The Report from the California State Auditor (2002-110) on the Common Management System (CMS)

AS-2609-03/FA - May 6-7, 2003


RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate of the California State University (CSU) call upon the CSU to allow individual campuses to defer implementation of CMS applications where an existing 'legacy system' is operable until

  1. The recommendations of the March 2003 report of the California State Auditor (2002-110) are implemented by the CSU, and
  2. The creation of a business plan and accompanying cost-benefit analysis that compares costs, benefits and functionality of proceeding with the present CMS against a range of alternatives. Such alternatives would include campus adoptions of other systems so long as they deliver commonly required information; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU urge the Chancellor to direct those campuses that do not defer implementation to proceed in a cost-effective manner; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU urge that subsequent proposed Trustee Budgets specify funding requests for CMS expenditures so that they will not be funded via reallocation of resources intended for instruction; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU urge the Board of Trustees and the Chancellor-prior to embarking on new projects-to adhere to fundamental planning principles, articulated in the State Auditor's report, that would include (but may not be limited to) such matters as

  • Developing supplemental funding sources for new systemwide projects
  • Building in oversight mechanisms
  • Conducting thorough cost benefit analyses, sharing the results widely, and consulting with representatives of system constituencies
  • Building in mechanisms to detect and address conflicts of interests;

  • and be it further

RESOLVED: That copies of this resolution be sent to Chancellor Charles Reed; Executive Vice Chancellor Richard West; the CSU Board of Trustees, campus presidents, and campus senate chairs.

RATIONALE: Report #2002-110 of the California State Auditor, entitled "California State University: Its Common Management System Has Higher than Reported Costs, Less Than Optimal Functionality, and Questionable Procurement and Conflict-of-Interest Practices," released in March 2003, concludes that

  • The university did not establish a business case for CMS to define its intended benefits and associated costs and ensure that the expenditure of university resources is worthwhile
  • Problems exist that cast doubt on whether CMS will achieve all the objectives intended, or offer what could have been achieved from a systemwide project.
  • Although the university followed recommended procurement practices to acquire data center services, its procurements for software and consultants on the project raise questions about the fairness and competitiveness of the university's practices.
  • The university did not do enough to prevent or detect apparent conflicts of interest on CMS-related procurements (Audit Highlights).
CSU administration does not dispute the factual findings of the audit and has stated that it accepts almost all its recommendations. The conclusions of the audit were the subject of a hearing by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee on April 3, 2003, at which several prominent members of the Legislature, Democrats and Republicans, strongly criticized CSU administration for its handling of this project and at which the Chancellor indicated willingness to develop a business plan for CMS.

From the time when CMS was first proposed, faculty leaders-including the California Faculty Association and the Academic Senate CSU-have cautioned the Chancellor's Office that the project was too costly and should be funded outside of the general University budget. In addition, both faculty and staff on many CSU campuses expressed strong reservations about the viability of the CMS system. These problems are now exacerbated by the state's budget crisis, which has severely limited state funding for the CSU and threatens the University's ability to maintain high-quality academic programs. In this context it is essential that all available funding be directed to the core mission-instruction of students-and that implementation of CMS be suspended in accordance with the conditions defined in this resolution. It is also appropriate that administrators responsible for what the auditor's report characterizes as flawed decision-making, haphazard business strategies, breaches of ethical conduct, and potential financial waste documented in the audit be held accountable.


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