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UW contracts with consultant to study efficiency

March 23, 2011 By Stacy Forster

UW–Madison has signed a contract with Chicago-based Huron Consulting Group to examine the efficiency of the university.

The efficiency study will be a key part of UW–Madison’s strategy for managing a proposed $125 million cut in state funding. UW–Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin has said the university is expected to deal with the reduction through a combination of increased efficiencies, budget cuts and tuition increases.

“Having a third-party consultant assess how the university’s administrative functions are organized will help UW–Madison ensure that it continues to be as effective and efficient as possible,” says Vice Chancellor for Administration Darrell Bazzell.

Alice Gustafson of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Administration will serve as UW–Madison’s project manager, assisting Huron in data collection and analysis. Gustafson heads the Administrative Process Redesign project.

According to a statement of work between UW–Madison and Huron, the university will be seeking Huron’s assistance in identifying opportunities for the institution to be more effective, efficient and flexible, and helping UW–Madison develop the right organizational structures, business processes and staff competencies that allow it to carry out its core responsibilities in the most effective, efficient and flexible way possible.

UW–Madison has engaged with Huron for an initial review of potential efficiencies. Decisions about whether to continue to contract with Huron to implement the consultant’s recommendations will be made at a later date.

Areas of focus include the university’s administrative structure, accounting and financial reporting, human resources, facilities, construction management, information technology, internal auditing and budgeting, and procurement, among other areas.

To be sure that a broad range of stakeholders are being engaged, and to ensure that Huron is receiving a full perspective on UW–Madison’s organization and operations, three groups will advise the project.

  • A steering committee will include Martin, Provost Paul M. DeLuca Jr. and Bazzell, and will be responsible for overseeing the effort on behalf of UW–Madison. The group will meet with Huron every other week.
  • An advisory committee with representatives from shared governance and labor, as well as external stakeholders with private sector experience. This group will be responsible for offering perspectives that inform Huron’s analysis and vetting the consultants’ recommendations. The committee will meet monthly.
  • Faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders will work with Huron to collect data and work through potential solutions.

Huron is a leading provider of business consulting services to a variety of organizations, including leading academic institutions, health care providers, Fortune 500 companies and medium-sized businesses. It has worked with more than 25 major universities on large-scale redesign and efficiency efforts, including the University of California, Los Angeles, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Purdue University and Northwestern University.

Huron has also worked with UW–Madison on a number of projects related to grants management and biosafety.

Tags: budget