The Smithsonian Institution (SI) was founded in 1846 by Congress, and it is considered the world’s largest museum and research complex. The Smithsonian Institution was established with funds from James Smithson (1765-1829), a British scientist who came to the United States to found “at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”
Nowadays, the Smithsonian Institution is composed of 19 museums and galleries including the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, nine research facilities throughout the United States and the world, and the national zoo. Besides the original Smithsonian Institution Building, popularly known as the “Castle,” visitors to Washington, D.C., tour the National Museum of Natural History, which houses the natural science collections, the National Zoological Park, and the National Portrait Gallery. The National Museum of American History houses the original Star-Spangled Banner and other artifacts of U.S. history. The National Air and Space Museum has the distinction of being the most visited museum in the world, exhibiting such marvels of aviation and space history as the Wright brothers’ plane and Freedom 7, the space capsule that took the first American into space. John Smithson, the Smithsonian Institution’s great benefactor, is interred in a tomb in the Smithsonian Building.
The Institution is a non-profit organization because its mean propurse is to provide services and knowledge to its visitors rather than make a profit. In addition,, this organization is less dependent on clients for financial support. It means that most of its financial support and resources come from activities like donations.
Smithsonian’s mission statement is “The increase and diffusion of knowledge”.
In non- profit organizations, mission statements typically identify both the audience and product or service being offered. They usually answer the questions: What are we producing and for whom? In this case the Smithsonian’s mission statement relates the services provide which is knowledge, but it does not say who is the audience. However, it can be implied that the target is the people.
Smithsonian’s vision statement is “Shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, and sharing our resources with the world.”
Despite this vision statement establishes what the Institution wants in the future, I think it lacks some important points such as where they are going and how they see the organization in the future.
In addition, Smithsonian Institution has established some values, which are related below:
Smithsonian Institution’ Board of Regents
Congress vested responsibility for the administration of the Smithsonian in a Board of Regents, consisting of the Chief Justice of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, three members of the United States Senate, three members of the United States House of Representatives, and nine citizens. The Board of Regents meets at least four times each year and typically convenes in the Regents Room.
Some of the board of regents’ functions are:
The following chart shows the Smithsonian organization which had updated in February 2016
The Strategic Plan is designed to capitalize on Smithsonian strengths and address critical issues facing the world. It serves as a clear flexible roadmap to guide its choices and direct its resources over the course of the Plan. It discloses organization’s vision and mission, priorities such as focusing on grand challenges, broadening access and measuring outcomes. In additions, the strategic plan mentions the outcomes, goals, objectives, and strategies that the organization plans to take in order to accomplish its purpose and mission.
The Smithsonian’s strategic plan covers a period of five fiscal years. Nowadays, the plan that is been used covers the years from 2010 to 2015. Usually, this plan is updated a few months before the current plan comes to the end.
The Strategic planning process is divided in five stages before the final version is approved. The first stage involves gathering information from staff and other stakeholders on the institution’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats through surveys, and interviews. The second stage involves four scenario-planning workshops and a plenary session designed to explore the external forces that will affect the Smithsonian in the near, medium, and long term: economic and geopolitical influences, trends in the research and museum fields, demographic and technological change. This stage is very important step because it enables the organization to create a vision statement, and also it is the guide for the formulation process of the specific goals and strategies for the institution. Then, a third stage takes place where senior management, the Secretary, the Board of regents Strategic Planning and Programs committee, and the Board provides the necessary information to craft goals, objectives, and strategies for each grand challenge. The fourth stage is focused on writing the document. Finally, the last stage promulgates the strategic plan.
