Fiscal Benchmarking for Indiana's Local Governments

Research Area: Tax & Finance

Fiscal Benchmarking Logo

The laws governing how Indiana's local governments collect and spend money for services and investments have changed significantly in the last 10 years. In this increasingly complex environment, policy makers and fiscal officers need a tool to help them track fiscal health, to make apples-to-apples comparisons, to identify best practices, and to evaluate how the new fiscal environment impacts the delivery of government services. Toward that end, the Indiana University Public Policy Institute (PPI) began a project to track fiscal conditions for local government.

PPI, part of the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), analyzes government-reported data on revenues, spending, debt, and investments to produce "indicators" of fiscal health for local units. Measured against standard benchmarks of fiscal sustainability and economic conditions, the indicators  gauge the operating and financial position, revenue and expense structure, and long-term obligations of local units against the economic and demographic environment of each local government.

With these indicators and benchmarks, state policymakers, local fiscal officers, researchers, and interested citizens can measure the impact of state laws on local governments, compare the fiscal health of similar units, find best-practices in fiscal operations, and have access to an evidence-based tool for research and policy discussions.

Lessons learned from benchmarking the fiscal health of Indiana's 92 counties, 500+ cities and towns, and 1,000+ townships will identify fiscal challenges and successes which could help produce a set of best practices for the "new normal" fiscal environment. The project is led by an Advisory Committee, chaired by Craig Johnson, Associate Professor of Public Finance, SPEA.

For questions or comments about the project, please email to

Craig Johnson
  • Craig Johnson
  • Associate Professor of Public Finance; School of Public and Environmental Affairs, IU Bloomington
Jamie Palmer
Seth Payton
  • Seth Payton
  • Assistant Professor
Justin Ross
Caitlin Cheek
  • Caitlin Cheek
  • MPA Candidate; School of Public and Environmental Affairs, IU Bloomington
Thomas Luke Spreen
  • Thomas Luke Spreen
  • Doctoral Student; School of Public and Environmental Affairs, IU Bloomington
Kayli Schafer
  • Kayli Schafer
  • Graduate Assistant
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