Media Releases

U of T budget model wins gold for public sector innovation

March 11, 2013

TORONTO, ON – A new, inno­v­a­tive approach to bud­get­ing has earned the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to a gold medal in the IPAC/Deloitte Pub­lic Sec­tor Lead­er­ship Awards – cre­at­ed to rec­og­nize excel­lence, inno­va­tion and impact in the pub­lic sec­tor.

The new approach – one that relied on fac­ul­ties to craft their own cre­ative solu­tions to the chal­lenge of work­ing with lim­it­ed resources – was adopt­ed so that the uni­ver­si­ty could make bet­ter-informed deci­sions and achieve a trans­par­ent, ratio­nal allo­ca­tion of funds.

“Our advi­so­ry com­mit­tee was impressed by the inno­v­a­tive approach the U of T bud­get mod­el rep­re­sents,” said Robert P. Tay­lor, chief exec­u­tive offi­cer of IPAC. “But even more impor­tant, we were impressed that the mod­el can, and is, being used by oth­er insti­tu­tions across the coun­try.  That means the ben­e­fit is not just to one insti­tu­tion but to an entire sec­tor.”

The new process has been so suc­cess­ful, the uni­ver­si­ty is now help­ing oth­er insti­tu­tions adopt the same approach.

“With this ini­tia­tive, we’ve cer­tain­ly been inno­v­a­tive but it’s not been inno­va­tion for its own sake,” said Pro­fes­sor Scott Mabury, vice-pres­i­dent of oper­a­tions. “We’ve also gen­er­at­ed very sub­stan­tial val­ue for the institute’s mis­sion. And with oth­er uni­ver­si­ties now imple­ment­ing the same process­es I think that’s def­i­nite­ly val­i­dat­ed… adop­tion is the real mea­sure of impact.

“Some uni­ver­si­ties, with our help, have been able to adopt much of our mod­el.”

Mem­bers of the task force that helped devel­op the new bud­get mod­el faced a huge chal­lenge, Mabury said: how to find a mod­el that pro­vid­ed incen­tives for fac­ul­ties to gen­er­ate rev­enues and cut costs while still fund­ing aca­d­e­m­ic pri­or­i­ties and sup­port­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive research and teach­ing.

The result­ing mod­el gen­er­at­ed robust debate when it was intro­duced in the 2006/2007 aca­d­e­m­ic year but today it ensures that aca­d­e­m­ic vision and strat­e­gy are aligned with the finan­cial infor­ma­tion need­ed to make crit­i­cal bud­get deci­sions, Mabury said.

The new mod­el takes a rig­or­ous approach to cal­cu­lat­ing the true cost of aca­d­e­m­ic pro­grams in the dif­fer­ent divi­sions of Canada’s largest uni­ver­si­ty. Tuition and oper­at­ing grant rev­enues for each unit are now mea­sured against its share of cen­tral costs such as care­tak­ing, human resources, util­i­ties, infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy and finance.

The increase in trans­paren­cy helped debunk some myths as to which fac­ul­ties were sub­si­diz­ing oth­ers, Mabury said. It also helped admin­is­tra­tors find cre­ative ways to cut costs. For exam­ple, the Temer­ty Temer­ty Fac­ul­ty of Med­i­cine recon­fig­ured its use of space on cam­pus, free­ing up some of their space, which allowed the uni­ver­si­ty to cre­ate the new Bant­i­ng and Best Cen­tre for Inno­va­tion and Entre­pre­neur­ship.

In addi­tion to lead­er­ship and inno­va­tion, the IPAC/Deloitte judges con­sid­er cri­te­ria such as impact, bold­ness, exe­cu­tion, results, col­lab­o­ra­tion and replic­a­bil­i­ty.  Oth­er win­ners in the edu­ca­tion divi­sion of the IPAC/Deloitte awards were McGill Uni­ver­si­ty (sil­ver) and CEGEP de Sher­brooke (bronze).

“There was real pas­sion, com­mit­ment and an over­all can-do atti­tude with this year’s win­ners,” said George Ross, Ontario Deputy Min­is­ter and IPAC Pres­i­dent.  “These projects demon­strate orig­i­nal­i­ty and a real dri­ve to find effi­cien­cies dur­ing a very chal­leng­ing eco­nom­ic envi­ron­ment.

“These pub­lic sec­tor lead­ers are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.”


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