Academic journal article Journal of Applied Research in the Community College

A Performance-Based Web Budget Tool

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Research in the Community College

A Performance-Based Web Budget Tool

Article excerpt

A web-based formula-driven tool has been developed for the purpose of performing two distinct academic department budgeting functions: allocation funding to the department, and budget management by the department. The tool's major features are discussed and its uses demonstrated. The tool's advantages are presented.

Introduction and Purpose

Performance-driven or formula-based approaches to budgeting consist of gauging financial allocation to a number of key indicators of performance so that budgetary decisions are driven by the magnitude of these indicators. The funding process is typically driven by an arithmetic formula that incorporates these major key indicators.

In this study, a performance-based tool to drive budgeting decisions and to monitor department budgets is advanced. The key performance indicators driving the tool have been derived from Kapiolani Community College's program-review reports. Like other dynamic tools that reside on the web, this tool allows for a giant leap in functionality compared with early forms of manually driven tools (such as the one presented by Scheldt in 1978) .

In researching web-based interactive formuladriven budget tools two examples were found on the World Wide Web. The Massachusetts tool is used to solicit citizens' input by deriving various scenarios to balance the budget of the state of Massachusetts. The visitor is allowed to change the percentage allocations of some major state spending categories onscreen and observe the impact this change has on the total state budget. This tool was found at http:// www.playmassbalance.com but appears now to be inactive.

The governor's office of the state of Maine presents another tool in which the user can change the various state budget allocations and observe the effect each change has on the overall state budget. This tool is available at http://www.maine.gov/governor/baldacci/policy/budget/index.html.

Not much is available in the literature by way of automated tools that compare to the one presented in this study, although Shipman (2002) reports that even the White House uses the formula-based budgeting approach. A succinct review of the literature has been recently made by Abou-Sayf and Lau (2006).

The Tool

The budget tool that has been designed at Kapiolani Community College (KCC) has a number of specific and unique features. No tool was found in the literature that compares to this one's functionality as related to academia. KCCs tool is available at http://iro.kcc.hawaii.edu/tool.html.

The use of a web interface allows for control of access to various levels of information while simultaneously offering portability of the tool. Thus, access and restriction to various levels of information from this tool can be programmed for various levels of users. A web interface also limits users from making unsolicited changes and prevents tampering with historical and other hard-coded data that are part of the tool. Finally, a web-based tool allows for a significant amount of user- friendliness.

Features

At its essence, the tool is a super-calculator that was tailor-made for budgeting purposes at KCC, but can be modified to accommodate other academic institutions' budgeting needs. The tool was built from a myriad of conventional institutional-research formulas and relationships (available from the authors upon request), and permits the computation of complicated relationships instantaneously. The data that populate it are typically obtained from the business office and institutional research. The tool serves two distinct purposes: budget allocation to the department by the college administration and budget management by the department. It was designed specifically for instructional programs and may not be useful for the same purpose for non-instructional units, e.g. libraries. As of this writing, the tool is made up of seven sections (Figure 1) , each identified by its own tab. …

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