The right turn in U. S. politics has increased conflict over both ends and means in government budgeting and financial management. Overlapping and competing views of the way the world works drive finance officials’ practice. Taking a new look at public financial management that acknowledges the multiple, competing realities, Government Budgeting and Financial Management in Practice: Logics to Make Sense of Ambiguity examines transaction cost economics and other small government, managed-by-the-market techniques as the latest reincarnation of public budgeting and financial management orthodoxy. Gerald J. Miller reviews new research on the continuing validity of the political dimension of government finance decisions and the multiple, intensely argued constructions of reality the finance official must make sense of.
Miller discusses major advances in interpretive approaches to budgeting and finance and how they dominate writing in the broader field of public administration. He also examines the effects of the explosion of information systems, new budget techniques, nonconventional ways of spending, and new technologies. The book uses a question as the motivating force to understand some facets of today’s government budgeting, finance, and financial management: where do the critical assumptions come from to drive financial management? Miller takes the history of reform, developments in the field and the logics finance officials say they use as sources for these assumptions and examines what they reveal about constructions of the government finance world.
Exploring new avenues of financial management thinking, the book discusses ambiguity and interpretations that move the unclear preferences, ends, and goals toward consensus. The author identifies an alternative approach to research that explains important facets of financial management. This approach is drawn directly from practice, events and problems in public organizations and from the creedal bent of many political actors in competition.