtime than the budget could handle. The department limit was originally set at 1.2 million hours in 1994, however recent accounts show much more overtime paid out, therefore stressing the already stretched budget.

TOPIC: Essay on Activity-Based Budgeting: Creating a Nexus Between Workload Assignment

Before reading this article, I knew that overtime was a part of police budgets, but I did not know the extent to how much it could stress an already tight budget. I can see hw the city of Los Angeles could want to encourage less overtime hours, but at the same time with the clear lack of enough police, how can the city avoid incurring so much overtime? As such, it might be better to hire more officers, so that funding for increased personnel can be better tracked within the budget.

New York City is a huge urban icon here in the United States. Within the last few decades, the city had gotten a very negative reputation in terms of the crime rates. The city had seen an increase in both petty and larger crimes. A number of strategies had been discussed within the City Council and the NYPD in terms of how to handle these increases in crimes, but yet none were actually executed -- that is until William Bratton stepped in as the commissioner of the New York Police Department in 1994.

Part of the inability to implement more innovative and effective strategies was the bureaupathology which was essentially reducing the overall efficiency of the department as a whole. With the theories regarding controlling quality of life crimes in order to better combat larger offenses being so new, there were definitely insecurities within the NYPD on how to capitalize on their successes. These insecurities are a clear foundation for failure according to Thompson in the description of how detrimental bureaupathologies can be. This led the NYPD to try to over control, leading to an overly centralized set up of the department that was increasing its overall inefficiencies, rather than actually combating crime -- just as Thompson outlines in his work.

Bratton had to focus on how to implement strategies to combat all sorts of crime, from the smallest to the largest offenses, in an effective way avoiding NYPD's insecurities that had hindered them in the past. Essentially, there is a theory which illustrates how when a community accepts minor crime and other activities that impact the overall quality of life, that opens up the door for more incidences of larger offenses. Thus, Bratton was focused on generating strategies that not only aimed to combat serious crime, but also to involve the communities in New York to curb smaller offenses that might act as a gateway to more serious crimes. Involving the community was one of the most crucial elements on Bratton's plan, as it would help increase the potential to stop incidences of crime before they got to such a serious state.

There were a number of very decisive actions taken by Bratton to address the various issues in attempting to reduce crime rates all over the city. He worked within the system to generate a more innovative approach by decentralizing the bureaucracy of the NYPD which empowered precinct commanders. With greater power in local department hands, individual strategies were able to take shape that were much more tailored to the needs of individual neighborhoods, which also increased the overall involvement of those neighborhoods. This helped localize power in order to better tailor strategies to specific neighborhood needs, rather than being lumped together as a whole as they were done in the bureaupathology that was the NYPD before Bratton. Moreover, Bratton made it clear that responsibility was key. He made the newly empower precinct commanders much more accountability for their actions and the success of strategies they had implemented. This goal was reached through the use of the ComStat system, which was a management theory that accounts for crime on a weekly basis or the NYPD's 76 precincts through compiling crime patterns and police activities. This pinpointed specific problem areas which could be better addressed in real time, rather that waiting for the chain of bureaucracy to address the issue. This helped increase the overall productivity of local departments and continue to get local communities involved.

Most law enforcement agencies across the United States hold a sense of honor to their roles as protectors and enforcers of the law. However, there are some which are clearly affected by the negative elements associated with a department plagued by bureaupathology. Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Police Department is one law enforcement agency that is notorious for having been brought down by the scandals resulting from a clear bureaupathology.

The LAPD is a huge agency that covers some of the most populated areas in all of California. However, the structure of the law enforcement agencies have often rendered the department as a whole as a bureaupathology. Essentially, power within the department is notorious for being heavily centralized, therefore isolating the actually communities from the strategies they need that are more tailored to their own unique environments. The department has a negative reputation for being clogged up by administrative measures and having to include the whole bureaucracy in small decisions, rendering them vastly ineffective. Moreover, the bureaupathology in the LAPD has led to major scandals, where abuses of power were taken to new heights, as in the case of the gang unit in the Rampart Division, where corruption ran wild because of the structure of the department and its ability to remain outside of its own law.

There are a number of recommendations that could be encouraged in order to correct these pathologies and create a more effective department that better serves the people of Los Angeles. The city is an incredibly diverse urban landscape, and as such, each local neighborhood can be extremely different to ones just a ways down the block. In order not to repeat the same mistakes that were created out of the department's bureaupathology, it is important to empower local police commissioners in their individual divisions so that they have greater power in creating and executing strategies that are more tailored to the local environment. This would also decrease the administrative lag in attempting to involve the top tiers of the department in more localized affairs, allowing for faster action and more efficient steps to increase the LAPD's ability to protect and serve the citizens of Los Angeles.

O'Hara's work is an interesting glimpse into the darker side of law enforcement agencies in the modern era. It provides clear arguments that are backed up by actual events as evidence. Thus, O'Hara provides convincing arguments that illustrate how inefficiency, reliance on bureaucratic structures, and corruption can taint an entire law enforcement agency.

In his work, O'Hara examines issues surrounding why law enforcement agencies fail. He examines particular incidences where law enforcement agencies took too much power, and thus failed to actual serve and protect the various people under their charge. The book explores examples of failed enforcement strategies, and how exaggerated power, bureaucracy inefficiencies, lack of innovation, and corruption has all worked against law enforcement to decrease their overall potential to serve society.

There are a number of clear relationships this work holds to Thompson's conception of bureaupathology. Thompson describes the term as an extremity that can occur within bureaucratic environments. Here, there is extreme resistance to change because of the difficulty of adjusting a bureaucracy in place. This then forces the individual to adapt to life within the bureaucracy, which… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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