American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is a professional body that is exempted from taxation. ASCE was founded in 1852. It provides “essential values to members of the civil engineering profession globally” (American Society of Civil Engineers 1). The professional body has over 140,000 members.
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It is also “the oldest national engineering society in the US” (American Society of Civil Engineers 1). ASCE’s mission is to “provide essential value to its members and partners, advance civil engineering, and serve the public good” (American Society of Civil Engineers 1). ASCE relies on several strategies to fulfill its mission to stakeholders.
These include the promotion of “professionalism and the engineering professions, usages of advanced technology, development of leadership in civil engineering, emphasize continuous learning, and encourage infrastructure and environmental stewardship” (American Society of Civil Engineers 1).
The major areas of focus for ASCE are many. These include the design and development of bridges, airports, dams, interstate highway systems, skyscrapers, and railways transportation. Also, ASCE also provides services related to wastewater treatment, sanitary landfills, solid waste management, water supply, transportation, and distribution.
The institution also has a large library of various publications in the field of civil engineering. These include books, journals, and magazines with different information about technical aspects of civil engineering. ASCE also runs some institutions for professional developments among its members.
ASCE also has sponsorship programs for spectacular works in civil engineering. Moreover, the institution has identified certain landmark constructions to serve as wonders of the civil engineering profession.
ASCE uses a strategy management process under its Board of Directors, who gets assistance from the Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) to identify and plan its operations (American Society of Civil Engineers 1-7). The process of planning involves the following stage. First, ASCE normally studies its environment to identify strategic issues.
The aim is to note important factors and trends, which could have significant impacts on the profession, engineers, and ASCE. These are factors, which the institution needs to tackle to serve its stakeholders effectively in a diverse environment.
Second, ASCE applies a ‘radar screen’ as a way of sorting out the most pressing issues in the civil engineering profession. These issues must be “within the ASCE mission, must have the greatest impact on the profession and the institution, and ASCE must have abilities to deliver them effectively” (American Society of Civil Engineers 1).
The radar screen links ASCE with the issues at the grass root, as well as a way of providing feedback to stakeholders. ASCE categorizes issues within the radar screen based on high-priority issues, which are under its mandate and funding and issues that the society concentrates on but ASCE has no significant role to play in their strategic management. These issues are critical, and ASCE needs time to study and understand their impacts.
Third, the ASCE Board prioritizes important issues and determines the desired goals and potential outcomes. This is an open process in which the Board invites all stakeholders to make their contributions. Invited people must identify priorities and note the relative importance of all issues.
However, the ASCE Board and the SPC have the ultimate role in determining priorities. This role is critical because ASCE requires significant funds, volunteers, and employees to fulfill such obligations. Given the number of resources required to fulfill these roles, the institution can only work on a limited number of issues at any one time. After setting the priorities, the ASCE Board must decide on what it intends to achieve by focusing on the selected issues. The SPC must assist in this process.
Fourth, all stakeholders develop action plans to achieve the preferred outcomes. These stakeholders include various committees, local bodies, institutions, and ASCE employees. The SPC engages all key stakeholders to consolidate different aspects within the strategy. The organization must identify the most suitable entity for a specific task to deliver the desired outcomes. At this point, stakeholders produce their action points for their projects.
This provides an overview of the way ahead. All action points must reflect key issues of a project for ease of reference. The Board must provide the project guiding principles and identify all potential pitfalls that stakeholders must avoid during their project execution. These may include policies and financial issues for the project.
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Fifth, the Board reviews the strategy proposal and pitches it for the annual budget. During the budget process, “the SPC, the Program Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Board consider the overall strategies (presented as strategy sketches) and their viability and affordability and then allocate funds” (American Society of Civil Engineers 2).
Thus, any shortage in funds may affect the intended project, and the Board must look for other sources of funds to execute the project. After this process, ASCE’s Board hands over all management strategies to the identified stakeholder to run the project.
Finally, the Board must address the project progress during its meetings. It also addresses “the strategic environment, the radar screen, and the needed mix of strategies” (American Society of Civil Engineers 2). The Board also conducts its agenda under two core issues, which include management oversight and leadership of the project and its strategic issues. It must also address matters related to:
strategy management, such as scanning the environment for strategic issues, seeking to understand a strategic issue better, determining or refining desired outcomes, setting policy, overseeing a strategy’s action plan, and determining which new strategies might be launched and which existing ones are ready for “graduation” to a standard, ongoing effort that is no longer part of Board and SPC strategy management” (American Society of Civil Engineers 2).
