CSU Budget Office

Frequently Asked Questions: Operational Efficiencies

Calendar

Would switching quarter campuses to the semester calendar save money and has any consideration been given to this idea?
This is an idea that is actively under consideration at the six quarter campuses. We are currently assessing the potential savings and anticipated benefits to students.

Could we close campuses during summer months and save money through salary savings and energy savings?
In addition to summer courses, campuses are actually rather heavily used during the summer for camps and other special activities, many of which bring in revenue for the campus. Those quiet times give facilities staff an opportunity to take care of needed repairs and other staff to prepare for the upcoming academic year, including making evaluations and dispersal of financial aid.

Would a modification of campus calendars save any money? For example, rotation of which campuses in a geographical area are open for summer or winter?
To date, this concept has not been explored but it is an idea worthy of further evaluation.

Duplication of Services

The CSU should consolidate services that are duplicated across the system or consider eliminating or outsourcing functions/activities that are not core to the central mission of the institution.
Currently, we are evaluating the feasibility and potential cost savings that might result from consolidating procurement and accounts payable (AP) functions into shared service centers. The model for evaluating the cost-benefit may be transferrable to other functions, such as IT or police dispatch, which will be considered after the review of AP and procurement. Last year, the chancellor's office partnered with the Long Beach campus to consolidate payroll and benefits services; this project is expected to save several hundred thousand dollars a year.

Economies of Scale

Can the CSU better exploit economies of scale?
This is currently being done in some parts of the organization, for example the systemwide contract store has negotiated agreements with vendors for a variety of services or products that are available to any campus; and the chancellor's office purchases many library resources that are then shared with the campuses. More can always be done and different parts of the organization continue to look for and consider additional ways to exploit our size.

Equipment

The CSU should consider limiting computing devices to one per employee?
The number of devices is determined by the work related needs of the employee.

Would requiring everyone to shut off all computers at the end of the day save electricity?
This would likely be a small savings, but many small items an add up and systemwide could make a difference. Many of the campuses use the off hours to backup employees’ computers to campus managed storage devices. Also, many campuses already utilize power management practices to reduce the electrical consumption of computers during the off hours—a practice that allows a computer to be powered on for certain activities (e.g., backups) and powered down for energy reduction.

Expertise

What about the use of in-house experts versus consultants?
When special expertise is needed the chancellor's Office may seek the assistance of external consultants. The cost and use of outside consultants is carefully reviewed.

The CSU should use its own faculty who are experienced with using technology to find ways to cut the costs of instruction.
There are currently multiple examples of such efforts, some of which can be found at als.csuprojects.org.

There have been a number of reports on the millions spent on external consultants for the Chancellor's Office;  why aren't the in-house experts sufficient?  Can't we get rid of one set or the other, to reduce costs?  This is both a political and economic opportunity.
When special expertise is needed the chancellor's Office may seek the assistance of external consultants. The cost and use of outside consultants is carefully reviewed.

Functions

Could campuses share certain administration functions, such as presidents, vice presidents, deans, associate/assistant vice presidents?
We are examining all options for efficiency and cost savings. In this case the examination is for necessary functions rather than positions. Additionally, we are reviewing the results of such function consolidation that have been implemented in other universities across the nation.

Other

What is done to ensure campus services are competitive in their offerings?
Large contracts normally result in an RFP (request for proposal).

Partnerships

Can Human Resources create a formal mechanism so campuses can partner with each other to develop solutions for common needs?
Systemwide Human Resources is committed to working with campus human resources offices to identify areas where common solutions are appropriate. As we proceed with development of the Common Human Resources System, this project should facilitate the identification of opportunities for common solutions.

Policy Suspension

Could the chancellor's office consider temporarily suspending some policies or evaluate the necessity of maintaining some policies that have been in place for many years?
We will review existing policies with an eye toward partial or temporary lifting of requirements and providing greater flexibility in campus operations.

Shared Services

What are the key indicators used in the cost-benefit analysis?
The issues related to shared services are being explored by the Common Financial Systems Steering Committee, which will complete its analysis by December 2012.

Are the following issues being taken into consideration in the evaluation of a shared services model for AP and procurement: impact on labor agreements, standardization vs. campus flexibility, location(s), risk assessment and accountability, costs and customer service impacts?
All of the issues or concerns that have been raised about a shared service model are elements of the cost-benefit analysis that is part of the evaluation. Elements to be considered include campus costs, risk assessment, customer service to campus clients and vendors, etc. In addition, preliminary conversations over the potential impacts of shared services to employees have begun with staff unions. Because no decisions have made, these conversations have, of necessity, been of a very global nature.

Why are these departments not required return that unused budget money to the general fund to use for the following year. Just spending all of your budget whether you need to or not is ludicrous.
Funds may be encumbered for use in the following year.