Budget Process for Managers

Budget Process for Managers


A budget is a plan for how resources will be used.


A strategy is a plan for achieving specific goals.

Budget Process Overview

  • The budget process is a continuous cycle of actions throughout the year
  • The cycle is based on UC Berkeley’s fiscal year, which starts on July 1 and ends on June 30
  • Budgeting is a process that happens all year long at the campus, division, and department levels
    • It is essential to the financial stability of the campus that all three are aligned and integrated
  • We encourage you to reach out to your DFL to ask how you can become engaged in your division's strategic planning and budget process

Key roles in the Budget Process


You, as a manager, develop your department budget.


Each division has a Divisional Financial Leader (or DFL), who assists you throughout the process and consolidates department budgets into one cohesive division budget.

Deans and Vice Chancellors

The DFL partners with your Dean or Vice Chancellor (or VC) to submit the division budget to campus leadership.

Central Budget Office

At the campus level, the Central Budget Office manages the campus budget process and works closely with the Chancellor and Provost to make final budget decisions.

Budget Process Phases and Details

The budget process is a continuous cycle of actions throughout the year.

The phases of the budget process illustrated as a continuous cycle

Strategic Planning (December to January)

A successful budget is driven by a clear strategy.

A strategic plan outlines your department’s objective, goals, strategies, and plans.

In order to decide how you will distribute your resources, you first need to understand the priorities you are supporting.

Drafting a Department Strategic Plan

  • Understand your department, division, and campus priorities
  • Establish your goals, the actions needed to support these goals, and the resources required
  • Assess your department's resource availability
    • Your team’s capacity
    • The time you have
    • The money you are able to spend on compensation, benefits, and non-personnel expenses
  • Compare what resources are available and what are still needed to achieve your goals

Budget Call Letter

Each winter, you are prompted to revise your department budget when the Provost releases a Campus Budget Call Letter and your Dean or VC releases a Division Budget Call Letter. The Call Letters include the campus and division priorities for the next fiscal year, changes to the budget process, and key dates.

Budget Preparation (February to March)

Budget preparation is when you partner with your DFL to translate your draft strategic plan into a budget plan.

What to Discuss and Document

  • strategies, plans, issues, and opportunities
  • revenues and expenses
  • resource allocations
  • key trade-offs and decisions
  • new funding requests
  • success metrics

Department Budget Narrative

The end result of this phase is your department budget narrative.

Divisional Budget Submission (April)


The Division Budget Submission is when your DFL enters your budget plan into the campus’ budget tool, CalPlanning, and develops the division budget.

Your DFL will then discuss the department and division budgets with your Dean or VC, who may make adjustments to your budget to ensure you are allocating resources to the highest priorities.

Division Budget Narrative

The end result of this phase is a completed division budget narrative, which your leaders submit to the Campus Budget Office, the Chancellor, and the Provost for consideration in the annual campus budget hearings.

Budget Finalization (May to June)

Budget Hearings

Budgets are finalized through a series of Budget Hearings with senior division and campus leaders discussing the key elements of each division's narrative - strategies and plans, resource allocations, key decisions, and new funding requests.

Allocation Letters

After all the hearings, the Provost and Chancellor make final decisions about funding allocations for each division and share their decisions in formal allocation letters to your Dean or VC.

Reprioritize your Strategic Plan

After receiving the allocation letter, your division’s senior leaders will partner with you and your DFL to reprioritize your strategic plan and budget as needed based on final allocation decisions.

You are responsible for communicating with your staff to ensure they thoroughly understand final decisions, next year's work priorities, how each person contributes to the goals, and how you will monitor progress.

Completed Budget and Strategic Plan

The end result of this phase is a completed budget and completed strategic plan.

Evaluate Results and Adjust Forecast (July to November)

Rather than implementing a static budget process, UC Berkeley uses a "living process" focused on continuous improvement.

Throughout the Year

  • Meet regularly with your DFL
  • Monitor your department's spending and performance toward your goals
  • Make adjustments to your work priorities and resource allocations to stay on track

Your DFL also meets regularly with the Campus Budget Office to ensure your division is aligned with campus priorities and best practices.