Title page for ETD etd-10172010-152131

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Trimble, Tammy Elizabeth
Author's Email Address ttrimble@vt.edu
URN etd-10172010-152131
Title Determining Source-Based and Party-Based Perspectives in the Federal Budget Process: A Content Analysis of United States Executive, Congressional and Agential Budget Communication from 1998 - 2000
Degree PhD
Department Public Administration and Public Affairs
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dudley, Larkin S. Committee Chair
Tedesco, John C. Committee Member
Wamsley, Gary L. Committee Member
Wolf, James F. Committee Member
  • agency communication
  • federal budget
  • content analysis
  • DICTION 5.0
  • public administration
  • partisan rhetoric
  • political communication
Date of Defense 2010-10-04
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation explored the differences in federal budget communication associated with the development and passage of the Federal Budget Resolution for Fiscal Years 1999, 2000, and 2001. A computer-aided (i.e., DICTION) content analysis was completed to explore Executive, Legislature, and Agency budget communication for source-based and party-based differences. Source-based differences were explored using the variables Activity, Realism, Optimism, Commonality, Certainty, Public Interest, Budget Concepts, and Functional Budget Categories. When reviewing the findings as a whole – and taking into account the variables, data, and time period analyzed - a distinct and predominant source-based perspective was not present in the federal budget communication associated with the development of the Congressional Budget Resolution. However, it was possible to identify predominant sources for individual variables Activity, Optimism, Commonality, and Certainty.

Party-based differences were explored within seven themes: the use of Lakoff’s value language; discussions of campaign actors; coalition building rhetoric; moral virtue and entrepreneurialism rhetoric; language of order, efficiency and unity; public interest; and, accusatory language. Variables included Liberal Language, Conservative Language, Party References, Voter References, Leader References, Commonality, Familiarity, Realism, Human Interest, Rapport, Praise, Inspiration, Liberation, Tenacity, Communication, Denial, Public Interest, Blame, and Pessimism. The analysis of party-based differences revealed that Democrats were more likely to incorporate language associated with the following variables: Liberal Language, Conservative Language, Party References, Voter References, Leader References, Human Interest, Rapport, Liberation, Blame, and Pessimism. Republicans were more likely to incorporate language associated with Familiarity, Realism, Tenacity, Communication, and Denial.

This research illustrates that within our political institutions generally, and the budget specifically, there are significant source-based and party-based differences in the goals and values communicated by the actors within the federal budget process. If it is possible to gain a better understanding of how actors within this key process communicate, public administrators will be better equipped to engage each other in an honest dialogue and debate that facilitates agreement and understanding. Until source-based and party-based communication barriers have been broken down, the negative tenor in political communication and the public’s apathy and frustration towards the political process will continue.

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