17 March 2017

Why Good Programs Get Cut From Budget

 It comes as no surprise to me that cuts made by the Trump administration are upsetting many people on the left and the right. Why is it that some programs get cut from a budget and others do not? Why would a wonderful program which goes to such a great cause get defunded? How heartless can people be?

There are many programs out there and when it comes time to make the cut, nobody wants their group of people to suffer. So, let us assume that every single program is a good program, or else why in the world would it have ever gotten a green light to proceed, correct? But if we can agree that we need cuts, let's not decide based on who has the most heartwarming cause or helps the most likable people.

I don't want to throw money in a jar for a program that promises to feed the hungry year after year with literally no established results. So, if we can agree on this, let's look at why a great program might get cut before another program that doesn't sound AS great!

When program cuts are made, the first thing to look at are the goals and objectives of the program. Have they been met? Why make cuts in some programs and not in others? Because programs funded by the people (taxpayers) must perform toward their original promised goals and objectives and prove to be effective based on measurable data. To see what that looks like, note the following example:


The goal is a universal and idealistic vision. It is a promise to whomever is funding the campaign/project/journey (taxpayers), that it will increase or decrease X by some factor.
Our program goal is to increase productivity in the classroom by 25%. We will do this by implementing a regimented nutrition program in public schools. 
This means that showing a correlation between a regimented nutrition program and an increase in productivity is prudent, right? Fair enough.


Objectives are those completed tasks which will impact, in a positive way, the goal. The objectives, once measured, will show the increase or decrease in X, which was the goal.

  1. Establish a baseline classroom productivity scale. Word.
  2. Make public schools decrease the amount of fatty foods served in their lunch programs. Nobody will complain about this one.
  3. Public schools will remove vending machines from cafeterias. Meh, okay.
  4. Provide public schools with wheat grass supplemental snacks during recess. OMG, please! But okay, let's see what you got.
  5. Conduct an annual classroom productivity survey to measure against the established baseline. Duh!

Measurement of Success

Believe it or not, success doesn't just happen. Accomplishing goals and objectives isn't as straight forward as winning the Superbowl. It's not as concrete as winning a spelling bee.

When there are objectives to meet, those objectives must be measured to show success. Measurable data can either prove or disprove that the objectives had an impact on the goal. So, it is important to collect this data to determine the success of a program.

Are we able to produce the results that will show our program has been a success?
Oh, I'm sorry. Were we supposed to be measuring data somewhere?

Don't blame Trump. Blame the program administrators for not producing measurable results!

Please read the following language pulled from the actual Trump budget cuts proposal:

Economic Development Administration ($221 million): The Trump budget says it has "limited measurable impacts and duplicates other federal programs."

Minority Business Development Agency ($32 million): The White House says this minority business incubator program is "duplicative" of other programs in the Small Business Administration.

McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program ($202 million): Trump's budget says the program — a sort of Third World school lunch project — "lacks evidence that it is being effectively implemented to reduce food insecurity."

21st Century Community Learning Centers program ($1.2 billion): The formula grants to states support before- and after-school and summer programs. "The programs lacks strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement," the budget says.

Community Development Block Grant program ($3 billion): CDBG has been a bread-and-butter funding source for local communities for 42 years, totaling more than $150 billion in grants over its history. "The program is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results," Trump's budget says.

What cut programs have you puzzled and/or fuming?

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