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March 20, 2003

Changes to streamline planning/budgeting system

By bringing together Pitt faculty, staff, students and administrators to serve on planning and budgeting committees (PBCs), the University Planning and Budgeting System is intended to increase accountability, information sharing, and participation in decision making.

But the system is academically oriented and should be flexible, agreed members of a University Senate committee that reviewed the system recently.

Therefore, the review committee concluded, Pitt business and administrative units should no longer be required to have PBCs, and even academic units should be permitted to maintain alternatives to PBCs (subject to approval by the appropriate senior vice chancellor, in consultation with the Senate president).

Those were two of the more substantial changes to the planning and budgeting system approved unanimously by Faculty Assembly Feb. 25 and by Senate Council March 10.

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg — who is a Council member, and helped to draft the original 1992 document spelling out the University Planning and Budgeting System — voted for the changes and made it clear he would approve putting them into effect.

The planning and budgeting system has served Pitt well, he said at Senate Council last week. The original system document wasn’t perfect “but it was a good document, and it will be made even better by these changes,” the chancellor said.

Amendments range from minor editorial points (such as updating some administrators’ job titles) to changes aimed at bringing the document into closer alignment with actual processes and making the system more flexible and efficient.

“For example,” the review committee stated, “the requirement that the chancellor make all planning information and guidelines available to all members of the University community is cumbersome compared to the requirement a few lines later that unit heads make such information available to the faculty, staff and students in their units. It also seems unrealistic to require every unit’s planners to discuss and coordinate their plans with other units,” as the original document required.

Under another amendment, unit requests for budget augmentations no longer must be reported to the provost-chaired University Planning and Budgeting Committee (UPBC), which functions as the chancellor’s PBC.

Also, the UPBC will no longer be expected to prioritize detailed plans and budgets for schools, campuses and departments.

The full University Planning and Budgeting System document is available at the Office of the Provost web site at:

—Bruce Steele

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