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This information is intended to convey the underlying concepts for Reclamation's decision processes. It is not mandatory.
See the Reclamation Manual for official Reclamation-wide requirements.

Reclamation's Decision Process Guide

Estimate Budget

Purpose / Why / How / Look Forward / Go On


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navigate in the page--Purpose

This initial budget estimate accompanies a proposal.

  • To give decisionmakers and other participants an idea of what is needed to solve the problem
  • To provide a basis for requesting funds from potential partners, the Congress, and other entities


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navigate in the page--Why?

Carefully estimating the amount of work and resources needed to develop workable solutions is probably the most crucial step in getting funding. A low estimate may stop the process halfway through (thus solving nothing) or require more money (thus eroding the agency's credibility and reputation for being able to get things done). A high estimate may be reduced or passed over in favor of more "economical" problems to solve. A high budget for one problem may also preclude addressing other important problems.


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navigate in the page--How?

Budgets are manifestations of problems and opportunities.

Look at the budget guide for ideas. This is a rough sketch so the level of detail will be pretty low. See what other similar efforts have done and how much that cost. Borrow wholesale and add margins for changes, etc. Try to be as realistic as possible.

budgets drive actions


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navigate in the page--Look Forward

Make sure that the budget is proportional to the problem.

If you can't justify spending the money to help accomplish Reclamation's mission, you may need to refer the problem elsewhere, redefine the problem, or re-examine Reclamation's role in participating in solving the problem.

Remember, this is a preliminary estimate. The budget will need to be reexamined and refined at regular intervals throughout the process. These periodic reality checks will help keep the budget on top of new developments and changes in scope, partners, actions, and problems.


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navigate in the page--Go On

GeneralBefore Funding

PreviousDetermine Role

NextGet Authority and Funding

Please contact Deena Larsen 303-445-2584 with questions or comments on this material.