In our work at Harvard on innovation in government we look for important expert contributions that will assist practitioners. City on the Line is one of the best and a call to action for leaders of every political stripe to think differently - very differently - about how tax dollars are spent.
Andrew Kleine’s reflections on his ten tumultuous years at the helm of Baltimore’s budget office have resulted in the best ‘how to’ book for a budget director I’ve ever read.
City on the Line puts a human face on budgeting, which I didn’t think was possible. Kleine’s stories about brave and innovative public servants are inspiring.
On the surface, Kleine’s journey in Baltimore is about the development and implementation of Outcome Budgeting, a powerful, innovative budgeting process which should be valuable for academics, politicians, budgeteers, and anyone committed to more effective government. Equally important, however, this is a textbook case study about the challenges of and the tools for successfully leading change in the highly-charged eco-system of big city governance.
If you want to improve performance in your public organization, read this book. The budget is the most powerful driver in the public sector; it determines who gets money, to do what, and with what strings and incentives attached. Andrew Kleine, long time budget director in Baltimore, turned the budget process upside down, so city leaders purchased best-value results rather than funding yesterday’s programs. He has written a highly entertaining but profound book that will teach you how to do the same. It’s a great read—and it will help your organization produce great outcomes.
This book tells the story of Charm City from the unique perspective of Baltimore's Budget Director. Andrew Kleine is on a mission to ensure that government spends taxpayer dollars on the thing that matters most – improving outcomes for residents. Along the way, he teaches us a new form of budgeting and makes the case for all governments to fund what works and what matters. A must read for anyone seeking better results from their government.
This book is required reading for anyone interested in making cities work. Andrew Kleine assumed the reins as Baltimore’s budget director at the start of the Great Recession. He explains how the city not only survived the fiscal crisis but emerged with a higher bond rating. His lively and engaging writing actually makes it fun to read about budgeting, accountability, and governance.
In City on the Line, Andrew Kleine paints a picture of a new Baltimore government – one that produces better results for more residents and less money through redefining its budget process using data-driven decision making. It’s an optimistic, yet reasonable, approach to running a city that says we can add value without adding to the bottom line. If you’re looking to improve government finance or use tax dollars better, this is the book for you.
This book is a stellar example of how to improve the effectiveness of government by tying together strategic planning, budgeting and performance accountability.
Andrew Kleine’s book is a must read for all who are interested in greater accountability and innovation in government. Baltimore’s journey is a fantastic example of both the challenges and successes of our complex landscape in local government.
I implemented Outcome Budgeting in two cities and am a true believer in its power to bring out the best not only from every dollar, but from every person in the organization. City on the Line is an essential guide for city managers and finance officers looking to deliver results, whether their budget is in deficit or surplus. If you're thinking that a book about budgeting must be dry and technical, think again. This is a beautifully written book, full of stories that pull you in and keep you wanting more.
The genius of this book is that it shows how everyone – reform-minded professionals, elected officials and, especially, the public – can play a role in turning resources into results for communities. Andrew Kleine’s advice on how to engage the public about budget choices is worth the cover price all by itself.
Andrew Kleine’s City on the Line is the most realistic and persuasive argument in print for replacing traditional budgeting with the more difficult but also far more promising outcome budgeting approach. Yet this book is about far more than budgeting--it offers valuable lessons about how to identify and support creative and dedicated public servants, how to integrate budgeting with program design, management, and evaluation, and how to inform and involve the public.
Academics and policy makers talk about connecting budget to outcomes. The theory sounds nice but it is wicked hard to do. City on the Line is candid and real – telling what worked and what failed. It is an inspiring must-read for every mayor and city budget director in the country.
As one of the country's leading government innovators, Andrew tells his personal story of making Baltimore's budgeting system focused on outcomes that matter to Baltimoreans, rather than incremental, arbitrary changes on the margin to the status quo. Far from an ivory tower thesis, Andrew offers practical tips from a practitioner who learned the hard way on how to make government smarter and more efficient. Andrew's story offers important lessons to anyone who cares about making government work better for all of us.
With City on the Line, Andrew Kleine has written a definitive work on local policy and programming. This book just works - whether one is in the early stages of a local government career or is a veteran city manager. City on the Line is both a "how-to" and an inspiration for outcome-based budgeting. Andrew renews hope that change is possible, and that even in turbulent political times, we can still develop rational public policy through budgeting. City on the Line will be required reading for our staff.
Baltimore has proven that when budget tradeoffs are presented with clear priorities and solid evidence about performance and impact, elected officials will listen to reason and across-the-board cuts will be a thing of the past. City on the Line provides all the details –successes and challenges— about implementing a brand new budget philosophy.
Beyond his mastery of the subject matter and surprisingly compelling anecdotes about public budgeting, Kleine’s writing is simple and elegant. It disappears behind the lively scenes, images, and characters he evokes throughout the book. What makes Kleine’s book uniquely worthy of a read is that he’s written about an important academic subject matter in a way that reads almost like a novel. Kleine combines thoughtfulness and creativity in storytelling, and artistic finesse in writing to educate us about how to help government deliver meaningful results. Read it, learn, and enjoy.
City on the Line is long overdue. I had the privilege of visiting Andrew and his team in early 2016 to learn about their outcome budgeting process and take as much as I could back to Atlanta. The result for us was a markedly improved process that effectively prioritized funding decisions and helped us achieve the outcomes we were seeking. I'm excited that other public sector practitioners will finally get to learn what Andrew taught us back then.
1/28/22, PA Times (ASPA): Kleine wrote an article that outlines some principles that cities can use to manage financial uncertainty.