Departmental responsibilities for budgetary planning and control
The amount of input required from a Department for Chest budgetary planning and control can vary by School/institution and whether the budget is devolved fully. It is important that Departments understand what they have responsibility for within their Chest budgets - if in doubt contact your Finance Manager. Traditionally all non-pay Chest budgets are fully devolved - all institutions are responsible for controlling this activity within budget.
Where a bottom up approach to planning is adopted, departments will be more involved in the planning process. Areas where the detailed knowledge of Department Administrators will add value to the planning exercise include:
- Checking the accuracy of information on Chest-funded posts including ratifying any year on year changes. Budgets are built up on a post by post basis and it is crucial that this information is correct.
- Communicating the department's plan for any changes in staff profile.
- Communicating the department's plan for making any required savings.
- Communicating changes in student numbers, new courses being introduced, premium fees etc. that could impact on the RAM income of the department.
- Input to the research forecasts. By providing valuable insights into trends in volume growth; impact of large grants ending and replacement funding applied for; and/ or changes in sponsor mix and hence, the forecast of overhead/ non direct cost recovery, which again impacts on Chest income to the department.
All Departments have a responsibility for budgetary planning and control over non-Chest areas of activity, no matter how large or small that activity is. This includes reviewing resources as a whole and, when needed, identifying areas generating surpluses that can support/subsidise areas in deficit.
Dependent on the level of devolvement to Institution level, the RMC and/or School office may need to approve the filling of Chest funded posts and use of temporary staff where vacancies exist. Hence, departments may not perceive themselves as responsible for over spends on Chest stipends and wages except in as much as these relate to the expenditure on outside lecturers and on overtime. It is likely therefore that overspends on stipends and wages will be followed up by Finance Advisers/Managers.
Department Administrators are responsible for ensuring that the Chest non-pay budget is not exceeded. Monitoring should be done on a monthly basis and deficits should not be allowed to accumulate all year before being cleared at year end as this creates problems at University level when forecasting the likely year end position. Other Chest budgets that should be monitored may include unpaid leave of absence, vacation study grants, the annual equipment grant and non-recurrent grants.
For research grants and contracts, it is likely that individual PIs will be responsible for monitoring expenditure on their grants but the Department Administrator or Accounts section may then be responsible for sending the PIs the appropriate reports.