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March 31, 2016

Updated PBS document on track

An updated planning and budgeting system (PBS) document appears to be on track to be finalized by the end of the academic year.

The University Senate budget policies committee last week approved minor changes to a draft document that will be presented to Faculty Assembly next month.
If the Assembly approves the document at its April 12 meeting, it would move toward final approval by Senate Council and the Council of Deans.

Commenting on the draft, David DeJong, executive vice provost, said, “I think the resulting document is one that should be easier for units to follow,” adding that the revisions removed redundancies, altered wording to better reflect current practices, and generalized overly specific language. “I think it will be a more robust document,” he said.

BPC began the review process in December. (See Dec. 10, 2015, University Times.)

Under PBS shared governance provisions, the Senate committee is responsible for reviewing whether the PBS processes are followed and whether all constituencies involved are provided adequate opportunities to participate in the process and to be informed of its outcomes. The system calls for a review of the PBS document “approximately every five years” by surveying the constituent groups to determine whether and how the PBS document should be amended, and how the PBS process might be improved.

In other business at its March 25 meeting, BPC received preliminary results of that survey, which was conducted in conjunction with the Office of the Provost. (See March 3 University Times.)

DeJong proposed that a summary of the survey be included with the final report on the PBS document review.

He highlighted some results:
• Nearly 1,300 responses were received, with nearly 900 of the surveys fully completed.
• Eighty-one percent of the people who completed it had never served on a planning and budgeting committee (PBC).
• Respondents reported low knowledge of the PBS, with only 30 percent reporting being knowledgeable at some level.
• Of those who had served on a PBC, three-quarters reported they were knowledgeable about the PBS, while 25 percent were reluctant to say so.
• Of those who had served on a PBC, 85 percent felt the PBS was being followed; faculty were more skeptical, with only 60-70 percent agreeing.

In open-ended comments, concerns about the PBS fell into a handful of categories, including:
— Lack of knowledge.
— Lack of transparency.
— Openness of leaders to input.
— Consistency with which the PBS is followed across units.

Suggestions for improvement centered largely on:
— Increased visibility and communication.
— Increased transparency.
— Expanding involvement in the system.

Amanda Brodish of the Office of the Provost estimated the response rate was about 10 percent, based on 13,000 University employees overall. While the response rate was good, “the sample that completed the survey doesn’t necessarily represent the population as a whole,” she said.

Several committee members expressed concern over the low numbers of faculty — only about 300 — among the respondents.

Responses from individuals in the Schools of the Health Sciences also were low in comparison to respondents from the Provost area units and other responsibility centers, Brodish said.

In response to committee members’ requests, she agreed to provide a breakdown separating staff respondents from those who self-identified as administrators, and to estimate the response rates for survey questions.

Committee member Mackey Friedman of the Graduate School of Public Health asked for details on the content of the open-ended survey responses in order to better understand what actions BPC might take to raise awareness of the PBS.

DeJong agreed, adding that responses would be shared with the committee after being reviewed to ensure respondents’ anonymity is preserved.

BPC’s next meeting is set for 2 p.m. April 15 in 156 CL.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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