In spring of 2017, the Chancellor’s task force performed a review of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s (UNL) budget system and released a report recommending the university move from a Central-Administration Management (CAM) model to a modified Responsibility Centered Management (RCM) Model.

The implementation of a new budget model is a major undertaking. The Executive Committee, made up of the Chancellor’s Executive Leadership Team, along with a steering committee, appointed in 2019 representing colleges and departments across campus, initiated this process with assistance from Huron Consulting Group, Inc. Initial efforts by these groups included establishing a set of principles which have guided UNL’s budget model redesign efforts.

Guiding Principles

  • Supports the values, mission, and strategic vision of the University in the advancement of excellence in teaching, research, creative activity, outreach and engagement.
  • Provides units with the responsibility and accountability in order to enable and empower those units to be efficient, entrepreneurial, collaborative, flexible and creative
  • Allows for investments in University strategic priorities and ongoing support of mission-critical campus operations.
  • Supports collaborative, data-driven decision making.
  • Provides accessible, predictable and clear information that is simple to understand, is transparent and facilitates trust across campus, and is subject to periodic review.

What is UNL's budget model and how does it work?

UNL chose an incentive based budget (IBB) model. This model gives operational authority to primary units (colleges and auxiliaries) and support units or cost pools (academic affairs, facilities and research) by allowing them to align their goals with the University's central missions - Teaching, Research and Outreach.

The budget model has three types of funds (revenues and expenses):

  • Allocable and Direct Revenues - tuition, fees, and state appropriations
  • Direct Expenditures - salaries, wages and benefits
  • Support Unit Allocations (costs) - academic, student and administrative support, facilities and research

See Model Introduction for more information.

The steering committee began their initial work on the budget redesign in early 2019 to develop the model structure and solidify recommendations for initial key model decision points for the allocation of revenues and expenses. A major component of the process was engagement with the campus community. Academic deans and their leadership teams were continually engaged during the process. Several rounds of meetings took place discussing the project’s progress and overall model structure to provide insight and gain feedback from each College for customized model development inputs which reflect UNL’s unique mission and guiding principles.

In June and August of 2019, campus forums were held so faculty and staff could become informed about the project. Both forums included a review of the project, explanations regarding various components of the budget model, and Q&A sessions. The second forum included a panel of four peers from select research universities in the nation who have experience and insights regarding incentive-based budgeting models.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 had a significant impact on the implementation progress during FY20. During this time reframing efforts took place, as well as a focus on data quality and integrity, and a subsequent reengagement effort began in Fall of 2021.