Implementation of Efficiency Study May Begin in Fall

The largest savings area was in sourcing and procurement, where universities could save an estimated $16 to $40 million

June 25--The Iowa Board of Regents could start reviewing cost-savings options as early as their September meeting, the chairman of the Regents' efficiency study committee said at a town hall meeting on the study Tuesday in Ames.

Representatives from the Board of Regents, Iowa State University and Deloitte Consulting, the firm hired to conduct the efficiency study into the state's three public universities, presented their findings from phase one of the study, as well as their plans for phase two at the meeting held in ISU's Howe Hall auditorium.

After holding hundreds of meetings and interviews at ISU, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa, Deloitte presented a list of 17 categories for further review which the consultants say they believe offer "the most promise" for savings, and could bring an estimated $30-80 million in annual savings.

The largest area for savings the Deloitte identified was in sourcing and procurement, where the representatives said they believe the universities could save an estimated $16-40 million in the ways they purchase goods and services. One example they gave was for the universities to negotiate together with vendors for greater volume discounts when purchasing plumbing or cleaning supplies.

Rick Ferraro, Deloitte director, said all potential savings, as well as the costs or risks of achieving those savings, will be weighed during this second phase of the study.

Currently, phase two is scheduled to continue through December, as the consultants shift their focus to academic programs once school resumes in the fall.

However, some efficiency options may be implemented sooner than others, as Regent Larry McKibben, chair of the Board's efficiency study committee, said he may start bringing some implementation options to the Board as soon as September.

"I would expect that by our September meeting, I will present to the board for their consideration and approval, some beginning implementation phase things," he said following the meeting.

The Regents are scheduled to meet September 10 in Ames.

Each item will be posted publicly on the Regents' agenda and voted on by the full board before going forward, McKibben said.

"Right now, I'm excited as a Regent because I see more savings potentially as we move into the second phase and implementation than I thought, and that's because of the broad extensiveness and the research of the project that you see here," McKibben said. "It's probably going to be a good deal more broad than we even thought as Regents when we started into the process."

Right now, the Regents have not contracted with Deloitte to assist with implementation, but McKibben has said it is possible they may ask the consultants for help, depending on what each university and the board office can implement on their own.

Copyright 2014 - Ames Tribune, Iowa