Operational Excellence proposal to streamline administrative tasks submitted

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Following a Feb. 14 proposal to consolidate campus administrative tasks into one main location, a team within Operational Excellence submitted a request for approval of the proposal last Friday.

The campus shared services team of Operational Excellence  — UC Berkeley’s controversial cost-cutting initiative to streamline campus operations — presented a 19-page request to its overseeing coordinating committee, asking for funding and resources for implementation of the project. The committee will decide whether to approve the project after March 8, according to Sybil Kelly Wartenberg, communications manager for the project.

Shared services, if approved, will work to consolidate campus administrative tasks such as human resources, finance, research administration and information technology into “shared service centers” in one main location.

According to Wartenberg, the team will present its case again to the coordinating committee as well as the Operational Excellence Executive Committee on March 8. A formal decision about the request — and the project — will be made after that date.

According to a Jan. 26, 2011 report, the centers are projected to save the campus between $20 million and $30 million annually. As a whole, the entire Operational Excellence initiative is expected to save a total of $112 million this year — over $30 million more than originally anticipated — according to a Jan. 13 report.

“Funding for the implementation of the (shared services) project would come out of the interest-free loan that Berkeley has arranged through the UC Office of the President,” Wartenberg said in an email.

She added that the funding model and revenue projections for the operation have not yet been finalized, but are expected to be made public in May. A previous April 2011 project budget stated that implementing the centers was estimated to cost $1.45 million.

But the team’s current resource request estimates the total cost of implementation for shared services at between $18.6 million and $20.7 million, spread out over the next four years. The team is seeking an “incremental request” of $3.6 million to $5.7 million, according to Wartenberg. More than $14 million of the funding the team is requesting — which will fund things like software and training — “has been recognized for funding potential OE projects,” she said.

“The request for resources is to fund the implementation of the project,” Wartenberg said in the email. “The funding model due out later this year will address how Shared Services will be paid for by the campus on an ongoing basis.”

The request for resources presentation outlined a project work plan that includes several phases — such as infrastructure development and pre-implementation — that culminate in a continuous improvement phase, which could last past 2014.

The current timeline — which could change, based on dependencies with other projects, funding and other issues — calls for pre-implementation to begin in April, and for full implementation of the first group of campus units to be supported by shared services to begin in September, Wartenberg said.

Amy Wang covers academics and administration.

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that implementing the centers was originally estimated to cost $1.45 million, according to an April 2011 project budget. In fact, the budget estimated the cost of hiring an implementation team.

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