College of DuPage, IL: Budget-in-Brief
Best Practice on Making the Budget Document Easier to Understand
In an effort to increase financial transparency and trust, College of DuPage’s Budget Office sought to produce a high-level, stand-alone version of its FY2018 Budget Book, which could be easily understood by individuals regardless of their financial background or expertise. As a result, the College created its first budget-in-brief (BIB). The 12 page BIB is intended to support the College’s annual budget as the College’s Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR) does to support the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).
The College’s strategic long-range plan included a goal to “Ensure compliant and transparent processes that will promote stakeholder confidence and trust.” College leaders saw the BIB as a significant step toward achieving that goal. The BIB communicates with stakeholders in a manner that the College’s more voluminous and complex formal annual budget cannot. Although College of DuPage has published a budget document each year since its inception in 1967, for many stakeholders, the BIB was the first budget document that could be easily understood. Not only has the institution received significant praise from its governing board as well as its community, the publication of the BIB has also increased trust amongst the College’s internal constituency groups, leading to a more productive annual budget development process.
GFOA recommends that governments incorporate the following guidelines to facilitate broader consumption and greater comprehension of the budget document:
• Organization. Improving the organization of a budget document lessens redundancy and allows for a better flow of information through a logical sequence
• Detail. Excessive detail can be a hindrance to understanding the budget document - limit the number of financial schedules, text, and supplemental data to what is necessary to convey key information
• Design. The design of the budget document should be simple and easy to use
• Consistency. Make sure that information is presented in a consistent manner
• Highlights. A budget-in-brief can be presented as an internal or external feature that highlights major points from the budget document
The purpose of the Budget-in-Brief is to provide basic financial information on the College’s budget in a reader-friendly manner. Click here to see the whole document. The complete FY2018 Budget Document can be found on the website.