Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Fall 12-2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Political Science


Given that numbers alone do not tell much of a story, this research project investigates Georgia Perimeter College’s budget process and the politics that is associated with it. This case study is an exploratory analysis. This type of methodology is ideal when a holistic, in‐depth investigation is needed. Also the method seeks to identify influences on performance. This exploratory analysis examines the comprehensive budgeting process of Georgia Perimeter College. It begins by compiling and organizing all data, and details where the budget process actually starts, who the players are in the budgeting process, and how funds are allocated. The analysis begins with the decisions the Governor and the Board of Regents make on the University System of Georgia’s budget and then filters to the factors that are linked with the budget that is set for Georgia Perimeter College, and then to the allocations that Georgia Perimeter College gives to each of its departments.

State higher education funding impacts both admission and value of one’s educational institutions and is therefore an issue of real social importance. The budgeting process for higher education is designed to provide adequate funding to meet the state’s educational goals as defined by policymakers. As a result, it should be flexible enough to respond to changing needs and the state’s evolving goals while still providing adequate and equal distribution of funds. State budgeting for higher education is a complex set of activities involving various competing interests and issues. It is difficult for any outsider to understand why the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia is more generous to particular public institutions and not to others. Likewise it is difficult to explain year‐to‐year or long‐term change within the University System of Georgia. This study aims to do just that.

The purpose of this research is to help taxpayers, students, parents, faculty, and staff to understand not only the budget process of Georgia Perimeter College, but also the politics of its budgetary system. A budgeting process can be more educational if everyone is introduced to the terms and concepts of financial management. The justification for priorities becomes clearer. This research encourages familiarity with college budgeting processes and procedures to others. As in all governmental budgetary decisions, politics plays a role in state budgeting for public higher education. There are multiple political forces acting upon the budgetary process that may influence public higher education appropriations each year such as the state officials’ wants and demands, College President’s needs, and taxpayers’ concerns. This study found that statewide circumstances ‐‐ as opposed to variables under a college’s control ‐‐ are the primary determinants of state spending. Research also discovered that the Board of Regents' budget allocation process is very political, but most of the politics occur between institutions and the BOR rather than with the general assembly or governor. For this reason, it is difficult for the governor or the General Assembly to institute real policy changes.