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The Three Most Important Things CSS Can Do to Reduce Faculty Concerns about Campus Shared Services

As we make clear in the accompanying letter, the Berkeley Faculty Association Board has many concerns about the planning of Campus Shared Service. Though all of our requests for additional information are extremely important to us, we recognize that you and the other leaders will find a summary useful. In the interest of clarifying what we see as our most important requests and hopes of making it easier for you and the other CSS leaders to respond in constructive and substantive ways, we spell out what we see as the three most important things you could do to reassure our members and the Berkeley faculty in general that the CSS initiative is on a positive track and capable of avoiding and solving problems effectively. We list these three priorities in order of increasing importance.

 

 

1)    Provide a report on the lessons learned from RES and ERSO, how you have integrated them into CSS, and the steps you have taken to deal with the fact that CSS is a much more complex and broad program than ERSO, which was designed to centralize services related only to research by engineers in the School of Engineering. Explain the specifics of the lessons you have learned from RES and ERSO as well as what you see as the unique challenges of CSS, and how you view your own strengths and limits.

  •       Justification: We would like to work constructively with CSS leaders. To do so we need to understand your processes better. Such a report would reassure us that CSS planners took the time not only to try to learn from the mistakes of RES and the comparative success of ERSO, but also to think through the complexities of designing and rolling out a multi-dimensional, shared services initiative that involves meeting the needs of faculty and staff in all of UC Berkeley’s many disciplines, departments, schools, institutes, programs, and centers, rather than those of a single school. If there is no such report, please acknowledge this and provide an explanation. As concerned participants trying to understand and provide useful input into your processes, we need this information.

 

 

2)    Provide detailed reports to UC Berkeley CSS stakeholders about CSS activities. The first report should explain CSS’s finances and activities during FYs 2010-11 and 2011-12 and its plans, projected costs, personnel cost savings goals, and efficiency improvement goals for FYs 2012-13 and 2013-14. It should include detailed, transparent explanations of the CSS financial model, the assumptions behind projected cost and savings estimates, the metrics by which CSS will measure changes in the efficiency of service delivery, and the methods by which dollar prices will be assigned to improvements and decreases in the efficiency of service delivery. It should also include an explanation of your plan to mitigate impacts on small and economically weak units.  This report should be modeled on reports that start-up firms provide their investors and the best practice annual reports issued by corporations and non profit organizations. In addition, commit to issuing equally detailed, professionally executed quarterly and annual reports that provide clear, detailed, transparent information regarding progress toward meeting CSS goals, problems, costs, savings, efficiency gains and losses and all other pertinent matters, using the metrics and methodologies described in the first report, or improved metrics and methodologies that you explain in detail.

  •       Justification: Such reporting is the norm in the business and non-profit worlds. It would give CSS leaders a way to demonstrate their professional organizational and reporting capacities and skills, while providing stakeholders with information that can help them monitor and assess CSS activities effectively. If properly constituted, these reports would help reassure faculty (and staff) that CSS leaders have not only thought through the particulars of a very complicated process and designed metrics and mechanisms, but are also leading this initiative in an open and transparent way.

 

 

3)    Establish one or more structurally independent Red Teams to search systematically for unexpected vulnerabilities, challenge unconscious assumptions and organizational biases, trouble shoot unanticipated problems, propose alternative approaches, and provide out-of-the-box insights to help improve CSS’s organizational effectiveness. Establish a high level CSS leadership commitment to take action avoid, mitigate, and/or solve the problems that the Red Team uncovers, even if this requires additional investments in time, energy, and resources.

  •       Justification: This would help reassure faculty (and staff) that CSS leaders recognize their own limits, understand the value of outside input, and are receptive to and willing to respond in positive ways to challenges intended to improve the CSS process. It would reassure our members that CSS leaders are committed to doing all that it takes to increase the likelihood that CSS will, in fact, improve the efficiency of service delivery, save the campus money on net, while minimizing harm to faculty, staff, and student interests.

 

 

 

 

Chris Rosen, Vice Chair of BFA, Haas School of Business, crosen@haas.berkeley.edu

Louise Fortmann, Chair BFA, Department of ESPM,  louisef@berkeley.edu

Gregory Levine, Department of the History of Art, gplevine@berkeley.edu

 

For the Berkeley Faculty Association Board

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