If a company is poorly run, or is not minimizing costs, it creates an opportunity for someone to take over the firm, fire incumbent management, and implement the cost-reducing schemes.
In fact, when 3G announced its intention to acquire Kraft, its stock went up by 36%, in expectation that 3G would implement their "zero-based budgeting" at the target firm.
Other food and beverage companies are embracing 3G’s financial tool, in part out of fear that they, too, could become targets of activist investors or stronger rivals. Big packaged-food companies have been particularly appealing targets for zero-based budgeting.
So what does zero-based budgeting do?
[it] requires managers to plan each year’s budget as if no money existed the previous year, rather than using the typical method of adjusting prior-year spending. That forces them to justify the costs and benefits of each dollar every 12 months.
...zero-based budgeting is a symbol of the new reality for U.S. business: Activists are pressing at all sides, giving managements little room for slack or bloated budgets. This ethos has seeped into nearly every boardroom, prompting pre-emptive steps that emulate the activists themselves.
The effects of this change are improved shareholder returns and dividends. But on the flip side, it has made the work for employees more rigorous and, some would argue, more ruthless.
At Heinz, ... 3G quickly set out to make deeper changes, paring staff at its Pittsburgh headquarters and gutting individual offices in favor of open floor plans. It slashed Heinz’s overall head count by about 1,480, or 4% of the world-wide workforce, shut several factories and grounded corporate jets.
Sounds like a good management tool for the government.