OE office releases savings goals

Photo: Source: oe.berkeley.edu
Ashley Villanueva and Ashlyn Kong/Staff
Source: oe.berkeley.edu

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The Operational Excellence Program Office released totals Tuesday for the first time showing how much money was assigned to be cut from campus units last semester through controversial staff restructuring and layoffs, which exceeded original savings estimates.

The restructuring process - which will involve laying off 150 employees by the end of June - is currently expected to save $19.3 million, exceeding its goal of $18.3 million, according to a restructuring update published on the website for Operational Excellence, a cost-cutting project aimed at saving the campus $75 million annually. Plans have projected higher savings than expected because deans and vice chancellors were motivated to make deeper cuts in order to keep additional savings for research and teaching purposes.

After Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced in a Sept. 21 email that the campus would save $20 million annually under restructuring, the campus settled on the $18.3 million goal after calculating preliminary savings targets and assigning them to units in the fall, according to Bill Reichle, communications manager for the initiative.

The completed draft proposals of six other initiatives that are also working under Operational Excellence have been published online, but savings targets for the units under organizational simplification - which submitted their final plans to the executive committee for approval in early 2011 - were not published until this week, with campus officials citing concerns of worrying staff about the cuts.

The units will be able to keep 60 percent of the savings to be used at the unit leader's discretion and must return 40 percent to the central campus to combat budget woes, according to Reichle. Units that manage to exceed their savings goal may keep the extra savings.

The restructuring has resulted in a 65 percent reduction in the number of supervisors who managed three or fewer staff, as the number of supervisors has decreased from 1,450 to 1,080 - through layoffs, demotions or retirements - to increase the average number of employees per supervisor from five to seven, according to the update.

The chancellor and vice chancellor units project total savings of $12.4 million - above their original target of $11.9 million. The vice chancellor of administration and vice chancellor of student affairs' offices project the largest individual unit savings at $3.3 million and $3 million, respectively.

The schools and colleges exceeded their original overall target of saving $6.4 million with savings projections of $6.9 million, though some academic units, such as the Goldman School of Public Policy, fell below individual savings targets by as much as $160,000.

The College of Engineering, UC Berkeley School of Law and Haas School of Business are planning to cut over $1 million each, while the School of Information, School of Social Welfare and Goldman School of Public Policy have the smallest projected savings of the academic units, at $50,000 each.

According to Henry Brady, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy, the "initial conceptualization" of focusing on decreasing the number of employees per supervisor became especially challenging when looking at restructuring a small school.

"When push came to shove, the spans couldn't be increased to the level they wanted them to," he said. "If you're a small school, you need a set number of functions - you can't get one person who can do things across a whole set of different areas."


Alisha Azevedo covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected]

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