The Board of Regents today approved moving ahead with a recommendation from a consultant to combine the purchases of the three state-supported universities into one plan. The board president, Bruce Rastetter, says the proposal from the consultant Deloitte will save the University of Iowa, Northern Iowa and Iowa State University millions of dollars. He says Deloitte will meet with the three universities and develop a plan where they will enter into a master contract together for purchasing that will help lower costs.

Rastetter says they expect to save in a couple of different ways. “Some of that would be in master contract, some of that would be in the standardization of items purchase and how they purchase those collectively together,” according to Rastetter. The estimates for savings in the next year-and-a-half to two years ranges from 16 to 40 million dollars in purchases of office supplies, food, furniture and other things needed to keep the schools running.

Regent Larry McKibben says that’s an early estimate. “As we move this process forward, this gap will narrow and we will have a much tighter number. But they are not yet willing until they work with all three universities moving forward in wave one to give a tight number,” McKibben says. “But as they move forward over the next few months, that number will tighten.”

Rastetter says the savings are expected to average between two and four percent of what each school spends. “Which if you look at the numbers that they are now getting closer to, if there’s 900 million dollars of savings and you have three percent, then it’s 27 millions dollars a year. And so, it’s real money that tuition dollars and state appropriations is paying for today that will benefit students and student debt and lowering that going forward,” Rastetter says.

The Board of Regents also agreed today that Deloitte will turn in receipts for travel and food that had not previously been submitted. Rastetter says they worked with the consultants after questions from the media about the receipts. “It’s a normal contract that consultants would do where they don’t turn in those expenses, but we think within the spirit of what we’ve comitted to the public that it just makes sense that those receipts and that those expense accounts be forwarded to the board office,” Rastetter says.

The board authorized the Regent’s executive director to negotiate a contract with Deloitte for implementing the program. They won’t know the cost of implementing this first phase until that contract is complete. The board previously authorized up to $3.3 million for the first two phases of the project, but did not approve any money to implement any of the proposals.