Allocating Scarce Resources

  • Stuart S. Nagel
Part of the Policy Studies Organization Series book series (PSOS)


The purpose of this chapter is to describe a method of allocating scarce resources across budget categories in a way that is both rational and feasible. It is rational because it allocates in proportion to proxies for elasticity coefficients in accordance with classical calculus optimization. It is, however, feasible in the sense that the proxies are of such a nature that they are easily obtained and can be easily worked with.


Elasticity Coefficient Fair Procedure Total Resource Crime Reduction Public Defender 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    V. O. Key, Jr., “The Lack of a Budgetary Theory,” American Political Science Review, 34: 1137–44 (1940).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    On multi-criteria decision-making, see Ching-Lai Hwang and Kwangsun Yoon, Multiple Attribute Decision Making: Methods and Applications ( Frankfort: Springer-Verlag, 1981 );CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. and Milan Zeleny, Multi-Criteria Decision Making ( New York: McGraw-Hill, 1982 ).Google Scholar
  4. On spreadsheet analysis applied to decision making, see Owen Carroll, Decision Power with Supersheets ( Homewood, Ill.: Dow Jones-Irwin, 1986 );Google Scholar
  5. and Jack Holt, Cases and Applications in Lotus 1–2–3 ( Homewood, Ill.: Irwin, 1988 ).Google Scholar
  6. 3.
    On general aspects of budgeting, especially the effective and efficient allocating of scarce resources, see Lee Friedman, Microeconomic Policy Analysis ( New York: McGraw-Hill, 1984 );Google Scholar
  7. and Irene Rubin (ed.), New Directions in Budget Theory ( Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988 ).Google Scholar
  8. For more specific examples in the field of public administration, see S. Nagel, (ed.), Public Administration and Decision-Aiding Software ( Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1989 ).Google Scholar
  9. 4.
    For further details on the P/G% Decision-Aiding Software which is partly an MCDM spreadsheet-based budget allocation system, see S. Nagel, Evaluation Analysis with Microcomputers ( Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1988 ).Google Scholar
  10. For other related decision-aiding packages, see S. Nagel (ed.), Decision Analysis and Decision-Aiding Software ( New York: Wiley, 1989 ).Google Scholar
  11. 5.
    On systematic decision-making via goals, means, and relations between goals and means, see S. Nagel, Public Policy: Goals, Means, and Methods ( New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984 );Google Scholar
  12. and S. Nagel, Policy Studies: Integration and Evaluation (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1988). Both books emphasize the importance of what—if analysis, especially in Chapter 13 of the first book and Chapter 9 of the second one.Google Scholar
  13. 8.
    V. O. Key, A Primer of. Statistics for Political Scientists ( New York: Crowell, 1954 ).Google Scholar
  14. 9.
    V. O. Key, Politics, Parties, and Pressure Groups ( New York: Crowell, 1953 ).Google Scholar
  15. 10.
    For further details concerning this approach to rational and feasible budget allocation, see Philip Kotler, Marketing Decision Making: A Model Building Approach ( New York: Holt, 1971 );Google Scholar
  16. S. Nagel, B. Malis, and M. Mills, “Using Percentaging Analysis for More Productive Budgeting,” 44 Public Productivity Review 65–92 (1987);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. S. Nagel, “Optimally Allocating Federal Money to Cities,” Public Budgeting and Finance, 5: 39–50 (1985);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. and “Finding an Optimum Mix in Allocating Scarce Resources” in S. Nagel, Policy Evaluation: Making Optimum Decisions (New York: Praeger, 1982).Google Scholar
  19. All the procedures described in this chapter can be made even more accurate and simple by using multi-criteria decision-making software such as the P/G% or Best Choice program which is described in S. Nagel, “Evaluation Analysis with Microcomputers,” Public Productivity Review, 42: 67–80 (1987).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Policy Studies Organisation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart S. Nagel
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IllinoisUSA

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