Campus to implement shared services for administrative tasks

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Following two years of planning, a campus project to consolidate administrative tasks was approved Thursday to begin preliminary implementation in April with an initial budget of up to $20.72 million.

The project, which is part of the campus’s controversial Operational Excellence initiative, will group together campus administrative tasks such as human resources, finance, research administration and informational technology into one campus location by December 2014, according to project communications manager Sybil Kelly Wartenberg.

The initiative’s executive committee — which is made up of top campus administrators including Chancellor Robert Birgeneau — also approved the project’s estimated $18.62 million to $20.72 million budget developed in a February proposal, which is being funded through a portion of a loan of up to $50 million from the UC Office of the President, according to Wartenberg. The bulk of this budget will go toward staff salaries, software expenses and rented office space.

About $8.91 million of the total approved project budget is expected to go toward staff salaries. Initiative spokesperson Bill Reichle said that in order to save the campus money, staff layoffs around shared services may occur.

However, Wartenberg said she could not comment on whether staff positions would be cut until the project’s team members determine how staff positions will be laid out within the center by late April or early May.

The approved budget estimates that shared services will save the campus between $53.3 million and $60.6 million by 2020. According to a shared services design team report released Jan. 26, 2011, the campus currently spends about $185 million annually on administrative services.

Starting in April, the project team will begin the pre-implementation phase — which includes an initial assessment of the administrative tasks that each academic and administrative department undertakes — with one group of departments.

That group will not begin using shared services until September. The remaining academic departments are divided into five other groups that will begin using shared services incrementally thereafter, with all departments expected to have adopted the system by December 2014.

As a whole, the Operational Excellence initiative is expected to save a total of $112 million this year — about $30 million more than originally projected — according to a Jan. 13 report.

The project team is in the process of developing a funding model that would strategize how the campus would keep shared services financially sustainable after its implementation is complete.

According to the project’s executive director Thera Kalmijn, the funding model will be proposed to the initiative’s executive committee in late April or early May, but will not require any additional funding beyond what was approved.

Amruta Trivedi is the lead academics and administration reporter.