Effective: Early Spring 8-Week 2018/2019

MSCJ 535: Budgeting And Planning For Criminal Justice Managers

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  Course Description

Examination of public sector budgeting from the perspective of agency and departmental managers.  Analysis of the issues involved in planning, developing, tracking and implementing an agency or departmental budget.

Prerequisite: Graduate Standing

Proctored Exams: None



  • Chen, Greg G, Weikart, Lynne A., Williams, Daniel W.. (2014). Budget Tools: Financial Methods in the Public Sector (2nd). Sage/CQ Press.  
    • [ISBN-978-1-4833-0770-1]

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

This course is about developing skills primarily used to prepare for a budgeting process. These skills include budget preparation, submission, and defense of requested appropriations.

We will examine public sector budgeting from the perspective of agency and departmental managers. We’ll also analyze issues that are involved in planning, developing, tracking, and implementing an agency or departmental budget.

Each week represents a progression toward the final goal of developing not just a baseline budget but also a budget that includes measurable performance objectives that highlight what will be accomplished with the allocated funds. 

The course begins with identifying and understanding terms, methods, and procedures. From there we will begin to develop the skills required to read and understand financial statements. You cannot begin to prepare a budget statement if you do not understand financial statements related to sources of revenues and expenditures.

With this basic understanding of terms and how to read financial statements, you can now move onto using inflation and time value of money to adjust your appropriation requests: a necessary step in developing a baseline budget.

Taxpayers have always wanted to know what the agency will do with the tax dollars committed to public safety. It is at this point that you will learn how to integrate performance measurements into your baseline budget proposal. This is the point at which you assemble the baseline allocation requests that involve cost estimations and attach the performance measurements.

Now that you have your baseline budget and performance objectives developed it is time to understand the budget justification process to include the technical and political skills required. You will be writing a budget justification statement.

Finally, you will evaluate an actual criminal justice budget based on the criteria and skills you have developed throughout the course.

To develop the necessary skills to effectively analyze this actual budget you will be required to complete all assignments (written and discussions) that will progressively take you through the budget process, from understanding terms to a skill level that prepares you to analyze a budget process and document.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe the processes involved with planning, developing, tracking and implementing an agency or departmental budget.
  2. Describe the financial and economic issues faced by criminal justice managers.
  3. Articulate the major sources of revenue and expenditures for Criminal Justice agencies.
  4. Explain important terms and theories associated with the budget process.
  5. Articulate solutions to real and hypothetical budget problems.
  6. Analyze and evaluate the operational, legal, and ethical problems faced by criminal justice professionals.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 360-400 90-100%
B 320-359 80-89%
C 280-319 70-79%
F 0-279 0-69%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (15) 120 30%
Writing Assignments (8) 280 70%
Total 400 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Introductory Discussion -- Tuesday
Discussion 1 8 Tuesday/Thursday
Discussion 2 8 Thursday/Saturday
Writing Assignment 1 35 Sunday

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 8 Tuesday/Thursday
Discussion 4 8 Thursday/Saturday
Writing Assignment 2 35 Sunday

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 8 Tuesday/Thursday
Discussion 6 8 Thursday/Saturday
Writing Assignment 3 35 Sunday

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 8 Tuesday/Thursday
Discussion 8 8 Thursday/Saturday
Writing Assignment 4 35 Sunday

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 8 Tuesday/Thursday
Discussion 10 8 Thursday/Saturday
Writing Assignment 5 35 Sunday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 11 8 Tuesday/Thursday
Discussion 12 8 Thursday/Saturday
Writing Assignment 6 35 Sunday

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 13 8 Tuesday/Thursday
Discussion 14 8 Thursday/Saturday
Writing Assignment 7 35 Sunday

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 15 8 Tuesday/Thursday
Writing Assignment 8 35 Saturday
Total Points: 400

  Assignment Overview


There is a non-graded Introduction Discussion, due by 11:59 p.m. CT, Wednesday of Week 1. Besides the Introduction Discussion, there are fifteen (15) graded Discussion Posts in the course worth 8 points each, for a total of 120 points (30% of the Final Grade). Each week will have two (2) discussion questions. For the first discussion question, you must post your initial response by Tuesday (11.59 p.m. CT) of the week and your response to the second question by Thursday (11.59 p.m. CT) of the week. By Thursday (11.59 p.m. CT) of the week, you must post a substantial comment to at least one of your classmates’ postings to the first discussion question, and at least one comment to a classmate’s postings to the second question by Saturday (11.59 p.m. CT) of the week. You must participate in no less than 4 days during the week. Your initial postings for each of the questions should be no less than two paragraphs or 350 words, and at least one paragraph or 250 words in your responses to your classmates. Your responses should follow basic APA writing standards.

