Buy this Article for $7.95

Have a coupon or promotional code? Enter it here:

When you buy this you'll get access to the ePub version, a downloadable PDF, and the ability to print the full article.


  1. Graham, J. Ross MSc, CHE
  2. Mackie, Christopher MD, MHSc, FRCPC


Objective: Resource allocation in local public health (LPH) has been reported as a significant challenge for practitioners and a Public Health Services and Systems Research priority. Ensuring available resources have maximum impact on community health and maintaining public confidence in the resource allocation process are key challenges. A popular strategy in health care settings to address these challenges is Program Budgeting and Marginal Analysis (PBMA). This case study used PBMA in an LPH setting to examine its appropriateness and utility.


Design: The criteria-based resource allocation process PBMA was implemented to guide the development of annual organizational budget in an attempt to maximize the impact of agency resources. Senior leaders and managers were surveyed postimplementation regarding process facilitators, challenges, and successes.


Setting: Canada's largest autonomous LPH agency.


Results: PBMA was used to shift 3.4% of the agency budget from lower-impact areas (through 34 specific disinvestments) to higher-impact areas (26 specific reinvestments). Senior leaders and managers validated the process as a useful approach for improving the public health impact of agency resources. However, they also reported the process may have decreased frontline staff confidence in senior leadership.


Conclusions: In this case study, PBMA was used successfully to reallocate a sizable portion of an LPH agency's budget toward higher-impact activities. PBMA warrants further study as a tool to support optimal resource allocation in LPH settings.