As a result of this process, the current strategic plan for the fiscal years 2010-2015 discloses the following information:
3.Outcomes, goals, objectives, and strategies: For each grand challenge, the strategic plan’s committee has identified their respective outcomes, goals, objectives, and strategies, which will help to achieve this plan. The following table shows some examples of them:
|Table 1: Smithsonian Institution Strategic Plan’s Outcomes, Goals, Objectives and Strategies|
|Unlocking the mystery of the universe||Major strides in understanding the fundamental nature of the universe and our place in it
|The Smithsonian advances knowledge at the forefront of understanding the universe and solid earth.||* Understand the formation, geological diversity, and dynamics of the earth, the Moon, and other rocky bodies in our solar system.
* Discover how galaxies form, cluster, and interact; grow supermassive black holes; and evolve with cosmic time
|* Establish a center that supports integrative research by Smithsonian scientists to address one or more big questions in the origin and evolution of the earth, planets, stars, galaxies, and universe; and integrates development activities through public and private partnerships with organizations working in similar areas.
* Organize collaborations of scientists, humanities scholars, cultural experts, artists, and educators to explore varied ways of understanding the nature of the universe.
|Understanding and sustaining a biodiverse planet||Sustainability of life on Earth through improved knowledge of biodiversity and its role in the healthy functioning of ecosystems
|* The Smithsonian advances and synthesizes knowledge that contributes to the survival of at-risk ecosystems and species.||* Increase access to Smithsonian collections, data, and long-term research platforms to better document biodiversity and its importance to the complex interactions of natural systems.
* Develop concepts, theories, tools, and models that contribute directly to halting biodiversity loss, managing species and their habitats, restoring ecosystems, and mitigating threats to the environment.
|* Establish a center that supports and brokers interdisciplinary research on big questions that could result in major scientific breakthroughs; dissemination of data and information; and public and private partnerships.
* Foster the development and use of cutting-edge equipment, technologies, and informatics that can advance biodiversity and ecosystem research.
|Valuing world cultures||Greater understanding of, respect for, and meaningful engagement among the world’s peoples and cultures
|The Smithsonian contributes insights into the evolution of humanity and the diversity of the world’s cultures, arts, and creativity.
|* Add to knowledge of migrations, diasporas, and interactions of cultural groups.
* Study historic and contemporary cultural and artistic heritage, with particular emphasis on the arts of Asia and Africa, the heritage of the Americas, indigenous knowledge and expressive systems, and modern and contemporary art and design.
|* Develop a pan-institutional center for world cultures that organizes museum and research center directors and key scholars to define and implement a research agenda for cross-cultural scholarship and exchanges.
* Develop strategic partnerships and encourage engagement with cultural leaders and organizations, scholars, and fellows around the world.
|Understanding the American experience||Greater understanding of the American experience by Americans and people across the world
|The Smithsonian advances and synthesizes knowledge that contributes to understanding the American experience, particularly its history, arts and culture, and its connections to other world regions.
|* Conduct research and develop collections and documentation on contemporary American life and creativity.
* Use biography and stories of individuals such as leaders, inventors, artists, and cultural exemplars to put a personal face on the evolving nature of the American character.
|* Collect actively to document the historic and ongoing accomplishments and creativity of the American people.
Develop the Smithsonian’s collections to capture the evanescent elements of cultural heritage, such as performances and craft traditions, stories, oral histories and narratives, photographs and other still imagery, and media recordings.
– Number of people participating in Smithsonian educational programs.
– Number of physical visits to Smithsonian museums, he national Zoo, and Smithsonian traveling exhibitions.
– Number of visitors using online resources.
Finally, the strategic plan discloses its resources allocation. For instance, The Smithsonian annual budget is approximately $1 billion. Current budget distributions according to the Plan’s priorities are shown in the following table.
In addition, the Smithsonian has the following supporting strategic plans:
This plan talks about the role that information technology (IT) plays in fulfilling that mission, as well as goals and objectives defined in the Institution’s strategic plan. Furthermore, the SITP contains engaging executive-level management and program sponsors in the IT planning process, and focusing increased attention on IT investment decision-making and performance management. It is used to provide information and justification necessary to program IT resource requirements into the budget process, and presents the planned allocation of funds for IT activities to executive management, program sponsors, and customers.
