Institutional Planning and Assessment releases updated version of TABBS scenario analysis tool

Transparent, Activity-Based Budget System, or TABBS as it is more commonly referred to, is a responsibility centre management model adopted by the University of Saskatchewan in response to needing a more responsive and transparent budgeting system for the university.

Originally established as the resource allocation project within the second integrated plan, the third integrated plan continues this commitment to ensure all existing and new resources align with our institutional priorities.

The role of TABBS is to inform decision-making about budget levels and reduce dependency on historical agreements. TABBS aligns college and unit budgets with activities in a more transparent, comprehensive and systematic way, linking budgets to cycles of integrated planning, ensuring resources are put behind strategic priorities, and placing responsibility for budgets at the appropriate college/unit and university levels.

The scenario analysis tool, a key element of TABBS, combines the four components of the TABBS model - the provincial operating grant, tuition, expenses and occupancy - in to a single, modifiable tool. It also allows users to make changes to student activity, research activity, faculty/staff, occupancy and non-salary costs, and observe the change in TABBS results.  

This is a valuable tool for deans, executive directors and financial officers, allowing them the ability to examine the effect of changes in key underlying variables on TABBS outcomes and assisting in the preparation of TABBS figures in support of proposals and resource allocation decisions.

"We had the opportunity to use the TABBS model in a recent submission that was made to the Provost's Committee on Integrated Planning (PCIP)," said Twyla Rudovica, financial officer, School of Environment and Sustainability and Global Institute for Water Security.

"The model was fairly user friendly and helped us project out various scenarios to see the impact on the model if we increased enrolment for our graduate courses, shared faculty with other units to teach in undergrad courses, increased research, brought in new faculty members or offered new courses. It was interesting to be able to see a quantifiable impact that making various changes would have to our unit's financial situation within the model."

As part of the TABBS process, a version of the model is released every fall when a new financial year of data becomes available and an updated version is released every spring which encompasses model structure and process changes.

The spring 2013 version, released on June 12, included the following updates:

  • Changing the cost driver for the faculty and staff support cost bin from salaries and benefits expense to faculty and staff headcount
  • Adding "casual" as an employment class type in the "faculty/staff" section (casual staff count as 0.25 FTEs when allocating the faculty/staff support cost bin)
  • Use of an updated space assignment file from Facilities Management Division
  • Movement of various programs within units to ensure alignment of resources and expenses
  • Use of actual Saskatchewan Universities Funding Mechanism full load equivalent figures for 2011/12, as this information was not available at the time of the model release
  • Removal of post grad clinical students from the model
  • Expanding the number of modeling groups available in one projection for student headcounts

The fall version, which will include 2012-13 year end information, is scheduled for release in October 2013.

Further information on TABBS can be found on the newly redesigned TABBS website. The new site aims to simplify the explanation of the model, explaining what it does and does not do and why it is a valuable tool for the university.