Task Force on Efficiency reflects on progress at five-year mark

System leaders meeting with governance groups, launching survey to further improve system administration

As the President’s Task Force on Efficiency approaches its fifth birthday in November, university leadership is reaching out to faculty and staff across the system for input on achieving further improvements in how business is done within System Administration at the University of Colorado.

Faculty Council heard a presentation on the task force’s plan for this year’s outreach, which began with the council’s Feb. 28 meeting at 1800 Grant St. Leonard Dinegar, senior vice president and chief of staff, and Dan Montez, director of the Office of Policy and Efficiency, presented the latest scorecard for Administrative Policy Statements, which have been trimmed from 210 in November 2008 to 85 as of this January.

“We were pretty aggressive in paring these down, but my sense is that we’ve hit the sweet spot,” Dinegar said. “I don’t think we’re going to see much more reduction of policies.”

The number of pages associated with those policies also has tumbled since 2008, when President Bruce D. Benson established the task force: from 650 then to 265 now.

Dinegar and Montez plan to speak with between 15 and 20 groups on the campuses, including many faculty and staff governance groups, in order to gather feedback on the task force’s mission and system administration in general. A survey that launched Monday – in an email to anyone who has signed up for the task force’s policy updates, as well as several faculty and staff governance groups on the campuses – also will enable feedback.

Faculty Council member Jerry Peterson said the streamlining of policies suggests a heightened level of trust: “This decrease in the total volume of policy statements implies that the system is trusting the faculty and staff more. Is that a fair interpretation?”

Dinegar said it is.

“One thing we learned through the work of the task force is to really pay attention to, what’s the policy’s impact to the end user?” Dinegar said. “What’s it going to do to the person on the front lines?”

Benson appointed the Task Force on Efficiency in 2008 to improve system administration and its interaction with the campuses. The task force’s charge included identifying ways to improve the general efficiency and effectiveness of system administration operations.

“Many individuals on the campuses deal with system administration in a very limited way,” Dinegar said. “The campuses are paying $38 million a year to run the system administration, so you ought to know what it’s all about. The campuses ought to know what they’re getting for their money.”

At last week’s meeting, Dinegar and Montez distributed a document summarizing the task force’s work and outlining the various operations housed at system administration. The four-page primer will be made available at upcoming meetings with campus groups as well.

Among the examples of system administration efficiencies included:

  • University Treasurer saved $13.4 million by refinancing bonds.
  • University Rick Management’s Property/Casualty program saved about $4.3 million in the 2013 fiscal year.
  • The University of Colorado Health and Welfare Trust, in collaboration with UPI, has saved CU employees millions of dollars through lower premium increases (5.5 percent, which is lowest among reporting universities) and pharmacy savings ($2.8 million in the most recent year).

In other business at last week’s Faculty Council meeting:

  • Cathy Beuten, multimedia editor in University Relations, Office of the President, gave a presentation on social media and its current and potential uses across the campuses. An effort to encourage Twitter use a the recent CU Women Succeeding symposium was deemed successful.
  • Todd Saliman, , vice president and chief financial officer for the university, provided a strategic planning and budget update similar to one he presented at last month’s Board of Regents meeting.