This plan supports the Smithsonian’s strategic plan and has as a mission to digitize the resources of the Institution for the widest possible use by current and future generations. Moreover, its mean purpose is to provide access to Smithsonian collections, research, and programs by creating, managing, and promoting the Institution’s digital assets. As a result, people are able to learn all the time.
This plan identifies the sustainability strategies that the institution will pursue in the year, and how they will measure progress. Some goals are to goals to decrease potable water use per square foot, decrease fleet petroleum use, reduce direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, and increase use of renewable energy.
Finally, there are others plans that support the institution’s strategic plan such as climate change adaption plan, and collections space framework plan
Planning and Resources Allocation comments and recommendations
First of all, the Smithsonian Institution’s planning process and strategic plans are well developed, but there are some points that they should improve in order to accomplish their goals. For example:
Despite the fact that every program talks about resources allocation, I was unable to find an specific information of how they do allocate resources, but I believe that the most resources go to the development of the strategic plan and directly to the overall mission because those are the main structures of the institution.
I was not able to find specific information regarding to programming, but according to all the information that I have found and read in this research, I believe that the institution has a plan for programming in order to decide what projects or programs will be funded, executed, and who will be the responsible. I think that the Board of Regents has the authority and responsibility to allocate and ensure that resources, programs, and activities are executed. In addition, the Board of Regents is responsible for establishing the strategic direction of the Institution. It provides guidance on and oversight of Smithsonian policies and operations, ensures that Smithsonian resources are responsibly and prudently managed in compliance with legal and ethical requirements, and evaluate the effectiveness of Smithsonian programs.
The Smithsonian’s budget system is composed by a combination of performance and program budgeting systems. Its annual budget is approximately $1.25 billion. Just less than two-thirds of this amount is funded through Federal Government appropriations. Congress appropriates funding to support ongoing operations, which includes Federal staff salaries, collections care, and facilities maintenance, and construction and revitalization of the Institution’s physical infrastructure. Furthermore, the Smithsonian receives over 60% of its funding from Federal Appropriations and the balance from trust funds. Trust funding sources include restricted and unrestricted private gifts, payouts from the Endowment, Grants & Contracts, business income, and memberships contributions.
The administration’s fiscal year 2017 budget request to Congress for the Smithsonian is $922 million, an increase of $82 million from the appropriation enacted in FY 2016 of $840 million. Most of the increase, $63 million, will be allocated to Salaries and Expenses (S&E) for operations at the Institution’s museums and research institutes.
The Facilities Capital request for FY 2017 is $163 million. Funds are directed toward revitalization projects involving major repairs to address significant infrastructure problems. The only construction funding in the budget request is $50 million for the collections facility at the Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., to house National Air and Space Museum artifacts during renovation. An additional $29.3 million will be used for facilities planning and design. The following chart is a budget summary of 2016 and 2017:
|Fiscal Year 2016 Enacted||Fiscal Year 2017
|Salaries and Expenses (S&E)||$696,045,000||$759,224,000|
Planning and Design for future projects
Construction (collections storage module)
Besides federal appropriations, the institution has other funding sources, which are approximately one-third of the Institution’s annual budget. Sources include restricted and unrestricted private gifts, payouts from the Endowment, external grants and contracts, business income, and memberships contributions. For the fiscal year 2015, private funds raised $229,641,000, and sponsored projects, grants and contracts awarded $161,910,386.
Finally, it is very important to emphasize that the institution has established a contingency funds if any event happens and affects the project’s capital. As a result, the contingency is between 10 and 15 percent of the estimated costs. Project managers are responsible to report contingency funds every month in the Quad chart allowing management to control and monitor the project funding.
Budget comments and recommendations
I think that the Smithsonian’s budget system is well structured. In addition, the institution has established plans that specify how much and where the funds come from, and how they will be allocate. Furthermore, in order to ensure that projects will not run out of resources, managers establish contingency funds for each activity, project, or process. As a result, the institution will be able to accomplish its main purpose, which is the increase and diffusion of knowledge.
