California Budget Change Proposal (BCP) Timeline

BCPs are used when you need to change the level of service (increases, decreases, or shifts) or funding sources (new funds or utilizing different fund source for the same purpose) for activities authorized by the Legislature, or to propose new program activities not currently authorized. Budget Change Proposal process is the primary mechanism required by the State of California for an organization to increase its staff. CPS HR can assist your agency with drafting California Budget Change Proposals (BCP).

The Department of Finance provides the template and instructions for completing a BCP. The template includes key elements that must be included in submitted BCPs. Having an understanding of the timeline and the various agencies involved in the BCP process is critical to your organization obtaining the staffing levels needed at the right time to execute your mission.

Keep in mind that any BCPs that the Department of Finance does not approve to be released to the Legislature remain working papers subject to the Governor’s deliberative process privilege indefinitely. These documents are to be released only if that privilege is waived by the Governor’s Office or pursuant to court order.

BCP Timeline

The following describes Department obligations and responsibilities with regard to the State budgeting cycle, how the BCP fits into that cycle, and critical milestones for prospective budget changes.

A critical component of the BCP is the workload metrics needed to justify the number and classifications of positions needed to meet workload demands. A workload study is a project that involves gathering and analyzing these metrics. In order to allow enough time to complete workload study and include the results in the BCP, we would recommend that you start a workload study around January and aim to complete it by April ideally, but by September by the very latest. If your workload study justifies a BCP, the BCP is approved by your management and the Department of Finance for inclusion in the Governor’s Budget, and approved by both houses of the Legislature for inclusion in the final Budget Act, you can start encumbering funds or recruiting for new positions by July 1 the following year.

Phase I: Budget Development

·      January April: Complete a workload study for the affected program. Draft BCP Concept paper and share with department management. Each department and/or agency may use their own template for BCP Concepts.

·      Spring: Share management-approved BCP Concepts with Agency, if your department reports to an Agency.

·      June-July: Download and read the Department of Finance-issued Budget Letters titled, “Budget Preparation Guidelines” and “Budget Change Proposal Template and Instructions.” (

·      Summer: Meet with the designated Department of Finance Program Budget Manager and staff to discuss the Agency-approved BCP Concepts. Discussions will include whether the BCP Concepts are consistent with the Governor’s priorities and guidelines, and whether the proposal is the most feasible and practical to address the issue(s).

·      September (First Week): Submit complete BCPs to the Department of Finance. The Budget Letter titled, “Budget Change Proposal Template and Instructions” includes detailed instructions on using the BCP Forms, BCP Reports, and BCP Upload Template. The workload study must have been completed and incorporated into the BCP prior to submission to the Department of Finance.

·      September: Submit Legislative BCPs to Finance 10 days after bill is chaptered, if chaptered after August 31.

·      September-November: Build the Governor’s Budget with the Department of Finance staff. Identify ongoing baseline funding needs, one-time reductions, baseline increases, etc. Address Department of Finance questions regarding all drills and BCPs.

·      November/December: Attend meetings with Department of Finance upper management to finalize decisions on which BCPs will be included in the Governor’s Budget. Amend BCPs as requested.

·      Early January: Submit final BCPs, final supplementary schedules such as Operating Expenses and Equipment, Federal Funds, and Reimbursements to Finance (prior to January 10).

·      January 10: The Governor releases the Governor’s Budget.

Phase II: Budget Enactment

·      February: With the Department of Finance, respond to inquiries from the Legislative Analyst’s Office. Attend meetings with the Legislative Analyst’s Office and the Department of Finance. Discuss potential Spring Finance Letter (Spring BCP) requests with the Department of Finance.

·      March-May: Attend Pre-Hearing meetings with the Legislative Analyst’s Office and Legislative Budget Subcommittee staff. Attend Budget Subcommittee hearings to provide information on programs and BCPs.

·      May: Submit May Revision BCPs to the Department of Finance.

Phase III: Budget Administration

July 1: If BCPs are approved by the full Legislative Budget Committees and Conference Committee, and if the Governor signs the final budget bill that includes funding requested by the BCPs, departments possess the authority to encumber and expend the funds as proposed by the BCP, i.e. post new positions, let a Request for Proposal for a contract, etc.

Chris Atkinson

Chris has over 10 years of experience working in private sector consulting, local government, and in internal consulting capacities. He specializes in organizational performance assessment and its several focus areas. He has assisted numerous organizations to assess problem areas and make recommendations for improvement so that they can target resources and achieve significant performance improvement.

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