Update From Brett

Where Does Your Paycheck Come From?

Getting paid at Emory is more complicated than you think!

How much do you really know about your paycheck? I'm not talking about the fact that it comes from PeopleSoft. Instead, as we head into budgeting season, I thought it might be interesting to learn more about the different types of money that pay for IT functions.

There are really about five different ways to get money.  Well, maybe there is really only one. I tell my kids all the time that money comes from one and only one place and that is work. It doesn't come from grandparents, game shows, or the government. It doesn't come from lotteries, life insurance, or inheritance. Ultimately, the only money people have is earned (by someone) through their hard work. If we get a gift, we should be grateful for someone else's hard work. And when we work, we should give gifts to others. But, I digress.

At Emory, there are five ways to fund our work. One is to get a grant. Over half of Marc Overcash's (R-WIT) group is funded by grants. Many of our faculty live and die by their ability to win grants. For those who live this way, when the grant money goes, very often your job goes with it.  For this reason, being funded through grant dollars is also known as being "soft funded." UTS, for the most part, does not have much in the way of grants.

A second form of uncertain funding is known as "bridge funding." If the idea of a bridge is to get you from here to there, then I suppose "bridge" funding is to get a job from a state of not being funded at all to a state of permanent funding. Bridge funding is often paid for with dollars that get left over, either by unspent training money, project surpluses, or most commonly the money that comes from not paying a salary in the time between someone quitting and rehiring their replacement.

The bridge can be funded by UTS, by our customers, or by special request to Ways and Means. In a bridge-funded position, the manager is taking a chance that permanent funding will show up before the bridge evaporates, just as the employee takes a chance by accepting a position without permanent funding. UTS does have a few bridge funded positions at any given point in time, currently in Dana Haggas' (Enterprise Applications) team.

A third type of funding, also comparatively rare but still in evidence, is direct payment. In this mechanism, the salary for a person is not in the UTS budget at all, but instead resides permanently in somebody else's budget. In the case of UTS, this happens almost exclusively with Healthcare, which pays directly for a few members of the Storage Team as well as various people in the TOC.

The fourth form of funding and one which accounts for just over half of all UTS salary dollars is called a "recharge." One of the more stable funding methods, recharge services are those which customers pay for but have the option to cancel at any time. The largest examples are certainly our data ports and telephone services. However, in the tight budget times of the last four years, more and more recharge services have sprung up. We now offer quite a bit of storage via recharge as well as system administration services, desktop support, and most recently audio-visual and classroom support in Barb Brandt's (Academic Technology Services) team. R-WIT offers custom application development and website creation as recharge services.

The fifth type of funding is simultaneously the most stable and the most hard to win. It is known as "the allocation." The allocation is really just a tax on the income producing units at Emory, such as Healthcare and the schools (Business, Law, etc). Those taxes are used to pay for UTS, Campus Services, HR, Finance, the Provosts' Office and others because those groups do not have a way to bring in money from the outside world on their own. Allocated costs are not voluntary. No person and no unit at Emory can opt out of having a financial system like Compass. Nor can they opt out of paying for HR, a police department, or Cox Hall.

Accordingly, many of these functions, such as Kim Braxton's (Academic Technology Services) team, are paid for through the allocation. Many of the most contentious decisions at the "director and up" level are about financial matters that have to be paid for through an allocation and they are contentious precisely because they are not optional. UTS has lots of people paid for by this hard-won money, including teams working on Blackboard, R25, ECIT, part of the Service Desk, part of the TOC, OPUS, many managers and directors, and more.

Why the complexity? Soft funding is a managerial technique that lets you have more people on hand than you really have budget for. Direct transfer exists because of the desire to control budgets or to use budgets to ensure a say in the work that gets done. But the split between recharge and allocation is an interesting one. Each has its own advantages and its own headaches so over the long arc of time, a decade or more, institutional preference for different payment mechanisms tends to swing back and forth.

What we can't do with recharge and allocation, though, is commingle the funds. Because of accounting guidelines designed to ensure both internal fairness and fairness in the use of government-provided grant dollars, any money used to pay for a recharge service cannot be used for other purposes.

The implication, then, is that we are always trying to figure out which accounts to use, how to spend or find the right type of money, and how to be fair to customers in charging for our services. As OIT goes into our budget hearings in February, we will have a number of requests to make bridge funding permanent, requests to alter or keep existing recharge rate structures, and for allocation increases. These will fund our training, any raises we may earn in 2013, the added cost of hardware and software maintenance increases, and yes, even some new positions. We'll find out how we did in about May, so look for an update then.

Until that time, welcome back and Happy New Year.

- Brett Coryell, Deputy CIO, UTS