Where we are

School/college and central fiscal officers have been meeting regularly with Budget Administration to work through data verification issues and questions. Some minor concerns are being addressed, including points regarding leased space and the titles included/excluded in employee headcount numbers.

Data verification, as it relates to the revenue and cost allocation drivers in the budget model, is now complete. This is a crucial step prior to launching the new Axiom financial reporting system. Budget Administration will continue to meet with fiscal officers as the shadow year progresses to proactively manage implementation questions.

If you missed the recent town hall presentation by Provost Pam Benoit and Allen Bolton, which included an RCM update, you can watch online here

 

Next steps

Representatives from Axiom were on campus in the first weeks of November to continue advising on the implementation process. If all goes well technically, initial RCM revenue and expense reports for the first month of the FY2018 “shadow” year will be shared with schools/college starting in early December.

On Nov. 28, UAB deans were shown a live demo of the Axiom software. Budget Administration will begin meeting with fiscal officers later this week for preliminary Axiom training.

 

What about the Mission Fee?

For the first quarter of our FY2018 “shadow” year, the objective is to validate the data and model the impact of RCM on revenues and expenses at the school/college level.

Beginning in January, we will start modeling the impact of the mission fee, which will be used to create the Strategic Investment Fund as well as the discretionary funds necessary for redistribution to the schools/college, as needed in FY2019. 

 

Question of the week

Is all this “RCM” talk really about pushing through the Strategic Investment Fund tax?

 

Answer from Provost Pam Benoit: I have heard several variations of this rumor, all of which ultimately boil down to a single question about our budget model change: Why?

The impetus to change UAB’s budget model came from the UAB community during a series of conversations dating back to 2013. Huron Consulting was engaged to interview institutional stakeholders on the subject of UAB’s historic budgeting process. Those interviews found that the process was perceived as not transparent, “unfair” in its distribution of revenues and expenses to schools, and encouraging of duplication of services, among other criticisms.

Experiences at other institutions, including my former institution, Ohio University, have found that RCM-type models can successfully address these concerns. What’s more, they bring other benefits, including a clear system of incentives for entrepreneurial, forward-looking decisions.

Regardless of the type of budget model in use at UAB, our institution is in need of an appropriately funded and managed Strategic Investment Fund. The Education Advisory Board, which reports on best practices in higher education, recommends that universities set aside 3 to 5 percent of revenue for strategic investments. What might these investments look like at UAB? Our faculty and staff have many new ideas. At recent listening sessions, conversations have covered the need to:

  • incentivize more and better interdisciplinary teaching and interdisciplinary research;
  • be more proactive in helping schools retain their field-shaping faculty;
  • improve our teaching and research facilities;
  • invest in IT infrastructure that gives our faculty a competitive edge; and
  • create more opportunities for “seed” investments in innovative and big ideas. 

Resources are needed to invest in those ideas that align with the overall strategic plan of the university. Failure to have these funds available when the need arises would be detrimental to the overall success of UAB.