The Public Interest

PPBS comes to Washington

Virginia Held

Summer 1966

In May, 1966, all departments and most agencies of the U.S. government, in submitting to the Budget Bureau their rough spending plans for the fiscal year starting fourteen months later, began using for the first time the Planning-Programing-Budgeting System, or PPBS. The change has its source in the summer of 1965, when Lyndon B. Johnson ordered them to institute what he called a “revolutionary” new system, one which demands that departments and agencies define clearly the major objectives (or “programs”) which they choose to pursue, that they apply systematic analyses to the alternative ways in which these objectives are being – or may be – sought, and that they plan their spending in long-range as well as one-year-ahead terms. This doesn’t sound very revolutionary; indeed, it sounds merely sensible. Oddly enough, it may actually be both.

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