The Smithsonian Institution’s budgetary process has five distinct components: strategic and annual planning, formulation of the Federal budget, formulation of the Trust budget, approval of the integrated Federal/Trust budget plan, and monitoring funds’ usage against plan during the year of execution. The key events and activities that comprise these budget processes are listed in the following table which also identifies the critical stakeholder roles associated with each event and activity. Source: Improving Regents’ Oversight of the Smithsonian Budget
Finally, the annual Integrated Budget Plan (IBP) is a document that establishes the Institution’s overall budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The IBP consists of the following budget components: Federal Salaries and Expenses, Federal Facilities Capital, central Trust, non-allocated Trust, and SBV’s annual budget. The IBP is presented to the Regents by the CFO at the September meeting and approved by the Regents. Actual financial performance is measured against this plan, and variances explained, at succeeding Regents’ meetings as part of the CFO’s Financial Position report. In approving the Integrated Budget Plan, the Regents also are approving the central Trust, non- allocated Trust, and the Smithsonian Business Ventures (SBV) business budgets approved by the Secretary.
Budget Execution comments and recommendations
Despite the fact that the institution has its budget execution process, I was not able to find information regard to spending plans, but I think they have it, which is probably not disclose in the Web. However, I think that creating spending plans will gives the institution control over its resources, and plan clearly how allocate them to each project.
Finally, I think that the institution has a strong budget execution program, which discloses the key activities or events and who is the responsible to execute them and ensure that every project is receiving the appropriate and enough resources. In addition, an important point is that the budget is measured against the previous year in order to improve it and cover any extra event that might happen.
According to Smithsonian Institution’s financial Statements 2015, the financial statements present the financial position, financial activity, and cash flows of the Smithsonian on the accrual basis of accounting. This means that transactions are counted when they happen, regardless of when the money is actually received or paid. In addtion, funds that are received from direct federal appropriations and related transactions are reported as federal funds while all other funds and related transactions are reported as trust funds.
More important facts about Smithsonian’s accounting program are that expenses are presented on a functional basis in the statement of financial activity where programs include research, collections management, education, public programs and exhibitions, and business activities. Supporting services include administration and advancement. Administration includes centrally managed services, which directly report to the Office of Finance and Accounting and unit managed, which are part of museums and centers across Smithsonian. Depreciation, security, and other operating costs that are general and benefit more than one program are allocated across programs and services based on a square footage methodology.
Accounting comments and recommendations
The Smithsonian’s accounting systems is well structured and allows the institution to know where the money is spending and facilitates the decision making process. In addition, it helps managers to prevent misused the money, identify historical trends which makes them able to predict or have an idea of what is going to happen in the future. Finally, It enables the institution to increase efficiency because managers are aware how money is spending, so they can reallocate resources when the process needs it.
There is not enough information about financial management. However, the institution has established that management level is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of these financial statements in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles; this includes the design, implementation, and maintenance of internal control relevant to the preparation and fair presentation of financial statements that are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error.
According to the Board of Regents duties, I think that they are the ones responsible for ensuring that the Institution’s financial and human resource needs for the accomplishment of the institution’s mission and strategic priorities are enough, so it is not enough resources, they should assist the Smithsonian’s efforts to generate resources through private fund raising and revenue-generating activities.
The Smithsonian Institution’s financial reports are prepared with data from the Institution’s accounting records. Also, they use PeopleSoft to manage its federal and trust resources. Some statements are balance sheet and statement of operations. These financial statements can be considered complete and reliable as evidenced by the report provided by the independent audit firm of KPMG LLP, and represent the results of all activities supported by federal appropriations granted to the Smithsonian. For instance, the balance sheet for the fiscal year 2015 reflects total assets of $ 1,809.0 million, a 3.9 percent increase over the previous year. Approximately 83 percent of these assets are invested in property and equipment, with the balance of assets (approximately 17 percent) represented principally by cash and balances with the United States Treasury. Liabilities (accounts payable and accrued expenses) comprise approximately 41.5 percent of the Smithsonian’s liabilities and include $54 million of the unfunded liability for impairment of fixed assets recorded for the first time in FY 2013.
