Sept. 1, 2011

Budget model review begins this month

by Anne Krapfl

The process of collecting campus input on Iowa State's 3-year-old budget model begins in earnest with a Sept. 23 half-day symposium and continues with interviews, focus group sessions and open forums later in the semester. First announced in June, the intent is to complete the review process and submit recommendations to executive vice president and provost Elizabeth Hoffman by the end of this academic year.

Iowa State units first used the current budget model -- known as the Resource Management Model (RMM) -- to build budgets for the 2009 fiscal year (July 1, 2008-June 30, 2009). The committee that adapted and led its implementation recommended a thorough review of the model after three to five years of use. A 10-member review committee hired Resource Planning and Management Associates, Nashville, to assist with the information gathering this fall. One of the principals, Dave Maddox, assisted with the process of implementing the current budget model in 2007 and 2008.

Email your comments, suggestions

Any university employee or student may submit comments or suggest changes for the RMM via, or through an anonymous online submission form.


Maddox and colleague Robert Stickney will lead a half-day symposium Sept. 23 for about 100 invited participants, including senior leaders; department chairs; fiscal officers; Faculty Senate, Professional and Scientific Council and research center representatives; students and members of the review committee. They'll work in small groups to identify features of the RMM that work well and not so well, and suggest what further information is needed to make informed recommendations for change. The symposium is designed as a work session to prepare the consultants for the subsequent interviews and focus group sessions they will lead.

Focus groups, individual interviews, open forums

Maddox, Stickney and members of the review committee will conduct one-on-one interviews and lead focus group sessions during the remainder of the fall semester. Director of university budgets Dave Biedenbach said more than 200 members of the university community will be directly involved in one or the other.

He said dates and locations for several open forums on the budget model's performance, open to everyone, will be announced when they're finalized. Biedenbach also emphasized that anyone may submit input about the RMM to the review committee, via email or online, throughout the review process.

What's up for review?

Over the summer, members of the review committee developed a list of issues encountered during the first three years of budget model use. That list will begin -- but not limit -- the conversation at events this fall. Biedenbach offered these examples of what's on the list so far:

  • How has the budget model changed the discussion about resources being distributed to colleges differentially?
  • Is it OK that colleges commit resources differently?
  • How has the budget model addressed differences in cost of instruction?
  • Is how we allocate central administrative costs appropriate?
  • Does the model put administrative offices at an unfair advantage (they don't benefit directly from tuition or indirect costs growth but share in state appropriation cuts)?
  • Does the current distribution of indirect costs support the shift in Iowa State's grants environment to an even stronger focus on large, multi-disciplinary team proposals?
  • Are the budget advisory groups effective in engaging faculty and staff in budget-related decisions?