Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is SPARA?
In the 2012-2017 update to the UWF Strategic Plan, the University reaffirmed its commitment to “accounting for its effectiveness through the integration and alignment of transparent planning, budgeting, assessment, and accountability processes to support continuous improvement and the strategic and prudent use of resources.” SPARA is the UWF Strategic Planning and Resource Alignment process designed to achieve that integration and alignment. To support and advance the mission, vision, values, and strategic priorities of the University, UWF will invest funds that address core needs as well as new initiatives and projects.
Who can submit a SPARA Proposal Form?
Any UWF staff member may submit a proposal; however, in general, it is expected that personnel in a unit will work together to compile and complete SPARA proposals. A unit must e-mail all completed SPARA Proposal Forms and accompanying documentation from that unit to SPARA@uwf.edu at the same time the unit submits proposals to its respective division for divisional review. All SPARA proposals will receive consideration at every stage of the institutional process.
How does the SPARA process work?
Each SPARA proposal will flow through a divisional review process (including any sub-processes deemed appropriate for a particular division—e.g., departmental or college process), a review by a select SPARA Team charged with assessing how well each proposal aligns with UWF’s strategic priorities, and a review by the appropriate divisional vice president(s) before the proposal is submitted to the President for consideration. Even though the requests will flow through individual divisions, cross-divisional requests will be encouraged. Any cross-divisional proposal will need to be submitted and reviewed through all divisions involved in the proposal.
How do I know when and how to submit a SPARA Proposal Form?
UWF has not prescribed how proposals flow through the divisional review process except that each process should have the characteristics heard in our campus listening sessions:
-Completeness of all components of the process
-Completeness of shared information
Each division has provided a written description of its respective divisional SPARA process. These processes have been developed to assess the level of need, alignment with strategic priorities, and the level of criticality for every proposal emanating from a division. Developers of proposals should be sure to review the process for their respective division, because the processes vary and in some cases may include sub-processes when appropriate.
Why is SPARA important?
UWF is seeking to develop a more inclusive, data-driven, and strategic budget process. We want to use our “strategic plan to drive the budget and support institutional priorities.” The SPARA process focuses on furthering UWF’s mission, vision, values, and strategic priorities. It is also consistent with the SACS Commission’s expectation that the University’s planning and evaluation process inform budgeting decisions. It is one more very visible way that we are making UWF “Different by Design.”
What type of funds can be requested?
In general, SPARA proposals can be for recurring and/or non-recurring Education and General (E&G) funds. Although a proposal may reference a multi-year plan for context, each proposal should be presented without any expectation of a commitment for additional recurring and/or non-recurring funding in future years.
Do I have to use the official SPARA Proposal Form, or can I use an alternative document?
All individuals, units, and divisions must use the institutional SPARA Investment Proposal Form to ensure that we have some consistency in the type of information provided. However, divisions may incorporate supplemental forms, spreadsheets, rubrics, etc. The ASPIRE Office has developed an institutional repository to house all documentation related to the SPARA requests as the proposals flow through the entire review process. Please note that all supplemental documents for each stage of the process are to be compiled into single PDF documents to accompany the official SPARA Proposal form.
What is the timeline for the SPARA process?
The timeline for the 2013 SPARA process is as follows:
February 15, 20-13 (earlier preferred): Description of divisional processes due. [These will be posted to the SPARA website.]
January 7, 2013– March 15, 2013: Divisional review processes completed. All SPARA Proposal Forms, related documentation, and divisional review -ratings must be submitted to the ASPIRE Office via SPARA@uwf.edu.
March 15, 2013 – April 15, 2013: SPARA Team and divisional VP review processes completed. Related documentation and review ratings are due to the ASPIRE Office via SPARA@uwf.edu.
April 15, 2013 – May 15, 2013: Presidential review process completed.
June 13, 2013: Presentation to the Board of Trustees and posting of the complete process available on the SPARA website.
June 18-20, 2013: Board of Governors meeting to review budget proposals.
Who do I talk to if I have a question or suggestion related to the SPARA process?
With this being the first year of full implementation, we are likely to discover ways to improve the SPARA process for future years. We hope you will help us by providing feedback and suggestions along the way. Similarly, if you have suggestions for additional frequently asked questions, please submit them to the ASPIRE Office via email to SPARA@uwf.edu, and ASPIRE staff will facilitate the gathering and posting of appropriate answers.
How much money is available for the FY13-14 SPARA process?
It is difficult to determine in advance of the Legislative session how much funding may be available for allocation. The Legislature may add to or take away from UWF’s base appropriations. This estimate is further complicated by the approval process for tuition increases that could have an impact on the level of available funding. Finally, estimates in growth in enrollment generally become increasingly clear closer to the end of the spring term. Individuals and units trying to determine the cost benefit of investing time and effort into submitting a SPARA proposal form should know that new investment funds over the past few years have been very limited and requests for highly aligned strategic priorities typically exceeded available dollars.