The Smithsonian Institution is adutied by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) which is an independent, objective office within the Smithsonian Institution and has as mission to contribute to the strategic advancement of the Smithsonian Institution through independent and transparent oversight. The OIG reports only to the Smithsonian Board of Regents and to Congress.
Some of the its functions are:
The Office of the Inspector General conducts and supervises audits relating to Smithsonian programs and operations. At least annually, they conduct an analysis to identify high-risk areas for review to provide assurance that the Institution’s programs and operations are working efficiently and effectively. The results of this analysis are published as the annual audit plan. OIG audits are conducted in accordance with Government Audit Standards, promulgated by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The OIG also monitors the external audit of the Institution’s financial statements and contracts out reviews of the Institution’s information security practices.
In addition , the institution is audited by an independent public accounting (IPA) firm which will audit the Smithsonian’s financial statements. The IPA will perform procedures to include assessing whether the Smithsonian’s financial statements are presented fairly, in all material respects, in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles. OIG will review audit documentation, evaluate key judgments, and determine whether the IPA’s work conforms to relevant auditing and accounting standards.
Financial reporting and audits comments and recommendations
All the Smithsonian Institution’s activities are audited by internal entities like Office of the Inspector General and external entities like KPMG LLP. The reports from the audits show the strengths and weaknesses of its processes, and the recommendations that the institution should do in order to improve. I was not able to find any information about the process that the institution uses to address those recommendations, so I think that they should make a plan where establish the actions to be taken, the responsible person and the resources needed to improve them.
Smithsonian Institution leaders and managers effectively manage people, ensure continuity of leadership, and sustain a learning environment that drives continuous improvement in performance. As a consequence, the institution has a human capital strategic plan for the fiscal years 2011-2016, which is directly linked to the overarching SI strategic plan.
The main goal is develop leaders and talented employees at all levels of the Smithsonian to help achieve operational success through engagement, collaboration, innovation, and creativity. This goal is supported by some objectives such as:
Consequently, in order to accomplish those objectives, the plan mentions some activities that the Institution develops to keep improving its processes. For example, the workforce is established through cross-functional leadership development, rotation of positions, joint appointments, sabbaticals, exchanges with outside entities, technology and business management training, and other professional development opportunities.
Knowledge management comments and recommendations
I think that the Smithsonian Institution has a well developed plan that:
Performance management is critical to sustaining the highest standards of excellence. The institution will engage all levels of leadership in matching outcomes, goals, objectives, and strategies to performance indicators that will specifically and annually measure progress toward our goals. Indicators will be transparent and updated regularly.
The Smithsonian’s annual performance plan for fiscal year 2015 is based on the Institution’s Strategic Plan which is built around four grand challenges which provide an overarching strategic framework for Smithsonian programs and operations those are: unlocking the mysteries of the Universe, understanding and sustaining a biodiverse planet, valuing world cultures, and understanding the American experience. Strategic priorities which will enable the Institution to make leading contributions to national and global efforts in the four challenges include conducting world class research, broadening access, revitalizing education, crossing boundaries, strengthening collections, and achieving organizational excellence. Under each strategic priority are annual organizational goals and key performance indicators which will be used to assess Institutional performance. The organizational goals are aligned with the program structure used in the Smithsonian’s Federal budget documents and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) financial accounting system. This framework allows the Institution to focus on program results and organizational accountability as mandated by the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), GPRA Modernization Act of 2010, and related Office of Management and Budget (OMB) performance standards, which include having a limited number of outcome-oriented goals and key performance indicators, and relating dollars budgeted and results achieved.
