Stress and budgeting - personal considerations on what budgeting involves. With the summer holiday season here for all but the budget community (there is never a holiday season for this community), I have given some thought as to why this may be.
Budgeting, after all is said and done, is about human relationships, and these relationships cannot stand a steady diet of stress. However, why is this so in budgeting? Much of the literature related to budgeting deals with some aspects of this problem, and I assume that it will do so in the future. From a practitioner's point of view, budgeting involves the following elements that can lead to stressful personal and organizational situations:
Budgeting involves communication. These communications are carried out by human beings, with resulting breakdowns which are compounded by the, in many cases, unreasonable time constraints (see, for example, the current "transition budget" process outlined elsewhere). Issues related to breakdowns in communications and what is communicated abound in budgeting. Some of the stress and problems related to budgeting is associated with the "bad news" aspects of the work - after all, you don't get everything. (Bearers of bad news used to be killed in some cultures - "killing" the budget people is not as infrequent as we may wish.) But a large part is also due to simply poor communication.
Budgeting involves power relationships, in their various manifestations. Issues of subordinacy abound. Budgeting is carried out within organizations, which are hierarchical. This is so with a vengeance in the Federal budgeting world. After all, the President of the United States is not a member of a "team" - he is the supreme commander, etc. Ditto for assorted political appointees, not to mention the 535 individual sovereigns who deal with appropriations and carry out oversight. The nature of the top levels of organizations is transferred down the line and affects all organizational activities. In addition, there are winners and losers in the budget process, and conflict.
Related to communication and the power relationships there are matters of documentation, summarization, and conveying of information - by and large, the "paperwork" associated with formulating and executing budgets. Necessities include "filtering" of information and the use of information technology, which in turn influence communications and power relationships - withholding or giving information is clearly an exercise of power.