The University’s Planning and Budgeting System

The University adopted its Planning andBudgeting System (PBS) in 1992, replacing the earlier Planning and Resource Management System. PBS combines long-range planning andbudgeting; operational plans and budgets based on performance, personnel, capital, and financial budgets; budget modifications and augmentations; facilities management and development; and evaluation of all University programs and responsibility centers.

PBS was intended to promote transparency, cooperation, and coordination among members of the University community; to increase accountability; and to improve planning and budgeting decision making.

Since its creation in 1992, PBS has been reviewed and revised twice. In 1995, the Ad Hoc Planning and Budgeting System Review Committee was charged with evaluating PBS and recommending modifications for its improvement. After significant research and analysis, the committee noted in its 1996 report that “PBS has made a difference in the quality and effectiveness of planning and budgeting activities and can continue to do so” (see Institutional Effectiveness Working GroupReport). Nonetheless, the committee developed 12 specific recommendations to address PBS’s shortcomings or areas identified for improvement, which can be summarized as follows:

  • PBS has not yet fully achieved its goals but has the potential to evolve into a process that will change the management culture of the University.
  • The PBS guidelines should continue to steer, in the short term, University planning and budgeting activities. The guidelines should provide adequate flexibility to recognize differences among units and the role of other governance structures. A future review should consider reformulating the guidelines as the University gains more experience with PBS.
  • University leaders should support and be comfortable with PBS and shared governance and make effective use of unit-level planning and budgeting committees (PBC) to improve decision making.
  • Widespread dissemination of PBC activities will promote transparency and the effectiveness of the planning and budgeting process and will enhance unit accountability.

The committee’s recommendations were adopted in a subsequent revision of PBS. Consistent with one of the recommendations, a second Ad Hoc Planning and Budgeting System Evaluation Committee was charged in 2002. Based on assessment results, this committee made seven recommendations, all of which were adopted into a revised PBS in 2003. The recommendations further clarified the roles of key stakeholders, including the Faculty Assembly, Staff Association Council, Senate Council, deans, department chairs, and the Provost, and encouraged regular reporting and assessment of plans and budgets at all levels of the University.

As a result of accrued experience using PBS and the recommendations provided by two ad hoc review committees, PBS itself has improved markedly over time, facilitating the University’s efforts to achieve its mission by promoting the articulation of clear and measurable goals, transparency, and open dialogue and communication.

The University Senate also facilitates assessment of PBS. The Senate Budget Policies Committee (SBPC) monitors planning and budgeting processes, fosters broad participation across the University, ensures transparency, and considers benchmarking data in its recommendations. The senate can affect University-level goals and decisions by highlighting University policies and processes (see PBS Document, section1.3.3). Where there are major policy differences with the administration, SBPC raises those issues. SBPC uses benchmarking data in forming its recommendations. For example, benchmarking data about compensation levels at member institutions of the Association of American Universities informed its salary increase recommendations. SBPC also surveys responsibility centers to ascertain whether unit-level PBCs are operating, and, in the spirit of transparency and benchmarking, it ensures that information about average salaries at the University of Pittsburgh and peer group comparisons is disseminated to the University community.