When the Office of the President began restructuring eighteen months ago, creating a unified budget office was a top priority. Previously, each large department had its own budget staff, and central coordination was handled by just three people, all of whom had limited authority.
“Before the creation of the new budget office, there wasn’t a comprehensive fiscal plan for the Office of the President,” said Mike Rancer, Director of UCOP Budget Office. “Our budget planning was not sufficient, and many departments were flying without a complete plan.”
Rancer, who previously served as Chief Administrative Officer for the Berkeley campus library system, was hired to lead the UCOP budget office in June 2008. Starting with no staff, he moved quickly to hire six positions. Once the staff was in place, they began piecing together financial records from within UCOP, and developing the comprehensive $500 million UCOP budget for 2009-10.
But it didn’t come easily. Once the six budget team members were in place — all of whom worked for UCOP before the restructuring — it took a full year to get complete financial control over the complex UCOP budget. During peak periods, staff worked six days a week, including nights and weekends.
“We inherited confusion from the previous budget process,“ said Rancer. “Our team has been very good at tracking the information to get the budget in shape.” From the time the budget was approved by the Regents in May of 2009, the budget office had just eight weeks to implement a detailed plan for each department.
Although the UCOP budget has now been centralized, Rancer and his staff are still busy working with UCOP departments to develop specific budget guidelines for each unit and explaining how the new process works. One such process is a simplified monthly reporting budget system for departmental managers that went live in August.
Rancer acknowledges that the reorganization of UCOP and its budget office has been stressful at times, but he believes it has been well worth it.
“Any time you do a re-org, compounded by severe budget cuts, it destabilizes a place for a while,” Rancer said. “The change can be painful. But it also gives people the opportunity to do things in a different way.”
The budget department still has big challenges ahead. Among them: Finding ways to permanently free up more than $20 million for UC systemwide reallocation, responding to additional state budget cuts, developing an electronic pre-approval process for travel, hiring and purchase requests, and acquiring an online budget development system that would allow the department to minimize manual work, so it can perform more analysis. All of this, while managing through the rough and tumble of the shaky economy.
Fortunately, the new budget team is up to the task. Not only do they like working collaboratively with the many stakeholders in UCOP, but they bring flexibility, strong analytical skills and a commitment to UC to their jobs.
Meet the UCOP Budget Office
Pictured Above: L-R: Mike Rancer, Dave Jensen, Susan Shinomoto, Frances Chinn, Angel Warren, Susan Ohye. Not pictured: Kristen Neal.
No. of employees: 7
Location: Franklin, 9th floor