Writing Assignments

Each week consists of significant writing assignments that require a lot of critical thinking and scholarly writing. Some of the assignments will require a combination of written content, calculations, and excel spreadsheets. For the written content, you must follow the basic APA writing standards: title page, section headings, in-text citations, and references. Although there are no minimum word or paragraph counts for these assignments, the criteria of “substantial responses” will be applied. Substantial content provides information that goes beyond sufficient information, is directly relevant, is directly responsive to the assigned exercise or question, and demonstrates critical thinking. All assignments will be due Sunday (11.59 p.m. CT) for Weeks 1-7 and Saturday (11.59 p.m. CT) for Week 8.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.


Budget Tools: Financial Methods in the Public Sector:

  • Module 1 (page 1)
  • Module 10 (page 74)
Introductory Discussion

Introduce yourself and be sure to include your current job position and any personal information that you are willing to share to help us know you better.

Discussion 1

There are three budgeting formats that are used in the budgeting process: line item; performance; and program. Discuss the value/benefits that each format contributes to the budget process.

Discussion 2

Of the three budget formats highlighted in discussion Question 1, which one has the least transparency for the taxpayers? Provide reasons for your opinion.

Writing Assignment 1

Complete Assignment 1 on page 82 of the textbook and submit it to the dropbox. Your submission should include copies of the two jurisdictions’ budget calendars and two pages of comments comparing the budget calendars.


Budget Tools: Financial Methods in the Public Sector:

  • Module 3 (page 23)
  • Module 26 (page 252)
Discussion 3
Financial statement analysis is an important assessment tool for businesses; however, what value does ratio analysis provide for budgeting in the public sector and why is it beneficial for a criminal justice manager to understand how and why these ratios are applied to government financial operations and budgeting?
Discussion 4

Explain the difference between fixed and variable costs and how most fixed costs eventually become variable costs.

Writing Assignment 2

Complete Assignment 2 on page 26 of the textbook. Complete Assignment 1 on page 260. For this assignment, you must use one ratio from each of the following categories: liquidity, solvency, and, sustainability. Complete Assignment 2 on page 264.


Budget Tools: Financial Methods in the Public Sector:

  • Module 6 (page 38)
  • Module 7 (page 46)
Discussion 5

Why is the concept of time value of money important for making long-term project decisions?

Discussion 6

In your line item budget, you begin with initial inflationary adjustments only in an effort to explain how much is required to maintain the buying power from the prior fiscal period. A member demands to know why you require these increases. How would you explain the impact of inflation on your budget proposal?

Writing Assignment 3

Complete Assignments 3 and 4 on page 45 of the textbook. Complete Assignments 4 and 5 on page 57.


Budget Tools: Financial Methods in the Public Sector

  • Module 9 (page 60)
Discussion 7

There are three types of performance budgets described in the textbook. Discuss the differences and select the one that you believe would be the most effective for a criminal justice budget and provide reasons for your selection.

Discussion 8

How can a performance integrated budget be used to counter the archaic practice of across-the-board budget cuts?

Writing Assignment 4

Complete Assignments 4 and 5 on pages 72-73 of the textbook.


Budget Tools: Financial Methods in the Public Sector 

  • Module 12 (page 114)
Discussion 9

What would be the primary starting point of adjusting the baseline budget?  Provide examples.

Discussion 10

What are technical adjustments to the budget?  Provide at least one example outside of the textbook.

Writing Assignment 5

Complete Assignments 1 and 4 on pages 120-121 of the textbook.


Budget Tools: Financial Methods in the Public Sector: 

  • Module 13 (page 122)
  • Module 15 (page 148)
Discussion 11

How is a work breakdown structure used in the cost estimate process?

Discussion 12

What are the primary objections to across-the-board budget cuts?

Writing Assignment 6

Complete Assignment 1 on page 129 and Assignment 1 on page 150 of the textbook.

Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.

Budget Tools: Financial Methods in the Public Sector

  • Modules 14 (page 137)
  • Module 17 (page 168)
Discussion 13
What is the best approach to justifying your budget request, e.g., statistics, measured performance, or others?
Discussion 14

In addition to a cost benefit analysis what other assessment tool would you use to evaluate the feasibility of a capital improvement project? Discuss how the additional method is applied.

Writing Assignment 7

Complete Assignment 1 on page 146 and Assignments 2 and 3 on pages 177-178 of the textbook.


Budget Tools: Financial Methods in the Public Sector

  • Module 11 (page 90)
Discussion 15

If I have a performance budget prepared to show the allocations accomplishing each objective why would I need a line item budget?

Writing Assignment 8

Complete Assignment 1 on page 105 of the textbook.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted.  No late assignments will be accepted without extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the student and with instructor’s notification prior to the due date.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.