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April 28, 2016


More on Pitt’s Planning and Budgeting System

To the editor:

It is clear from Faculty Assembly’s discussion of Pitt’s Planning and Budgeting System (PBS) that most faculty have little knowledge of the PBS, and PBS requirements are not being followed in many University responsibility centers (April 14 University Times).

This is a serious concern because Section 1.3.1 of the PBS document (Planning and Budget Committees section) requires that, in each responsibility center, “faculty, staff, and students have ample opportunities to participate in the development of proposed plans and budgets.”

Section 1.3.1 also states: “The majority of the PBC shall be elected… .” However, some Faculty Assembly members reported that PBS committee elections have not been held for years in their responsibility center.

Furthermore, many Faculty Assembly members said PBS committees in their responsibility center do not see any budget numbers. This is a major violation of requirements outlined in PBS Section 3, Operational Planning and Budgeting. Each department, responsibility center and senior vice chancellor area PBS committee is charged to develop a financial plan and budget that “details the unit’s estimated revenues and expenditures, from all sources and for all purposes.”

To assist PBS committees, Section 3.3 states: “At the beginning of each operational planning and budgeting cycle, the Chancellor develops the following information for distribution to the senior vice chancellor areas, responsibility centers, and departments:”

This includes (Section 3.3.2): Historical data “…. will be provided for a multi-year period on such matters as enrollments; student credit hour production and consumption; staffing information with regard to faculty, staff, and graduate students; financial information by source and use of funds; and summaries of annual budget modifications. The most recent Revenue and Cost Attribution Study will also be distributed.”

The administration unilaterally stopped producing the Revenue and Cost Attribution study in 2009 (March 19, 2009, University Times Senate Matters). It was resumed two years ago as a secret, view-only document.

This and the Faculty Assembly discussion raise an important question: Has the administration also unilaterally deemed the budget information mandated by PBS Section 3 for distribution to PBS committees to be secret and, therefore, does not distribute it to PBS committees?

PBS committee members who are not receiving their unit’s detailed revenue and expenditure information, as required by the PBS document, should inform the Senate budget policies committee of this fact so the violation can be corrected.

For many years the administration has not shown University Planning and Budget Committee (UPBC) members a proposed operational plan and budget that details estimated revenues and expenditures. UPBC members only see estimated additive-subtractive differences to items in the previous year’s budget which balance the new budget; actual item amounts are not shown.

Even though it may not be distributed, the administration annually collects the detailed financial data the PBS mandates for distribution to each department, responsibility center and senior vice chancellor area. If it wants to keep this information secret and not share it with PBS committees, it should publicly say so and revise the PBS document accordingly. Otherwise, this information should be shared with PBS committees as the PBS dictates.

John J. Baker
Emeritus associate professor
School of Dental Medicine
(Baker is a former chair of the Senate budget policies committee and a past Senate president. The views expressed in this letter are the author’s own.)

The following letter was submitted in response to John Baker’s letter.

Working in close collaboration, the Council of Deans and the University Senate have just completed a review and update of the Planning and Budgeting System (PBS). In defining our system of shared governance, the PBS has served the University well in uniting students, staff, faculty and administrators in the joint effort of advancing Pitt’s mission. And particularly in light of the smooth and collegial review process that has just concluded, we are confident that the revised document will continue to facilitate our collective efforts to drive the University forward.

The review process did reveal areas for improvement in adhering to PBS guidelines, including in the sharing of relevant information among participants at all levels of the planning hierarchy. As a result, administrative liaisons have pledged their support to the Senate budget policies committee, which bears the responsibility of oversight in the implementation of the PBS. Coupled with improvements to the PBS itself, improved adherence promises to further strengthen shared governance at Pitt.

Beverly Gaddy
University Senate
Budget Policies Committee
Associate Professor,
Political Science
Frank Wilson
University Senate
Assistant Professor,
Sociology and Criminal Justice
David DeJong
Executive Vice Provost

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