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Budget Process Due for a Tune Up

In the coming months, managers across campus will be taking a hard look at how they spend money, with an eye toward doing it smarter and more efficiently. In the world of finance, it’s called resource allocation – the practice of getting the most bang for your buck.

It’s an important process, especially since the university is serious about aligning its spending priorities with its strategic plan. But, says Ginger Burks, you shouldn’t put the cart before the horse.

“Before we say we need to do something differently, let’s understand how we do it now,” she says.

Burks, director of cost analysis, is sharing a chart (requires Unity ID) with department heads and other managers across campus to give them a detailed look at the current flow of budget dollars.

“It’s very complex. We don’t have just one resource allocation process,” she says. “But we can make better decisions if we have more concrete and data-driven information.”

An Eye for Detail

Burks knows what she’s talking about. Before joining the university last fall, she spent a decade at UNC General Administration, where she helped develop budget policies and priorities submitted to the Board of Governors and the state legislature.

Less than a month after she arrived on campus, Burks took the helm of the Budget Restructuring Task Force, a 13-member committee charged with assuring best practices in key business and finance areas. The committee’s target list includes:

  • Budgeting methods and processes
  • Budget distribution adequacy and allocation methodologies
  • Academic cost analysis
  • Administrative budget analysis
  • Model for position support

At the one-year mark, the committee is now in the midst of Phase I of a two-phase process, comparing the university budget against actual expenditures and assessing its performance in enrollment management, among other things. In the spring, the committee will launch a similar evaluation at the college and unit levels across campus.

In Phase II, the committee will put all the accumulated data to work and look at alternative models for resource allocation.

“The question we sometimes ask ourselves is: If we were inventing the budget process tomorrow, what would things look like?” Burks says.

Meet the Task Force

Ginger Burks, Chair
Director of Cost Analysis

Frank Buckless
Department Head, Accounting

David Bristol
Vice Provost, Academic Resource Management

Jayne Fleener
Dean, College of Education

Ryan Hancock
Chair of the Staff Senate

Steve Keto
Associate Vice Chancellor, Finance and Resource Management

Duane Larick
Sr. Vice Provost, Academic Strategy and Resource Management

Barbara Moses
University Budget Director

Margery Overton
Special Assistant to the Provost and
Professor of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

Vicki Pennington
Assistant Vice Provost

Barbara Sherry
Professor of Molecular Biomedical Sciences

Laura Taylor
Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics

David Zonderman
Chair of the Faculty and
Professor of History