Economics Professor’s Paper Wins Burkhead Award

OGDEN, Utah – A paper written by a Weber State University assistant economics professor has been recognized as the best article of the year by the academic journal Public Budgeting & Finance.

The findings also provide a tool to help public policymakers make informed budget decisions.

Brandon Koford’s paper, "Public Budget Choices and Private Willingness to Pay," has received the 2010 Jesse Burkhead Award. Public Budgeting & Finance presents the award annually to the best paper published in the journal during the previous year.

While Koford’s article was first published in the journal’s summer 2010 edition, he was notified about the award earlier this month.

A chapter from Koford’s dissertation was the source material for his award-winning paper, which the selection committee hailed as “provocative and trailblazing.”

“The paper is about the importance of including citizens in the public budgeting process and provides a method to assess citizens’ preferences with respect to the public budget,” Koford said.

In conducting his research, Koford surveyed residents of Kentucky by mail and the Web. Participants were asked to allocate dollars from a budget surplus among categories in the public budget. In the exercise, the surplus amount was fixed so participants would have to make choices within typical budget constraints.

Citizens then were asked how much they would be willing to pay out of their own pocket for an expansion in services related to a specific budget area.

“In essence, the paper examines how people value services provided through the public budget, both in terms of how they would want dollars in public coffers spent as well as how they would have money out of their own pocket spent,” Koford said.

At the time, survey respondents indicated they were willing to pay the most for expansion of educational services, followed by health care. While Koford doesn’t plan to replicate the study in Utah, he believes the results would be similar.

Economic realities for states and municipalities have changed drastically since Koford first conducted his research in 2007. Back then, the research was aimed at informing lawmakers and administrators about how to gain public input regarding where to allocate surplus funds. His findings remain relevant even in this time of deficits.

“The idea is still the same: using input from citizens would result in a budgetary picture that more accurately reflects their preferences,” Koford said. “In the case of budget cuts, policymakers would be seeking to reduce services in a way that minimizes any negative impact on citizen satisfaction.”

Koford joined the faculty in WSU’s John B. Goddard School of Business & Economics in 2010.

The award is named for Jesse Burkhead, who had a distinguished career as an economics and public administration professor at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and served as an editor of Public Budgeting & Finance.

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Brandon Koford, assistant economics professor
801-626-6013 •
John Kowalewski, director of Media Relations
801-626-7212 •