In order to measuring performance, the Smithsonian Institution uses three types of measures, which are input, output and outcome, and focuses its key performance indicators in the following categories: facilities, performance management, human resources management, diversity, information technology, financial, security, and education. Some examples of these indicators are:
Performance management comments and recommendations
According to the information that I found, I think that the Smithsonian Instittution is doing a good job about measuring its performance because they are integrating performance indicators throughout the Institution in order to track program results. In addition, they are incorporating performance metrics in individual performance plans which makes easy to manage and link the institution’s plans. Finally, I think that by using input, output, and outcome indicatiors helps the institutions to link its process and know how the institution is performing.
There is not enough information about risk management, but some risks are identified. As a result, they have created emergency planning, response, and recovery process are disclosed. As an example, the institution has identified risks such as pictures damage and fire emergencies, and created a prevention plan for its collections and archives that seeks to prolong the life of all collections materials and covers staff safety and the safety of collections. Another risks that they have identified are misuse, fraud, waste, and abuse resources, and damage of high value and risk collections objects like gems and historial documents. Moreover, I founded that they have a Financial Reporting and Risk Management Internal Controls plan, but I was unable to find it, so I think they describe the risk management process, actions to be taken, and resources allocations there.
Risk Management comments and recommendations
According to the information found, the Institution has identified some risk that would affect its activities and processes, but I would like to add some others risks that I think they might face like:
Finally, the institution should classify its risk by qualitative, quantitative and semi- quantitative, which will help managers to have control, mitigate, accept, or avoid the risk. A form of analysis is by creating a matrix of risks where they should specify the frequency, vulnerability, threat, and consequences of the risk to evaluate what it is its risk level (low, moderate, or high).
The institution has the following plans that enables the institution’s continuity: The Smithsonian’s disaster preparedness plan, entitled Disaster Management Program and Business Continuity Master Plan. These plans address three key areas for the Smithsonian: disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. The Disaster Preparedness Manager, who works in OPS, is in charge of managing disaster preparedness for the Smithsonian and for monitoring disaster preparedness at the units. In addition, each unit has its own disaster management plan. OPS periodically tests the Smithsonian’s emergency response system to train the employees what to do in the case of an emergency. These exercises are significant to help ensure the safety of the work force and collections.
Continuity comments and recommendations
Despite the fact that the specific information about continuity is not disclosed, I think that the institution has developed a good continuity process supporting by plans that address the possible events or disaster and how to response to them, and finally how to recover the institution to keep providing its services. Moreover, the institution trains its employees to make sure that they are aware of this programs and how to act in case of emergency, which makes me think that they have a good communication systems along the institution.
The Smithsonian Institution has a rigorous and well-structured management control systems that enables them to accomplish its mission and provides an excellent service. Some relevant points are:
 Smithsonian Institution. Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2010 – 2015. [Online] Available:
 Smithsonian Institution. Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan. June 2015. [Online] Available:
 Smithsonian Institution. Digitization Strategic Plan. Fiscal Years 2010 – 2015. [Online] Available:
 Smithsonian Institution Office of the Inspector General. Capital Projects Oversight Report Number A-09-08, January 22, 2010. [Online] Available:
 Smithsonian Institution. Financial Statements. September 30, 2013. [Online] Available:
 Smithsonian Institution .Smithsonian Fiscal Year 2017 Federal Budget Request. February 10, 2016. [Online] Available:
 Smithsonian Institution . The Office of the Inspector General. [Online] Available:
 Smithsonian Institution . Understanding the OIG Audit Process. [Online] Available:
 Smithsonian Institution . Human Capital Strategic Plan. Fiscal Years 2010 – 2016 [Online] Available:
 Smithsonian Institution . Audit Plan. Fiscal Year 2014. [Online] Available:
 History. Smithsonian Institution created. Histoy.com. [Online] Available: