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October 23, 1997

PBS gets mixed reviews in 1st survey of participants

Pitt's Planning and Budgeting System (PBS) got mixed reviews in the first-ever survey of faculty, staff, students and administrators who serve on PBS committees at the responsibility center level.

Asked to rate their committees' effectiveness on a scale of 0 (the committee has no impact on the unit's planning and budgeting) to 100 (major impact), survey respondents gave their committees both mean and median scores of 51.

In answering specific questions about their committees, respondents were more upbeat:

* About three-quarters of the respondents said their committees were involved in long-range planning and budgeting for their units, and that they received copies of PBS documents forwarded to senior vice chancellors.

* Sixty percent said they had discussed capital plans and budgets for their units.

* Most respondents said their unit heads took an active role in their committees.

On the other hand, many respondents complained that they never received a personnel plan and budget for their units, as required under the system, and most said minutes of their committee meetings were inadequately distributed.

The survey was conducted by a subcommittee of the University Senate's budget policies committee. Under PBS bylaws, the Senate committee is responsible for monitoring the system.

Dental school professor Thomas Zullo, who chaired the subcommittee, said the survey findings will be included in the budget policies committee's annual report to Faculty Assembly, later this fall.

Of the 350 individuals identified as members of responsibility center-level committees, about 200 responded to the survey, Zullo said.

Respondents said their committees met anywhere from zero to 52 times per year. The average number of committee meetings was six.

PBS was created in 1992 by a group of faculty, staff and administrators in an attempt to give the University community a greater voice in planning and budgeting.

Under the system, Pitt departments, schools, administrative offices and vice chancellor areas are supposed to maintain their own planning and budgeting committees, each with at least some elected members. The provost chairs the institution-wide University Planning and Budgeting Committee.

The recent Senate survey was the first comprehensive study of how members of lower-level planning and budgeting committees view the groups' effectiveness.

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 30 Issue 5

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