Board of Regents efficiency review to save $7 million this year

'TIER is a success'

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Nearly two years after the Board of Regents embarked on a systemwide efficiency review aimed at ushering in a “new era of accountability and educational excellence” officials expect initial savings could reach $7 million by the end of the budget year.

That projection includes efficiencies the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and University of Northern Iowa already have made. With many others being rolled out, officials with the board’s “transparent, inclusive, efficiency review” — or TIER — say they expect savings to swell.

“We are on track to save significant funding at all three institutions,” said Mark Braun, interim chief operating officer for the Board of Regents Office.

The $7 million, however, is far from the $16 million to $40 million that Deloitte Consulting LLC in August 2014 projected the universities would save over the subsequent 18 to 24 months by changing sourcing and procurement practices.

But Braun said Deloitte’s estimates were “dynamic” and “high-level,” and they involved implementing changes across 18 commodity areas within the two-year period. Huron Consulting Group, hired to implement Deloitte’s sourcing and procurement recommendations, instead started by focusing on seven commodity areas — including office supplies, desk and laptops, janitor supplies, and food vendors.

For those seven areas, Huron is projecting savings between $5 million and $10 million in the first year they all are implemented and between $4 million and nearly $8 million in recurrent years. Those estimates are not included in the $7 million in savings expected by the end of the current budget year.

That total, rather, includes things like $450,000 in utility savings at Iowa State, $300,000 in recurring savings from information technology restructuring at two UI colleges, and $50,000 in savings from organizational restructuring within UNI’s IT departments.

Deloitte, in its initial review of the Board of Regents system, identified 17 opportunities in areas like technology, finance, human resources, sourcing and procurement, and facilities, and estimated total annual savings of between $30 million and $80 million a year.

Many of those projects are coming online now, and Braun said he believes this efficiency review eventually will reach Deloitte’s original projections. Braun also pointed out that some of the efficiency review’s recommendations are not necessarily aimed at saving money but, rather, improving service or saving time.

Based on efficiency review recommendations, the universities have rolled out a common application portion in hopes of reducing the work for students wanting to apply to all three schools. The board has updated its “regents admission index,” which calculates assured admission for in-state students, to reflect the growing number of students without class rank.

As far as efficiency review costs go, the board to date has spent about $5.4 million on consulting fees and expenses related to the project. The bill is expected to grow to at least $5.8 million — although the total could be higher once all reimbursement requests for things like food and travel are paid.

Contracted fees — without adding expenses — include about $3.3 million to Deloitte; $100,000 to Ad Astra; $604,000 to Pappas Consulting Group; $550,648 to Chazey Partners; and $895,000 to Huron.

When comparing costs and savings to date, the net gain is about $1.6 million.

“So TIER is a success,” Braun said.

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