Degree Name

Education Specialist (EdS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Robert C. Wiseman


Budgeting is a statement of the organizational goals and objectives in monetary terms. Traditionally, budgets have been developed by adding to the previous year's budget as a base (at least in theory), but rather to start from a zero base and requires a justification of all expenditures. This method of budgeting assumes that each years's budget requests are built up from zero in response to the priorities and needs of that year.

The range of opinion about zero-base budgeting is broad. Some critics regard it to be of great value while others feel that it is inadequate. The purpose of this study was to investigate the application of zero-base budgeting in the learning resource center.

Zero-base budgeting does not appear to be a budgeting system that can be used by learning resource centers. While the learning resource center's service is difficult to measure in economic terms, how can we implement zero-base budgeting which calls for annual review of all programs from a ground zero. For learning resource centers, the goal is not making money, but rather giving services. The termination of programs is not always possible in learning resource centers because of external regulations and pressures. Furthermore, zero-base budgeting requires a great deal of staff time and paper work.

In any budgetary process, one of the end-products of a learning resource center's budget will be an allocation of a great part of the budget to personnel related expenditures, in most cases up to 60 percent of the budget. The present distribution of personnel budget will play a major role in determining the future. This is so mostly for non-budgetary reasons. Federal or state regulations and human relationships are equally as meaningful as budget figures on paper. The amount allocated to subscriptions and binding represents 14 percent of the operating expenditures. This amount is a permanent commitment to the learning resource center and the administrators cannot make any significant change in this part of the budget. Furthermore, in practice, zero-base budgeting does not start at zero, but some fraction of last year's expenditures. The fraction can be set at 50 percent or somewhat higher or lower depending on the situation.

Administrators of learning resource centers have very few choices to modify or eliminate programs. As long as 75 percent of the budget (personnel related expenditures, subscriptions and binding) represent a permanent commitment to the learning resource center and the 25 percent remaining practically does not start at zero, there is no room for justification of an entire budget request. The most cogent criticism of zero-base budgeting is that it requires a great deal of effort and results in very little or no change in the learning resource centers.