What is Transparent, Activity-Based Budget System (TABBS)?

Transparent, Activity-Based Budget System (TABBS) is a responsibility centre management model adopted by the University of Saskatchewan to develop a more responsive and transparent budgeting system for the university. The second integrated plan identified the need for our institution to strengthen its financial position and stewardship through sustainable budgeting, developing existing and new revenue streams, improving our control environment, enhancing transparency and implementing a process for more informed resource allocation. Promise and Potential, the third integrated plan, continues this commitment with a focus on ensuring all existing and new resources align with our institutional priorities.

Originally established as the Resource Allocation Project within the Financial Resources Commitment, the Transparent, Activity-Based Budget System (TABBS) informs decision-making about budget levels and reduces dependency on historical agreements. This model 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 TABBS model aligns the authority over revenues and costs with the responsibility for revenues and costs, creating a “full cost” view of revenue generating operations.

What will TABBS do?

TABBS will:

  • align college and unit budgets with activities in a more transparent, comprehensive and systematic way;
  • link budgets to cycles of integrated planning;
  • ensure resources are put behind strategic priorities; and,
  • place responsibility for budgets at the appropriate college/unit and university levels.

TABBS will NOT:

  • create NEW revenue for the university to allocate at the outset;
  • change the role of deans, the Board of Governors or the Provost’s Committee on Integrated Planning (PCIP) in financial decision-making;
  • result in zero-based budgeting (zero-based budgeting is a method of beginning each new budgeting process with a zero-base, or from the ground up, as though the budget was being prepared for the first time);
  • change the teaching and research missions of the university;
  • change the allocation of funds which are restricted to a college or unit; or
  • change internal guidelines and practices (such as those related to fee-for-service activity).

How does TABBS change the way we do things?

TABBS currently focuses on allocation of operating budget revenue and will become more comprehensive in scope over time. TABBS will improve budgeting in the following ways:

  • improve the quality of information used to inform decision-making;
  • support the university’s goal to work across units in a collaborative way;
  • increase the awareness of university costs leading to increased efficiency;
  • support areas of strategic importance to the university through the maintenance of a central fund for strategic innovation (along the lines of the Academic Priorities Fund);
  • increase accountability by placing responsibility for budgets at the appropriate level (based on the principle of subsidiary);
  • replace current ad-hoc resource measures such as tuition revenue sharing agreements and certain fee-for-service arrangements; and
  • provide incentives to colleges and units aligned with the university’s strategic plan and planning documents.