City on the Line

How Baltimore Transformed Its Budget to Beat the Great Recession and Deliver Outcomes

In ‘City on the Line,’ former Baltimore budget director Andrew Kleine asks why the way government does its most important job — deciding how to spend taxpayer dollars — hasn’t changed in hundreds of years. Parts memoir, manifesto, and manual, this book tells the story of Baltimore’s radical departure from traditional line item budgeting to a focus on outcomes like better schools, safer streets, and stronger neighborhoods — during one of the most tumultuous decades in the city’s history. Elected officials, executives, and citizens alike will be equipped to transform budgets in their city, state, or any other mission-driven organization.


  • More readable than a typical professional title, the narrative is driven by stories of public servants who worked to deliver better outcomes in Baltimore.
  • The book is full of graphical features that provide context, humor, examples, tools, and instructions.
  • At the end of each chapter, the book features five takeaways, five questions, and five resources. The questions are meant for use as assignments in a public administration or public policy class. The book is full of recommendations of other books to read about making government work better.
  • The book describes a groundbreaking initiative to tie together strategic planning, budgeting and performance accountability.


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