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Priorities for Excellence: The Penn State Strategic Plan 2009-10 through 2013-14

Goal 7: Control Costs and Generate Additional Efficiencies
Strategy 7.4: Develop Frameworks for Greater Budgeting and Staffing Flexibility

Currently, the costs for faculty and staff benefits including health care and retirement are budgeted centrally by the University. Thus, the costs to the institution of additional faculty and staff hiring do not enter directly into the expenditure decisions of unit leaders. The current model of centrally pooled benefits budgeting clearly has advantages, but the disadvantage is also apparent in that benefits essentially become a “free good” at the unit operating level.

The University should explore various possibilities of change to the current model. Change could include, at the least, the sharing of information with unit executives concerning the costs of existing employees and the additional costs of future faculty and staff. Alternatively, while keeping benefits costs budgeted centrally, units could be provided with an allocation of benefits for current employees and required to transfer permanent funds to central administration to cover benefits for additional new employees.

The University has created many programs in recent years to support staff development and leadership, which have been, by all indications, very successful in improving the quality and performance of staff. These programs should be continued and shifted to an even greater focus on flexibility and cross-training for a wider range of responsibilities. Such development provides greater opportunities for staff personal and professional growth, as well as opportunities for the University to adjust to changing workforce requirements. Similarly, the use of less-than-full-time and less-than-full-year staff appointments should be expanded both to accommodate growing staff interest in such appointments and to improve the efficiency of academic and administrative operations that may not require traditional full-time appointments.

  • Senior Vice President for Finance and Business—Primary
  • President and Budget Task Force