University of California administrators recently introduced a plan to save $500 million a year in operating costs by streamlining administrative, energy and inventory spending throughout the system.
Top administrators said the savings effort — which aims to centralize processes within the UC in order to alleviate its $650 million budget shortfall — is a top priority. However, although the proposal constitutes a large portion of the University’s quest to rejuvenate its budget, the plan remains in its preliminary stages.
According to UCSB’s Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas, the most recent savings plan, while ambitious, follows the efforts of eight or nine previous attempts to create a more centralized UC.
“The problem with implementing a common system is that there are always campuses that just invested tens of millions of dollars in a new system, and don’t want to change again,” Lucas said. “It costs money to save money in the long run.”
However, despite previous failures to implement efficiency efforts, Ron Cortez, associate vice chancellor of administrative services at UCSB, said he feels the urgency of the UC’s financial circumstances may give the current proposal the extra push it needs to succeed where others have not.
“The difficult budget situation has placed us into a situation in which we are forced to look at a new way at providing services,” Cortez said.
The University’s plans include an idea to have each campus purchase academic supplies such as computers from a single vendor and distribute them to individual campuses, rather than have each campus use different vendors.
According to Cortez, the UC payment system is also a principal concern.
“The financial [payment] system is one of our oldest systems and needs to be replaced in order to ensure the continuous efficient operation of our campus,” Cortez said.
Currently, each UC campus has a separate system to handle payroll, but as UC Chief Financial Officer Peter Taylor suggested in a press release, implementing one payroll system for all UC campuses could prove to be much more cost-effective.
According to UCSB’s Assistant Chancellor for Budget and Planning Todd Lee, saving on energy costs is also a critical component of the UC savings plan. On the local scale, Lee said, UCSB is currently working on over $12 million worth of energy-related projects.