Proposal to streamline UC Berkeley administrative offices released

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FEBRUARY 17, 2012

In an effort to streamline the number of separate UC Berkeley offices working in administrative areas like human resources, a committee within Operational Excellence released a proposal Thursday to form “shared service centers” for the campus.

Despite more than two years of planning, the proposal to create the centers — which must be approved by the initiative’s executive committee in March — still lacks a concrete budget. Additionally, the question of whether staff layoffs will occur remains unclear.

The proposal was submitted by the organizational simplification team within Operational Excellence, a campus cost-cutting initiative aiming to save over $75 million annually. The proposal seeks to group together campus administrative tasks such as human resources, finance, research administration and information technology into one location on campus, according to Bill Reichle, spokesperson for the initiative.

Shared services would be divided into three levels of oversight to make sure that faculty and staff feedback would be considered to increase efficiency, according to the proposal.

The services would be built on a “flexible, scalable approach that could respect the different size and needs of the different units they will be serving,” Reichle said in an email.

Although the shared services business case published in April 2011 stated that its pilot would begin between July and December 2011, the campus decided to hire professionals to design the project, and it was delayed as a result, according to Reichle.

The shared services design report released Jan. 26, 2011, projected that the centers would save between $20 million to $30 million annually. According to the report, the campus spends approximately $185 million annually in administrative services. But according to the April 2011 project budget, implementing the centers was estimated to cost $1.45 million.

Currently, 85 percent of the campus’ budget is spent on paying faculty and staff members, according to Reichle. In order to meet shared services savings goals, layoffs may occur, he added.

“How these new positions will be staffed is still being worked out,” Reichle said. “If we’re going to save money, we’re going to have a smaller workforce. It’s very possible that there could be layoffs in the future, especially around shared services.”

About 280 staff positions have already been eliminated under the unit restructuring project within Operational Excellence, which concluded in June 2011.

However, the Operational Excellence coordinating committee will have to vote to pass the proposal and its budget on to the executive committee over the course of its Feb. 24 and March 8 meetings. The executive committee will then approve, amend or reject the proposal and budget on March 8.

Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance John Wilton would have ultimate accountability for overseeing the shared services organization, according to Reichle.

After final approval from the executive committee, the centers would be gradually implemented as pilots to “ensure that they work for different parts of campus and allow for adjustments to be made as the organization is rolled out to the rest of campus,” Reichle said in the email.

Clarifications: A previous version of this article may have implied that staff salaries would be cut through the shared services initiative in order to reach Operational Excellence savings goals. In fact, layoffs may result from the initiative, but staff salaries will not be cut.
Corrections: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Shared Services initiative seeks to group together campus administrative tasks into eight to 12 service centers on campus. In fact, the proposal calls for one main campus location for Shared Services. The previous version of this article also incorrectly stated that the proposal is seeking approval past its deadline. In fact, the current design team did not have a timeline. The previous version of this article also 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.

Contact Afsana Afzal at 


MARCH 20, 2012

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