Firm Finds Cost-Saving Options for UC Berkeley

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One month after the announcement that officially kicked off UC Berkeley's effort to increase operational efficiency, consulting firm Bain & Company has identified potential ways to reduce costs for the campus.

Representatives with Bain, the consulting company that was hired as part of Operational Excellence, have found some ways the campus can increase efficiency, including centralizing its payroll system for employees and improving procurement efforts, according to Claire Holmes, associate vice chancellor of public affairs.

Holmes said the firm's representatives have met with more than 300 campus community members as part of an initial diagnostic report about the campus expected to be completed by January.

Bain was hired by campus administrators in October to facilitate the campus's cost-cutting efforts. A steering committee made up of administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni is overseeing Operational Excellence.

According to Holmes, the time-reporting system that records the work hours of employees varies across departments and is among some of Bain's initial findings.

Eileen Bell, head of the molecular and cell biology department's Graduate Affairs Office and the chair of the Berkeley Staff Assembly-one of the groups that met with Bain-said that having a comprehensive time-

reporting system and standardized system for each department would reduce costs.

"We won't be spending dollars on (information technology) support department by department, for one thing," Bell said. "It would also allow us to not have to reinvent the wheel each time as a department moves to a more automated system, in some cases, they find a new system that works for them."

In addition, Holmes said that based on interviews conducted by Bain representatives, campus procurement practices-the ways the campus acquires goods and services-could also see improvements.

According to Miguel Daal, president of the Graduate Assembly and a member of the Operational Excellence steering committee, there may be some easy improvements that can be made in procurement.

"For example, Bain would recommend to standardize procurement practices, which might entail certain ways of buying things, like everyone buying the same kind of toilet paper," Daal said.

Holmes said that centralizing processes and reducing bureaucracy and redundancy for the campus is crucial to achieve better efficiency. She said that critical improvements could be made in the information technology area.

Since the announcement of Operational Excellence, two additional faculty members and one staff member have been appointed by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to the steering committee.

The new members are Catherine Wolfram, associate professor at the Haas School of Business, Carlos Bustamante, professor of molecular and cell biology and Roia Ferrazares, office manager of the College of Letters and Science dean's office.

Bain has also met with members of the ASUC, the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate and the Council of Deans, among other campus community members.

"The main point of our meeting has been, 'Is this exercise going to be affecting teaching and research?'" Daal said.

Bain is expected to meet with the ASUC and Graduate Assembly on Thursday to have a broader discussion with the delegates, Daal said.


Contact Paul Edison at [email protected]

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