Principles for Operating Budget Adjustments Project
As of September, 2012
Background: In May 2012, the Board of Governors at the University of Saskatchewan asked university administration to produce a sustainable balanced budget, reducing operating expenditures by $44.5 million annually and balancing the budget by 2015/16 while at the same time supporting the strategic priorities of the university as described in Promise and Potential, the University’s Third Integrated Plan, and in the Strategic Directions. This is the second time in four years that the university has been asked to address a significant budgetary challenge. In 2008/09, following the global economic downturn, the university achieved $10 million (or 3%) in permanent reductions through mildly targeted cuts which protected the three new graduate schools, the College of Graduate Studies and Research, and University Advancement. The current challenge represents just over 8% of the university’s projected operating revenues by 2016 and is expected to require highly selective actions on the part of the university, including the possibility of closing academic programs, departments and colleges, to be achieved.
Based on previous experience and guided by institutional goals and plans, the process that will be followed will be deliberate, principled, multi-pronged and strategic. The University will utilize all of its considerable resources (people and financial) to address this challenge and to ensure that it addresses the current fiscal realities and shepherds its financial, capital and human resources in an effective, humane, and respectful manner.
Aligned with the vision of the university to ‘hold an honourable place among the best’, as described in Promise and Potential, and guided by the Strategic Directions, the operating budget adjustments process 2012-2016 will be based on the following principles:
Alignment: The budget adjustment process will ensure that decisions are aligned with the university’s vision and its teaching, research and service missions, as expressed in the Strategic Directions, the Foundational Documents and integrated plan.
1. Be aligned with the university’s vision as expressed in the Strategic Directions, Foundational Documents and integrated plan.
Comprehensiveness: The budget adjustment process will take a holistic view of the university and all of its resources, including the opportunity to collaborate internally as well as with other post-secondary institutions within the province and beyond.
2. Take a holistic view of the university and all of its resources, including the opportunity to collaborate internally and with external partners.
Sustainability: The budget adjustment process will look for budgetary savings and new revenues which result in a balanced operating budget by 2016 and which lay the groundwork for the university’s future success by demonstrating responsible, prudent and sustainable stewardship of resources.
3. Look for long-term, sustainable, operating budget leading to a more efficient, innovative and responsive university.
Transparency: The process to be followed and the criteria upon which decisions will be made will be clearly stated and readily available to the general university community. There will be opportunities for the university community to influence the criteria and the process, particularly for academic programs and decisions which require the approval of the University Council and Senate. It is understood that the principle of transparency must be balanced against the obligations of the university enunciated within its collective agreements and the rights of individuals for due process. This is particularly important in the context of job loss which is anticipated as part of this process.
4. Be transparent with respect to process and criteria, integrative and consultative.
Respectfulness: The process will be especially respectful of all groups and individuals involved, particularly those who are directly affected by change.
5. Treat individuals with respect and dignity.
Evidence-informed: Recommendations of the Steering Committee to the Provost’s Committee on Integrated Planning (PCIP) and to the Council committees (where appropriate) will be based on evidence which is properly assembled and with criteria widely understood.
6. Base decision-making on defined criteria.
Opportunity: Opportunities to differentiate the University of Saskatchewan by sharpening focus and acting on strategic advantages to achieve research, teaching and service goals will be supported and encouraged.
7. Look for opportunities to differentiate ourselves by sharpening our focus and acting on our strategic advantages to achieve our research, teaching and service goals.
Accountability: The process to be followed will be informed and guided by the recommendations of institutional leadership, leading practice and evidence appropriately assembled. A high degree of importance will be placed on ensuring that the leaders of academic and administrative units undertake actions which are strategically correct for the university, rather than working to achieve the narrow outcomes for individual colleges, schools or administrative units. The process will support the university’s pursuit of a culture of high performance at all levels.
8. Be informed and guided by the recommendations of institutional leadership, leading practice, and evidence.
Consultation: The operating budget adjustment process will follow a broadly consultative approach to ensure that the general campus community is aware of the anticipated changes and the consequences of these changes (within limitations of collective agreements) and will utilize existing governance mechanisms, established policies and processes, including the principle of subsidiarity. Consultations and approvals will be required with Council and Council committees where academic programs, departments, and units are affected.
9. Take action consistent with existing governance mechanisms, established policies and processes, including the principle of subsidiarity.
Timeliness: Decisions will be made in a timely fashion to ensure that the campus community is not engaged in an extended process which unnecessarily and negatively affects institutional morale.
10. Decisions will be made in a timely fashion.
The committee also sets out the following principles to inform our deliberations:
Confidentiality: Information or documentation on the specific actions to be undertaken will not be shared beyond the quadrant teams and Operating Budget Adjustments Steering Committee without the consent of the Provost and Vice-President Academic and/or the Vice President Finance and Resources. It is important to understand that the quadrant and steering committee members should not be adding to rumours that will circulate within the campus community about this project/process and that all communications must be circulated through official channels only.
Conflict of Interest: Any real or perceived conflict of interest shall be identified and disclosed as soon as a committee member becomes aware of it so that it can be appropriately considered by the quadrant team or steering committee. In general, the university’s conflict of interest policy will be followed.
Role of Quadrant team members, quadrant team leads, and steering committee members: The work of these groups is deliberative and they will act as deliberative bodies for the purposes of this project. While individual members will bring a broadly based perspective, they are not explicitly representatives of groups in the sense of a constituent assembly. Rather, their role is to exercise independent judgment keeping in mind the best interests of the university.
Finite Role of Steering Committee and Quadrant Teams/Leads: The work of the steering committee and quadrant teams/leads is important but transitory: appointees and incumbents have no obligation beyond their appointment except to maintain confidentiality to protect the individual and collective discussions of the committee and quadrant teams.
<as of September 5, 2012>