UC Budget Central

Budget Primer

How are decisions made at Berkeley?

Stakeholder input

Because Berkeley is a public institution, the chancellor ensures that many groups are involved in budgetary decision-making. In a typical year, the chancellor starts the budget process in the fall, reviewing the regents' November budget proposal to the state and launching the campus budget cycle for the following fiscal year. In January, after the governor comes out with a state budget proposal, the chancellor begins consulting more broadly, through conversations with the Cabinet, Council of Deans, Chancellor's Executive Advisory Committee, and representatives of the Academic Senate. Finally, the chancellor sends out a budgetary call letter to the vice chancellors in late January.

The budget call letter typically asks vice chancellors to provide basic budget information about their respective areas, discuss plans for repayment of deficits or loans, indicate funding needs for the coming year, and if needed, propose strategies for budgetary reduction. Vice chancellors generally prepare budget plans after consulting within their own respective areas by sending unit-specific budget calls and conducting budget hearings with their own direct reports.

Like the State of California budget process, Berkeley's budget process is incremental, and vice chancellors are only asked to submit budget plans for increases and decreases to their existing budget bases. However, the Chancellor does take into account all available resources, including base budgets, when he determines the final budget adjustments.

The chancellor receives the budget plans in April of each year, and begins further consultation, sharing the information with the members of the Cabinet, conducting budget hearings with each vice chancellor, and soliciting input from groups such as the Academic Senate, the Committee on Student Services and Fees, the Campus Technology Council, and the Office of Budget and Resource Planning. The chancellor then makes specific budget allocation or reduction decisions and communicates those decisions to the vice chancellors in June.


For the Berkeley campus, decision-making occurs at multiple levels, depending upon the fund source involved.

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE Determines the overall University of California allocation, in consultation with the governor
UC REGENTS Approve the University of California budget request to the state legislature, final budget allocations to the campuses, and student-fee levels
UC OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT Allocates funds to campuses
CHANCELLOR Allocates funds to vice chancellors
VICE CHANCELLORS Apportion block grants to deans and directors, and temporary teaching budget supplements; determine allocation within the control-unit budgets
DEANS, DIRECTORS Manage allocations of funds to programs and activities
FACULTY Perform academic personnel functions including hiring and promotion to tenure, and conduct teaching and research activities.

Budget principles

Though the chancellor receives input from many stakeholders, the Chancellor's Cabinet is a key advisory body regarding financial matters. The Cabinet consists of senior campus administrative leaders including all the vice chancellors and vice provosts, and helps the chancellor develop the budget for the campus. In 2008, the Chancellor's Cabinet adopted the following set of working budget principles to help guide ongoing campus budgetary decision-making.

Campus leaders will:

  • Examine the entire portfolio of available campus resources and all existing programs and activities to appropriately consider trade-offs when determining what to support and what not to support.
  • Support comprehensive budget decisions, ensuring that upfront investments and ongoing costs are considered and addressed for all new and existing initiatives.
  • Ensure sufficient ongoing funding is available to support "common good" priorities.
  • Promote an increase in the overall availability of funding through activities such as expanded philanthropy, effective balance-sheet management, and the development of new resources.
  • Cultivate a culture of trust and accountability on the campus through consistent transparency in decision-making, policy development, and communications.
  • Support effective fiscal and risk management through ongoing improvements to financial policies and practices.
  • Increase financial flexibility that promotes fungibility of funding sources.
  • Strive to provide more easily accessible, reliable, consistent, and secure institutional data to support sound activity-based budgeting and long-term forecasting.
  • Support strategic budgetary decision-making and accountability at as local a level as possible to promote effective stewardship of resources.
  • Encourage organizational structures that enhance intellectual synergy and/or reduce administrative redundancy.
These budget principles have been invaluable to campus leaders as they have worked to address the recent budget crisis.