OECD Journal on Budgeting

The OECD Journal on Budgeting is published three times per year. It draws on the best of the recent work of the OECD Working Party of Senior Budget Officials (SBO), as well as special contributions from finance ministries, academics and experts in the field and makes it available to a wider community in an accessible format. The journal provides insight on leading-edge institutional arrangements, systems and instruments for the allocation and management of resources in the public sector.

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Top-down Budgeting as a Tool for Central Resource Management

Top-down budgeting emerged in the 1990s as a response to fiscal crisis. Previously, the traditional bottom-up approach to budget formulation had conferred centralised authority for resource allocation on the finance ministry. Then, in an attempt to control the growing fiscal deficits in the 1990s, the finance ministry only set the overall expenditure ceiling and subceilings, and delegated detailed resource allocation decisions to line ministries. However, the level of delegation and the method of determining the expenditure ceilings vary across countries. This article describes country experiences with top-down budgeting and makes policy suggestions for its use as a tool for central resource management. The article also explores the relative advantages, disadvantages, and complementarities of the two approaches.


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