10.20 Software Purchases
Each year questions arise about whether IT or the school or other unit is responsible for funding given types of software. In principle there has been a fairly consistent understanding:
- IT is responsible for funding standard software needed for instruction, administration, and general faculty research.
- Schools and administrative units are responsible for funding software more or less distinctive to the needs of a given function or individual.
In practice, the principle does not always work so well, because of differing interpretations of what should be considered standard, etc., and because institutional budgeting has seldom addressed unique needs. Indeed, such needs may not be known when budgets are being developed.
The issue is not so much who pays, but rather how should we go about identifying the needs, where we should budget funds available for meeting the needs, and how we can ensure orderly and timely processing of purchase requests.
The following process is intended to address those questions.
1. Schools and other units should identify any unique needs early in the spring semester--to the extent possible.
2. These should be shared with IT so that we do not unduly duplicate requests during budget preparation. Such requests should include only significant expenses, not minor purchases that could be covered out of regularly budgeted M&O.
3. Insofar as possible, the needs should be prioritized, or at least the urgency of any given need should be made clear.
4. As agreed upon, either IT or the school/unit should carry the request to the budget hearings.
5. A modest contingency for instructional and research software is budgeted in the Provost's office, since it is impossible to know what the needs of incoming new faculty members may be. If a portion of the contingency should remain unspent, it lapses and becomes part of funds available for the next year.