UCOP considers structural overhaul in response to efficiency reports

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University of California President Janet Napolitano is contemplating a structural overhaul to her office after obtaining the results of a report conducted by Huron Consulting Group, an independent professional consulting group.

The report was commissioned last September and suggests several changes to optimize the efficiency of the University of California Office of the President, or UCOP. While Napolitano is still considering the possibility of restructuring UCOP, proposed changes could take up to two years to implement and would affect the organization of individual campuses as well.

“(The report’s) recommendations, in tandem with other strategic changes already underway, will serve as a basis of a comprehensive (UCOP) restructuring plan,” Napolitano said in a letter to UCOP’s employees upon the report’s completion. “Throughout the process, we will consult with our community to assess possible actions based on how they best position UCOP to serve our mission and the university’s stakeholders.”

According to UCOP spokesperson Dianne Klein, the report’s main purpose is to serve as a “management tool.” Some suggestions, however, may include budget cuts to some departments and adding funds to other departments.

Student Regent Paul Monge said that while the report’s suggestions seek to increase UCOP’s structural efficiency, some changes may also decrease UCOP’s overall expenses.

He referenced Gov. Jerry Brown’s letter last week at the UC regents’ meeting regarding the tuition hike, where he criticized the regents’ tuition hike in the face of the university system’s cost structures.

“What’s clear is that the state wants to see the UC taking proactive steps to both contain and reduce its cost structure,” Monge said. “Part of these internal reviews is to identify where greater efficiencies can be made and to lower (governing) costs.”

In addition to the changes proposed by Huron Consulting Group’s report, UCOP received 33 recommendations from the California State Auditor Elaine Howle last May, and is currently under review for their implementation by Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting, another independent consulting group. In her review, Howle raised several concerns about the governing of UCOP, such as its transparency in budget expenditures and the interfering of UCOP executives in a state audit survey to favor the university.

“Regents and legislators believe that the UCOP is not being honest. … I worry a lot that the bridges that have been burned between UCOP and the states can’t be rebuilt,” said Rigel Robinson, chair of university affairs for the University of California Student Association and ASUC external affairs vice president.

In discussing the tuition hike last week, the regents called on legislators to increase funding for the UC system, which they said would eliminate the necessity for a tuition hike.

Monge called the possible overhaul a step toward strengthening the relationship between the university and the state. He emphasized the necessity of showing legislators these internal reviews in order to initiate a conversation about increasing their funding.

“Producing reports, demonstrating that UCs are growing efficiency and reducing costs I hope will make legislators more willing participants in the funding conversation,” Monge said.

Contact Adrianna Buenviaje at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @adriannaDC.