The Florida Legislature
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Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability

Assessment of the State University System of Florida Accountability Plan , Report No. 12187, November 1993

  • The accountability process for the State University System was established by the Legislature in 1991. Florida's accountability legislation requires an evaluation of the performance of public universities to hold them more accountable for their use of public resources. The Board of Regents has produced an Accountability Report in 1992 to describe the progress towards achieving the goals of the Accountability Plan. This assessment evaluated the 1992 Accountability Report.
  • We determined that most of the concerns expressed in our 1991 assessment were not addressed in the Accountability Report, although some may be addressed in the Board of Regents' revised Accountability Plan and Report, due by January 1994.
  • In Florida, the concept of faculty contact hours is used to measure faculty productivity. The concept is based on the number of hours faculty spend in contact with students. Contact hours are defined by a formula developed by the Board of Regents. We found some variations in the calculation of contact hours, but these variations did not impact the majority of hours, which are generated through direct classroom instruction. The variations do, however, affect some comparisons among universities and decrease the utility of contact hours as a measure of faculty productivity.
  • The Accountability Plan's goal is that full-time faculty positions would, on average, produce 32 instructional contact hours for each university and for the university system. As a measure of faculty productivity, the goal is limited. Since the goal is an average, some individual faculty members produce more than the 32 contact hours while others produce less than 32 hours. In addition, the contact hour goal is derived from the expected efforts of full-time faculty members, but the efforts of graduate assistants, faculty adjuncts, guest lecturers, and others count towards accomplishing the goal. Finally, we believe the goal on faculty contact hours is limited by considering only contact hours produced through instruction. Faculty productivity should also be measured in non-instructional areas such as research, administration, and public service. We looked for additional measures of faculty productivity to determine the percentage of time faculty spent in teaching, research, public service, administration, and other activities. For the 1991 Fall term, the university system's full-time faculty spent most (63%) of their time in teaching and teaching related activities. Compared to the national survey data on faculty at similar universities, Florida's faculty spent more time in teaching activities, less time in research activities, and similar amounts of time in administrative activities.
  • We assessed the 1991 Accountability Plan goals to see how the Plan relates to other higher education planning efforts. We determined that some of the goals described steps to implement accountability rather than setting a bench mark for performance. We concluded that half of the goals were not measurable, and more than half were not time-oriented.
  • The use of accountability in state planning and budgeting activities may be limited by several factors. The 1991 Accountability Plan is restricted to the nine measures specified in statute, none of which address graduate education, university research, and public service. The format of the first accountability report (too comprehensive) may decrease its utility. Finally, the 1991 Accountability Plan and the State University System's comprehensive 5-year Master Plan are two distinct plans and are not yet integrated.

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