The Board of Regents approved another one million dollars Wednesday for the ongoing efficiency review of the three state universities. Regent Larry McKibben of Marshalltown, chairs the committee overseeing the review and says the first phase has already identified several areas where they might save money.
One area identified for savings is in the purchasing of goods and services. “Benchmarks of year-over-year savings from the other university’s success suggests that we may have significant potential savings in the areas of procurement — both at the university level and at the Regents level across all university organizations,” McKibben says.
He says there are opportunities for savings in administrative operations and in “space utilization.” “We think there are scheduling things, utility things, operational costs that can have some significant savings. As I said before, money that is plowed back into our universities for their use and their mission,” McKibben says.
McKibben says they narrowed some 100 cost savings areas down to 14 to 18. They will wrap up the final list later this month. “We expect them to go back the second or third week of June…they will go back in and listening to their sounding boards at the universities,” McKibben says. He says they will probably have a less structured format as they go back in and talk over things again with university officials.
The board had already agreed to pay consultant Deloitte $2.5 million for the study. McKibben says the cost will increase as they want to extend the academic portion, or phase two of the study farther into this fall. The plan was to have that done by September, but McKibben says they want to extend that into December to allow more input on the academic issues. “It was the committee’s consensus that that would not be fair to our stakeholders, our faculty and our university folks to work in the academic area, then come in with our predetermined decision-making process without their input,” McKibben explains. “And as you’ll recall, I’ve committed that we are going to have their input and they are going to be prime players in determining these efficiencies, because the money is going to go back into their departments.”
Regent Ruth Harkin questioned why they couldn’t see evidence of the work completed by Deloitte before approving more money. McKibben assured her the work is going to pay off when it comes to their return on investment or ROI. “I think when we tie this down in the month of June, we will have numbers for you and they will be much more detailed, and you will find the ROI for the universities is going to be a very significant number,” McKibben says. McKibben says he expects the return to be even higher than the original six to 10 times the investment that was talked about when the board decided to move ahead with the study.