This is an effective approach to planning in a large organization. It ensures that the process accounts for the needs of all stakeholders based on their contributions. ASCE also notes available resources and potential challenges its project may face during implementation. Regular meetings ensure that ASCE’s Board updates and informs all stakeholders about the project progress, strategies, and future directions, including leadership issues.
Budget Systems and Programming
ASCE relies on strategic budgeting and programming to fund its projects. It has a marked part of the budget for addressing and funding issues that the Board considers as priority strategies. These issues fall under the main elements within the ASCE Report Card, which include water and the environment, transportation, public transportation, and energy.
Under the priority of strategies, these projects usually get special consideration and importance during budget preparation in the overall fund allocations.
ASCE’s Board normally conducts a strategic assessment of all issues to determine priority strategies and their overall performance. The institution has an Annual Report Card to show performances of all areas. They normally evaluate available funds against the required funds to achieve the desired outcomes after the implementation of the strategies.
Strategic budgeting is critical for ASCE because it focuses on other issues like policies, liability exposures, fiscal threats for the strategies, and possibilities of successful completion.
From the strategic budgeting and programming, one can note that budgeting forms a crucial role of the ASCE Board. Budget systems and programs provide methods of expense and management controls for the institution. Also, they provide an effective method of planning priority strategies and service delivery under various programs.
The strategic budget systems and programs eliminate challenges that ASCE may experience during budget preparation and priority strategies. The strategic budget system reduces the amount of time and resources that the Board spends in preparing and finalizing priority strategies and fund allocations. The approach provides a snapshot of the annual budget focus. It ensures that the Board follows the budget documents concerning available resources and potential benefits for the profession, stakeholders, and ASCE.
At the same time, strategic budget system and programs allow the Board to understand and choose among competing for priority strategies for additional funds. The Board can eliminate difficulties associated with aligning of its goals and strategies and including all stakeholders’ priorities. This happens during the strategic planning process in which all stakeholders must provide their opinions about the scanned priorities. Thus, inputs from various stakeholders are significant for the budget planning process of ASCE.
Strategic budget systems and programs are ways of reforming budget approaches among tax exempted institutions. Strategic budgeting systems and programming are seamless approaches that include ASCE strategic priority planning, budgets, potential challenges and performance measure, and issue evaluation.
Figure 2: Strategic budget system and programming
ASCE’s Board uses the strategic budgeting system to control decisions on resource allocation based on priority strategies, goals, and potential desired outcomes. Given the nature of the strategic budgeting system and program, the Board must define its priority strategies and objectives.
It must also provide the annual projections of all priorities that may require several years to complete. The process allows the Board to enact an effective communication system with all stakeholders during regular meetings for the project reviews and progresses.
The Board can also account for potential difficulties with funds and account for non-financial issues like future leadership of the project. Finally, strategic budgeting systems and programming have allowed ASCE’s Board to implement an effective performance measure of the project based on the progress and the desired outcomes.
The major strength of strategic budgeting systems and programming are the strategic planning processes, which offer the overall context and the projects, which all stakeholders and the Board consider as priorities for the budgeting decisions. Thus, the strategic budget system protects the interests of all stakeholders by ensuring balanced implementation of important projects.
The strategic budgeting system deviates from the traditional approaches to budgeting. It is critical for an organization to make gradual changes to strategic budgeting to implement it effectively. ASCE has noted that it must plan all aspects of the budget by identifying priority strategies, evaluating the project proposal, defining the desired outcomes and indicators, and identifying the main body to implement the project.
Also, it also provides effective communication strategies for all stakeholders, assesses internal factors and available financial resources and employees for the project. The Board has also noted that various projects require different strategic budgeting systems. Thus, it must evaluate all projects based on the importance and desired outcomes for all stakeholders. Strategic budgeting and programming have served as effective tools for meeting diverse needs and circumstances within ASCE.
ASCE has an annual budget process. The Board must review the entire strategies, which are in the form of strategy sketches. It must determine the viability and affordability of the project. After this process, the Board must allocate funds to the projects.
However, if ASCE has fixed, then it may need to “liberate funds from existing programs or from reserves to fund new or expanded actions” (American Society of Civil Engineers 2). After allocation of funds and other resources, the Board then hands overall project management aspects to the noted team, which will ensure the project execution.
ASCE also has an operating budget. This is the budget, which the institution uses to fund all its ongoing projects and other administrative responsibilities.
At ASCE, the main bodies responsible for strategic budgeting and programming include the Strategic Planning Committee, the Finance Committee, the Program Committee, and the Board. They are responsible for establishing the viability and affordability of a given project.
ASCE is a tax-exempt institution. Thus, it could face serious challenges that relate to the effective and efficient management of financial resources. Thus, budget execution has become a critical issue in the turbulent economy of the US.
The aim of effective budget execution is to assist ASCE to realize the project desired outcomes and fulfill its mission. Thus, the process requires established schedules, integrated cost management, and control and an appropriate method of estimating the required resources. This would ensure that ASCE has enough resources for specific projects within schedules.
ASCE has a yearly budgeting system, which has the Board’s consent and high-level of participation from the Strategic Planning Committee, the Finance committee, and the Program Committee. There are also regular meetings to assess the progress of the project.
The organization conducts both formal and informal reviews of the budget as ways of assessing the project progress against the established budget. This allows ASCE to identify potential financial difficulties during the project implementation. However, the current economic difficulties have forced the Finance Committee and another stakeholder to conduct continual forecast to identify potential gaps.
The most important elements of the budgeting cycle at ASCE are the sources of funds and expenses. The organization relies on various sources of revenues to drive its mission.
ASCE budget depends on factors like contributions from all members, campaigns, charged services, events, advertising, sales of publication, royalties, rental incomes, conferences and seminars, and other revenue generating activities.
ASCE must ensure that funds for the projects are available through proposals and effective management of available resources and budgeting system. Funds may come from members’ contributions, but these may not be adequate to support the massive infrastructures in various areas the organization has identified for improvement.
The organization incurs labor and other operating expenses. As a result, ASCE normally evaluates its goals, mission, and strategies against the available resources and the desired outcomes from an identified project. The major challenge has been matching all programs with expenses. A fall in expenses can increase service delivery for ASCE. This would allow the organization to determine key issues and make assumptions about issues efficiency in its budgets and cater to projects, which may face financial difficulties.
General and administrative expenses are the major expenses that ASCE incurs. The institution has based its expenses on the available funds. It is appropriate for ASCE to rely on its organizational chart to determine pay scales for its staff. However, it must evaluate potential issues like bonuses, incentives, pay scales, benefits, and union considerations when budgeting for general and administrative expenses.
ASCE has an effective mechanism of tracking all data for revenues and expenses. The institution must avoid possible integration challenges because of various modes of data inputs. Thus, integrating data between its systems could enhance efficient budgeting and programming systems.
Figure 3: ASCE Revenues and Operating Expenses FY 2012
While few regulations exist to guide how tax-exempt organizations can run their finances internally, there are several regulations with massive indirect impacts on their accounting systems. The major aims of accounting systems for ASCE are to meet IRS reporting requirements and the general accounting standards, which contributing members may require from the organization.
Accounting approaches must rely on all approved standards and other best financial procedures and practices within the tax-exempt organizations. In this context, ASCE follows nonprofit financial accounting systems, specifically concerning legal requirements.
Accounting plays a major role in regulating the financial reporting system of ASCE. ASCE must follow guidelines and categories for nonprofit organizations under revenues and expenses. Revenues and expenses are a major consideration for nonprofit organizations.
Hence, failure to follow the established standard can result in difficulties when preparing IRS reports. Hence, the IRS sets the required accounting standard for nonprofit organizations. Luckily, most of these accounting practices and procedures are general ones found in all revenues and expenses and balance sheets of all organizations.
ASCE has proper financial management in place to account for its accounting systems and fiduciary responsibilities of the Board of Directors. ASCE is a large organization that requires robust financial management systems. However, it seems that the organization relies on its internal staff to perform financial management.
The available records of ASCE are simple to follow. Thus, detecting any errors and other irregularities in the system could be easy. There are several committees and bodies, which are responsible for the strategic budgeting system within ASCE. These bodies ensure that ASCE has adequate measures to safeguard its assets and investments. Moreover, there are no existing serious mistakes from ASCE’s Board of Directors and bodies responsible for financial management.
The Strategic Planning Committee, the Finance Committee, the Program Committee, and ASCE’s Board have the fiduciary responsibilities of upholding trust and confidence among members and other stakeholders about financial management within the organization. Specifically, the directors have fulfilled their roles based on three main areas as required by the law.
