In the spring of 2017, a 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 our incremental budget 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 the development of this model with assistance from Huron Consulting Group, Inc. Initial efforts by these groups included establishing a set of principles that 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 proposed budget model and how does it work?

UNL chose an incentive-based budget (IBB) model. This model features a data-driven allocation model designed to incentivize and strengthen the university's key missions of 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 its 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 that reflect UNL’s unique mission and guiding principles.

In June and August of 2019, campus forums took place to inform faculty and staff 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 of the model. During this time significant budgetary uncertainty, expansion of the scope of the model for Centers and reframing efforts took place, and a subsequent re-engagement effort began in 2021 into 2022.

A search for a new UNL Chancellor launched in early 2023, and that, along with economic and budgetary constraints, has delayed full implementation; however, aspects of this model are being used in budget planning and decision-making.