Iowa Board of Regents

Efficiency study estimates $30 - $80 million in annual savings, reinvestment at Iowa's public universities

June 16, 2014

The initial phase of the most comprehensive efficiency study conducted in 25 years estimates tens of millions of dollars can be saved and reinvested annually at Iowa’s three public universities. At a town hall meeting on the University of Northern Iowa campus, officials with Deloitte Consulting presented findings from Phase 1 of an eight-month efficiency study that began in March and is known as the Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review or TIER program. The Deloitte preliminary estimates show the potential of $30 million to $80 million in annual savings, through the implementation of improved efficiencies and effectiveness measures, at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and UNI.

"With the potential savings already identified, we will have the opportunity to strengthen and transform our three universities by reinvesting tens of millions of dollars into our programs, our campuses and, most important, our students." said Larry McKibben, Board of Regent member and TIER committee chairman. "While we are still in the early stages of this study, it’s clear that we are proceeding in a direction to better evaluate our processes and determine ways to operate more effectively and efficiently, and in a sustainable manner, on each campus and throughout the university-system.

"The update released today by Deloitte Consulting includes the findings of Phase 1 of the TIER program and identifies preliminary savings opportunities across 12 administrative business cases – five academic business cases will be reviewed in Phase 2 of TIER when it begins in September.

"Because of the detailed assessments and evaluations conducted in Phase 1 of this study, I’m confident we will see additional opportunities for reinvestment in our three universities that go beyond the significant savings already identified, said Bruce Rastetter, president of the Board of Regents. "As prudent stewards of public money, we have a responsibility to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible – to be mindful of our costs and open-minded about change – this study allows us to fulfill that obligation.

"Today’s Phase 1 TIER update also outlined several strengths and challenges that emerged during the comprehensive on-campus interview process earlier this spring. Strengths include dedicated and talented faculty and staff; highly engaged, motivated students; clear focus on the mission of each institution and a strong desire to use resources effectively.

Challenges identified in the update include limited cross-university collaboration; many siloes within and across universities leading to duplication of roles, services and programs and a high degree of complexity across functions, resulting in inefficient processes that cause time delays and frustration.

The Iowa Board of Regents and the state’s three public universities began working with Deloitte Consulting this March as part of the Rising to the Next Tier (Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review) program. TIER is a review of the academic and administrative areas across ISU, UNI and UI, as well as the Regent system as a whole. The goal of TIER is to transform Iowa’s public universities so they are sustainable and true to their core academic missions of education, research and service as well as learning, discovery and engagement.

Phase 1 of the TIER project included a broad review to identify preliminary opportunities to reduce costs, increase review or improve service or outcomes. During the 10 weeks of Phase 1, Deloitte visited each campus twice, conducted more than 390 interview sessions and focus groups and met with nearly 700 individuals across the three universities and the Board of Regents office.

Additionally, Deloitte along with the Board’s subcommittee representatives, conducted Town Hall meetings at each campus to provide a forum for all community members to express ideas and ask questions. From all of these sources, Deloitte reviewed the information available and compared current practices and approaches to industry best practices to identify key themes and potential improvement opportunities.

In addition to meeting with many people and conducting interviews, Deloitte also performed analysis using the data collected from each university. This will help assure people the analysis is objective and also that Deloitte used the data that university stakeholders worked hard to gather.

As you will see in the report being released today, there are not only cost savings ideas, but revenue opportunities, and even more opportunities to improve effectiveness. "Many of these ideas were suggested by the people we interacted with," said Rick Ferraro with Deloitte. "Together these ideas form the foundation for an exciting opportunity to operate and compete even more effectively in the higher education marketplace. We look forward to working on the next phase to develop more concrete analysis and plans."

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