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Deloitte consulting lays out UI recommendations

BY MICHAEL KADRIE | OCTOBER 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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Final recommendations for changes at the University of Iowa were presented for local response Thursday to the UI community.

Deloitte, a consulting company, has presented phase two of its recommendations for improvements that could be made at the Iowa regent schools.

After an analysis of the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University, and the UI, Deloitte has identified 12 specific areas that the firm believes could use improvement. Four of the issues were previously reviewed by the Board of Regents and therefore weren’t presented Thursday.

Of the remaining eight areas, only six pertain to the University of Iowa. They are broken up into three sections: finance, information technology, and human resources.

None of these recommendations are final until the regents vote on them individually at their Nov. 14 meeting.

Iowa regent-university presidents will have an opportunity to gather responses and additional information from students, faculty, and staff to present to the regents during an Oct. 23 meeting in Iowa City.

Once approved, the regents will then decide how to implement the strategies outlined by Deloitte and whether to continue working with the consulting firm in the subsequent process.

According to Deloitte’s presentation, all the regent universities suffer from similar problems with financial-service quality, handoffs in the system, and accountability.

Deloitte representative Emily Todd said though they observed the UI has begun to evaluate ways to change the way it handles financial services, there was still significant room for improvement.

Todd presented two alternatives, the College-Based and University-wide models.

The College-Based model would centralize financial lines of authority in separate colleges, which could eventually save the UI $1.8 million.

The University-Wide Model is different because it organizes all of the financial authority for colleges in the UI directly through one office, potentially saving the UI $3.8 million.

“There are many hybrid options that exist within this spectrum,” Todd said.

Deloitte found similar problems of redundancy in human resources. Todd said the UI has 100 local human-resource representatives on campus, and each department has a very different structure.

“There is a lack of reporting responsibility between centralized human resources and decentralized human resources, creating unequal levels of service,” she said.

She said by clarifying responsibilities and channels of communication the UI could save approximately $900,000.

Information-technology recommendations generally focused on reducing paper use, as well as the centralization of data and applications.

“Some of these systems are coming to the end of their life, which provides an opportunity,” Deloitte representative Shamic Suka said. “… It is typically cheaper to replace programs.”

These initiatives could potentially save the UI more than $3 million.

UI Staff Council President Chuck Wieland had questions about the specific metrics that Deloitte used to calculate the numbers in the business cases.

“[The numbers] have a theoretical feel rather than a practical feel,” he said.

UI human-resources unit representative Angie Lamb said she does not believe Deloitte’s vision has the UI’s faculty and students’ best interests in mind. Specifically, she’s concerned the presentation treated the UI too much “like a business.”

She said she was also concerned because when she asked Deloitte representatives how the performance-based funding interacted with their predictions, they dismissed her concern as irrelevant. She said this is the second time they have refused to answer her question.

Lamb said her concerns were shared by many of her coworkers.

“[Deloitte] is focusing on smaller details, when the bigger picture is more important,” she said.


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