From the list of strategies in the introduction of this week, choose a budgeting process that is or can be used in a higher education institution of your choosing.
Based on your reading in the literature, complete an evaluation of a budgeting process at an institution with which you are familiar. For this assignment, pretend you are a management consultant to the institution. After your evaluation of the budget:
Provide a professionally composed summary of your findings, along with recommendations for process improvement in an executive recommendation and synopsis document. In addition to these required resources, other appropriate scholarly resources, including older articles, may be included.
Length: 5-7 pages, not including the title and reference pages
References: Include a minimum of five scholarly resources.
Your evaluation should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course by providing new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect graduate-level writing and APA standards.
Budgets involve devising a financial plan that includes provisions for planning, receiving and spending funds, and evaluating results (Brimley & Garfield, 2007, p. 356). To accomplish these tasks, budgeting is a continuous process that is revised to reflect current school year goals and needs. Brimley and Garfield (2007) highlight the basic functions of the budget.
- The budget lays out projects and priorities as part of a plan for the school program for the fiscal period.
- The budget accounts for sources for funds, expenses, and assigns authority for allocating funds.
- The budget informs the public about educational programs.
- The budget provides for evaluating and comparing program offerings.
- The budget is a vehicle for careful planning, control, and wise spending of funds.
- The budget highlights the relationship of local, state, and federal government education support.
Some important alternatives offered for those creating a budgeting plan include:
- Strategic Planning – A technique that helps leaders set goals over a designated period, usually 3-5 years. Many stakeholders are involved in setting the goals and objectives of the organization and aligning them with existing and anticipated programs. The budget is then developed based on priorities set in the planning process and updated annually as goals are met and as new challenges develop. The process and planning stage is an integral part of the budgeting process.
- Total Quality Management – This strategy has been proposed to bring about systematic change in schools. Meetings are held with stakeholders to determine a “shared vision of excellence.” The process includes brainstorming and discussion and data gathering. Solutions are evaluated and then the total organization evaluates the effectiveness of a choice. If successful, it is established as a fixed practice (Brimley & Garfield, 2005, p. 323).
- Incremental or Line Item Budgeting – This system is based on the premise that organizations require the amount of money currently allocated to them to meet current obligations and that decision makers must only consider the need for inflationary increases, mandated reductions, and new programs or initiatives.
- Planning/Programming/Budgeting or Project Management Systems – This is a system created to offer administrators objective information for planning goals and selecting among educational programs. This system promotes planning for a budget over many years in a cycle that included establishing goals, determining costs, evaluating outcomes, improvement, and adding to programs to achieve objectives. Budgets are tied to specific programs supported by the agency and priorities are established that relate to the importance of the programs to be funded and their success in accomplishing their goals. Expenses are computed for each program and reviewed annually.
- Zero-Base Budgeting – In this system, every program must be justified throughout the budgeting decision-making process. The total cost of the program is considered in each budgeting cycle, and decisions are made based on the priority assigned to the program to either increase, decrease, or eliminate funding. It begins with a bottom-up approach that ranks, identifies, and chooses alternatives.
- Site-Based Budgeting – This system involves institutional leaders working to align student needs with available funds and requires grass roots involvement in the budgeting, planning, and oversight decisions. Administrators act as facilitators in the budgeting process.
- Responsibility centered budgeting—This strategy is an entrepreneurial system that emphasizes decentralized budgeting and ties the amount of money allocated for programs directly to their capacity to generate income. Costs for each program are computed with a percentage added that reflects expenses that are shared across programs (e.g., administration, libraries, and sometimes facilities and central computing). After that, the “Return on Investment” (ROI) is returned to the generating agency and is budgeted by that unit to support its program.
Creating a budget strategy is very important. The budget has an impact on all facets of the institution and can drive the success or failure of institutional projects and priorities. Higher education institutions encounter and negotiate with a wide range of stakeholders competing for resources that are often in short supply. The higher education administrator, acting in a fiscal management capacity, must develop budgets that meet – to the extent possible – often competing demands of stakeholders while simultaneously maintaining fiscal balance and responsibility. To this end, it is critical that those charged with leadership roles in higher education have a solid understanding of budget models and processes.