Bain Begins Analysis Of Campus Operations

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Analysis of Berkeley's Consultation Decision

University News Editor Angelica Dongallo speaks to a reporter, Denise Poon, regarding the university's current decision to hire Bain & Company for consultation.


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The campus's recent $3 million decision to hire consulting firm Bain & Company to help assess operations has officially marked the beginning of its collaboration with the firm.

Bain was hired to advise the steering committee of Operational Excellence, an effort to comprehensively study the campus in order to reduce costs and streamline operations in the face of the campus's $150 million campus budget deficit this year.

The campus will pay Bain $1.5 million this fiscal year, and the other half next year out of savings officials hope to generate from the implementation of the firm's cost-cutting recommendations.

Bain has set up a team of five senior consultants from its San Francisco office to work with the steering committee, which is composed of UC Berkeley students, faculty, staff and alumni. Two additional Atlanta-based senior consultants who have direct experience with similar work done for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Cornell University will also be part of the team, though they will not be exclusively dedicated to the effort.

"The team brings a relevant set of capabilities and experiences," said Jeff Denneen, Bain partner and a member of the consulting team, in an e-mail. "A couple of team members are also UC Berkeley alumni, which is very helpful in keeping us fully aligned with the UC Berkeley culture and core mission."

However, this is not the first time that Bain has consulted for a UC campus.

In 1997, Bain was among several consulting firms who advised on a merger between UC San Francisco and Stanford University hospitals. The merger was initially considered beneficial but collapsed financially and was dissolved after two years.

Charles Schwartz, professor emeritus of physics known for monitoring the UC budget, said he is doubtful about the assistance Bain can offer the campus.

"Maybe the hiring of Bain & Company will allow some real scrutiny of bureaucratic excesses, but given past experience, I would say one should approach this with some skepticism," Schwartz said in an e-mail.

Chapel Hill and Cornell have already enlisted Bain to identify similar operational issues at their respective campuses, which according to UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Frank Yeary are "highly analogous" to the campus's own situation.

Yeary, who is leading the assessment efforts, said campus officials intend to draw from Chapel Hill's and Cornell's experiences to aid campus efforts.

According to Yeary, although Bain's contract officially began last week, the firm spent time on campus two weeks prior to get a "sense of the culture of Berkeley."

Since the announcement, Bain has met with a group of campus community members and is scheduling more meetings in the coming weeks, Yeary said.

He added that he and other campus officials are working to keep the assessment efforts transparent.

"We're committed to a process which is inclusive of the entire campus community, and we have already put in place a series of outreach efforts across the campus to gather information and get ideas," he said.

Tags: BAIN & COMPANY, OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE


Contact Denise Poon at [email protected]



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