| Eagle University |
To: | Chair of the Budget Committee |
From: | Nicholas Vaccarella |
Date: | June 3, 2014 |
Re: | Library Donations Department Budget Increase Request |
Background and Key Indicators
The University Library has approached the Budget Committee with a request for a $5,000 departmental budget increase for the procurement of part-time students to assist with the intake and processing of book donations. This memo is being written in response to the Committee’s denial of these funds in general and the rationale for that denial more specifically. The reasoning behind our request has already been laid out by our head librarian, Asenath James, but we ...view middle of the document...
First, the graduate assistant assigned to donations is currently devoting the maximum amount of time he can to processing newly received items. This has caused the library to have trouble accepting all books and periodicals which are offered to it. An extension of the first problem is that under the current arrangement Ms. James must devote an increasingly significant amount of time to the processing of donations. As an accomplished academic and the face of our institution’s library, her time would be more effectively spent soliciting donations rather than processing them. Finally, the situation has resulted in a failure to process donations in a timely manner which has produced a backlog; particularly in the summer months.
Analysis and Solution Options
Now that there is a clearer understanding of the issues facing our library, we turn to your assertions that 1) The unit cost of processing donated books is currently $18.90, 2) If the library were to take in 2,000 books expenses would be $37,800, and 3) If the donations department were eliminated entirely the university would save “at the very least” $23,900 per year. Once these inaccuracies have been addressed we will review a number of solution alternatives.
Before addressing the above assertions it is important to lay the framework for our analysis by identifying an activity base for the book donations department and also the department’s cost driver. In this case, the activity base – or measure of what causes the incurrence of a variable cost – is books donated and added to the library’s collection. The department’s cost driver – or factor that causes overhead costs – is not as clear. This is due to the fact that all departmental expenses are either fixed, indirect, and/or committed except for the RFID tags (see Appendix A for table and definitions). Essentially, Ms. James’ salary, the graduate assistant’s stipend, and the facility cost would all be incurred regardless of whether or not book donations were accepted. The cost driver which necessitates overhead, in this case, is more appropriately defined as the library’s operating hours and not the number of donated books.
Considering the distinction between the activity base and its cost driver is crucial when performing a cost analysis. While the current unit cost of processing a book may appear to be $18.90, it is actually substantially lower. First, the facility cost allocated to the donations department is misplaced. This is a fixed, committed, indirect expense that would be incurred even if the department ceased operations. Likewise, Ms. James’ salary is fixed, committed, and indirect. While it is noted that she spends approximately one quarter of her salaried time working on donations, the expense would not disappear should the department close. If this occurred, she would simply allocate that time and effort to other library functions.
While a case could be made that the graduate assistant stipend is directly linked to the...