Response to Howard Bunsis Report

Published March 10, 2020

While supporters describe the Bunsis report as “an independent financial analysis of the University at Buffalo,” this depiction is not accurate. Howard Bunsis is a paid consultant with a pre-conceived agenda.  The Bunsis report contains several flaws, inaccuracies and inconsistencies that misrepresent and misinterpret UB’s budget and budgeting process.  Readers of the report should be very skeptical of its findings.

1.    Best Budgeting and Accounting Practices

  • The University at Buffalo follows best practices in budgeting and financial planning pursuant to American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).
  • This best practice approach has been articulate in the university’s annual budget briefings to the Faculty Senate and in its Annual Operating Budget Report.

2.     Financial Transparency

  • The university absolutely recognizes the importance and value of financial transparency – and the value of campus discourse regarding the university’s financial vitality, how it ties resources to mission, and its future.  That is why university leadership fully engages the campus community in discussions regarding its financial condition.  
    • This includes presentations and discussions with the Faculty Senate, Faculty Senate Budget Priorities Committee, the Dean, Department Chairs.
  • The university also posts financial statements and other resource planning and budget documents on our website.
  • Regarding the UB Foundation, the SUNY audit of the University at Buffalo Foundation noted that “the information made available to the public by the Foundation was in most cases comparable to, or above and beyond what other campus-related foundations publicly disclose.” 

3.    Upper Administration Salaries

  • Bunsis’s claims that UB “spends a higher percentage of total salaries on administrative spending than any peer institution.” 
  • Erroneously, Mr. Bunsis equates “Institutional Support” with executive administrative salaries. 
  • Quite unfortunately, Mr. Bunsis devises his own definitions rather than simply stating the IPEDS definitions of each category. This pattern of devising his own definitions was evident with other accounting terminology. 
  • So, to be clear, “Institutional Support” is one of several Functional Categories of expenses that institutions under Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) reporting and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) are required to report.
  • The classifications are based on audited financial statements – that is, institutions have a fiduciary responsibility to report accurately on these categories. Definitions may be found at the National Center for Education Statistics website.
  • For your understanding, “Institutional Support” is defined by IPEDS as expenses for the day-to-day operational support of the institution. This includes:
    • Expenses for general administrative services,
    • central executive-level activities concerned with management and long range planning,
    • legal and fiscal operations,
    • space management,
    • employee personnel and records,
    • logistical services such as purchasing and printing, and public relations and development.
    • Information technology expenses related to institutional support activities.