First, the Board ensures that all its decisions are within its responsibilities and power. Second, the Board must fulfill their duties as expected, including efficient use of available resources for maximizing outcomes and ASCE’s mission. Finally, the Board must put the interest of ASCE first.
ASCE’s mandate is to provide services to the society, and not to generate maximum returns for stakeholders. Thus, the budget must account for other factors like the well-being of the society apart from the project desired outcomes and profitability.
In most cases, ASCE’s projects may have significant noneconomic factors, which may outweigh financial factors. Nevertheless, effective decision-making on financial management, project affordability and viability, and future of the organization requires the Financial Committee and other stakeholders account for all investments.
Financial Reporting and Auditing
The major role of the ASCE Finance Committee is to “examine and consider matters related to the financial control and auditing of the Institute” (American Society of Civil Engineers 1). The organization relies on internal audits to prepare the audited reports. ASCE must present transparent records of all its transactions for IRS reporting and other stakeholders. This ensures that the organization meets legal requirements under financial reporting and audit provisions.
Required Financial Reports
ASCE financial reporting system conforms to IRS reporting requirements. The institution must submit and publish its annual report, Form 990, and other necessary information. These require massive preparation. In short, ASCE must complete the following obligations. First, it must submit an instrument of revenue and income accounts with clearly categorized areas.
Second, it must provide a balance sheet with all the required fields. Third, ASCE must avail accounts of all its functional expenses and their related programs. Fourth, a report that expenses in specific programs. Finally, ASCE must submit a report with all its sources of funds with specific entities and contributors.
ASCE ties its performance management approach to specific desired outcomes in all priority strategies. The Board has the responsibilities of allowing the most qualified stakeholder to run a given project. The aim is to achieve the desired outcomes and maximize the use of available funds and resources.
ASCE conducts public hearings constituents of performance management. All stakeholders must give their opinions about a given project before its execution. The organization uses feedback for evaluating the project viability and affordability against available funds and staff.
The Board and other project stakeholders conduct regular meetings to evaluate project outcomes during various implementation phases. At this point, the Board emphasizes the importance of regular feedback and constant communication about the project. It measures such performance feedback against its mission and intended outcomes. Performance management at ASCE has been effective because of constant communication and reviews of progress.
ASCE has made a major improvement in areas of risk, susceptibility, and uncertainty management. During stakeholders’ meetings, they engage in the identification of potential risks and methods of mitigating them. They also share information about emerging trends of risks and vulnerability. This allows the organization to prepare adequately for such risks.
The organization has also noted that changes in technologies, discoveries, and exploit of resources exposure communities to new forms of risks. Thus, it aims to protect society too in its mitigating risk strategies. Also, ASCE has also noted that novelty of risks can pose serious challenges to decision-makers and committees on technical assistance and recommendations. ASCE’s Council on Disaster Risk Management is responsible for risk mitigation in the organization.
Management Control Decisions
ASCE relies on its Board of Directors, various committees, and the public to make control decision-making processes. The organization bases its decisions on the core mission and potential impacts of a given project on the profession and stakeholders. Generally, ASCE focuses on the design and development of bridges, airports, dams, interstate highway systems, skyscrapers, and railways transportation.
Moreover, ASCE also provides services related to wastewater treatment, sanitary landfills, solid waste management, water supply, transportation, and distribution. Moreover, the organization releases annual reports on performances based on grading systems to reflect its decisions on performances on infrastructure development.
ASCE’s Board and other committees conduct regular meetings (between three to four months) to formulate important decisions about projects and their desired outcomes. The feedback mechanism has been effective in improving other projects.
ASCE is the “oldest national engineering society in the United States” (American Society of Civil Engineers 1) and probably in the entire world. The organization has been in existence since 1852. This could suggest that ASCE has one of the most effective continuity programs in place to ensure that it achieves its mission and pursues its future endeavors.
Nevertheless, the organization continues to grow as it gains worldwide recognition. ASCE has defined its roles clearly to ensure that it stays to serve the profession and civil engineering professionals.
American Society of Civil Engineers. ASCE in Brief. 2013. Web. 29 July 2013. <http://www.asce.org/About-ASCE/ASCE-in-Brief/>.
—. ASCE’s Ongoing Strategy Management Process. 2009. Web. 29 July 2013. <http://www.asce.org/uploadedFiles/Government_Relations_-_New/Process- Glossary-ASCEStrategyManagement-12-1-09.pdf>.