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reason to the implementation process since taking over the
planning committee a fewmonths ago.
However, every formal attempt to reduce the number of
indicators or make other substantive changes has been given
short shrift by Senator Setzler and other supporters of the
When a committee from the three research institutions
suggested that 15 of the indicators should be dropped as
largely irrelevant, they were rebuffed.
“Some people want to drop some measures,” Austin
Gilbert said. “But I tell them, ‘No, it’s like the knob on your
radio—if it’s not right, you adjust it but you don’t remove it
Setzler believes the implementation problems have been
When questions arose last year, “we sat everybody
around the table (and) we learned that there really wasn’t the
disagreement they thought there was, and everybody was on
the same song sheet,” Setzler said in
an interview. “Certainly, I think any
postponement of implementation
would be an effort to either dilute
or kill the legislation, and I certainly
would not support that.”
“I think we need to work with
this awhile before we make any
significant changes,” Dalton Floyd
said. “I don’t think the legislature
would look in a friendly way at any
major changes at this stage.”
Now that Setzler, Floyd and others are being invited to
talk about the South Carolina budget plan at national higher
education meetings, it will be even harder to make needed
changes, some campus officials fear.
Said one, “Senator Setzler is getting praise for this, and
now his ego is so big, he doesn’t want to hear about any
Gathering the massive
amount of data required
for the performance
review process has been
especially burdensome
for smaller campuses.
Interest in Performance-Based
Budgeting Has Faded
March 2008
en years after adopting a detailed performance-based
budgeting plan for higher education, South Carolina essentially
has abandoned the effort.
“We still collect performance-based data but we do not use it for
budgeting,” said Julie Carullo, director of government affairs for the
South Carolina Commission on Higher Education.
“The state has backed off from performance-based funding, in the
face of prodigious budget cuts,” said Debra Jackson, vice provost and
assistant to the president at Clemson, one of the state’s three research
The plan established
performance indicators for
South Carolina’s 33 public
campuses. (The original 37
indicators swelled to more
than 70.) Those that met or
exceeded the criteria were
to receive additional state
funding; those that failed to
meet the standards were to be
punished financially.
“Those institutions
receiving the highest scores
were to receive extra money,”
Jackson said, “but that never happened, there was no extra money.”
Instead, state appropriations for public higher education were reduced
by more than 25 percent from 2002 to 2005.
There were other problems with the performance-based funding
“You have to take money away from one school and give it to
another, something that is politically very difficult,” said one education
official. “How do you improve a low-performing school by cutting the
budget? How is that supposed
to work? You wind up with a
school that is worse off than
Thomas Higerd, associate
provost at the Medical
University of South Carolina,
said the state higher education
commission, which was
charged with implementing
the plan, took a “one size fits
all” approach.
“They treated all
institutions the same, from a
rural two-year school to the
medical university,” Higerd
said. “But we all had different
missions. They didn’t take
into account local situations.
Lumping us together didn’t make any sense.”
There were conflicts between the state higher education
commission, which implemented the plan, and administrators at
many of the state’s 33 public campuses.
“There was a considerable gap between the institutional culture of
academe and the values of government bureaucrats,” top officials of
Clemson, the University of South Carolina and the Medical University
of South Carolina wrote in a 2004 paper published by the National
Association of College and University Business Officers.
The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education still
collects performance data but no longer uses it to determine campus
budget recommendations. Although the commission’s publications
and website continue to say that performance funding is state policy,
there is little evidence that this is so.
A decade ago there was a flurry of interest in performance-based
budgeting around the country, but it has faded, experts say, because
the programs were underfunded, they were the first thing dropped
when budgets became tight, and they were poorly administered.
“The state has backed
off from performance-
based funding, in the
face of prodigious
budget cuts.”
—Debra Jackson,
vice provost at
Clemson University
There were conflicts
between the state
higher education
commission, which
implemented the
funding plan, and
administrators at
many of the state’s
33 public campuses.