Statement from UT Austin on the Exploration of Shared Services

In these days of dwindling higher education funding, we have to be responsible stewards of tax and tuition dollars. Consolidating administrative roles that are now spread across campus, and doing so largely through attrition, can help save $30 million to $40 million each year that can be spent on our educational mission.

No final plan has been approved. The first steps have been taken in the development of pilot programs, and we will look at what works well for our campus and our staff. The process has been transparent, measured and thoughtful and has included students, staffers and faculty members.

Background: For more than two decades, state support for The University of Texas at Austin has been in decline, shrinking from 47 percent of the university's budget in 1984-85 to 13 percent today. In response, a committee of 13 alumni and business leaders examined UT Austin's business functions in 2012 with the goal of increasing efficiency and productivity.

The committee issued recommendations in January 2013, including one to explore consolidating certain administrative functions in human resources, finance, procurement and information technology. A steering committee composed of UT faculty members, staffers and students was formed to study the "shared services" idea and determine whether the model was appropriate for campus.

Dialogue with students, staffers and faculty members: During the past year, more than 40 meetings have been held on campus, including three public town halls, to discuss how shared services could be implemented. There have also been more than 100 one-on-one meetings with subject experts and the collection of approximately 250 comments provided both in person and via email. A second discussion period will be held once the pilot programs are complete.

Pilot programs no final decision: Because of the campus dialogue, changes from the original recommendations were made and incorporated into the findings that were released by the Shared Services Steering Committee in March 2014. They called for further exploration of shared services via two insular pilots in the College of Education and the provost's office. The pilots will take place over the next year, during which time the university will baseline and capture quantitative and qualitative data that will then be shared with the campus during the second campus discussion period.

No privatization: All work and jobs through these proposals and pilot programs will be undertaken by UT Austin staff members. No privatization or outsourcing will occur.

Avoid layoffs: By reducing the number of administrative and IT positions by 500 through natural attrition and retirements over a long transition period, the university believes it can save $30 million to $40 million each year, which will be reinvested into teaching and research. The university maintains the goal of implementing the pilot programs with no layoffs related to them. Should the pilots meet their goals of maintained or improved service, increased job opportunities for staffers and reduced costs, campus-wide implementation may be explored, again relying on attrition and turnover.

Accenture: The university's contract with Accenture ended in February, and there is no ongoing relationship with the company on this issue. Accenture's staff has a very specific set of experience in higher education administration that was vital in developing the proposal to improve efficiency on campus. There are no plans to engage Accenture on this matter in the future.

The following is a list of groups that participated in shared services meetings and discussions:

Shared Services Groups Faculty, Staff, and Student Groups HR/Finance/Procurement/IT Administrative Groups
Shared Services Steering Committee Black Faculty and Staff Association Administrative Business Leaders (ABL)
Shared Services Volunteer Group Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) Administrative IT Leaders
Shared Services Workshop Participants Deans Council Architecture and Infrastructure Committee
UT Austin Campus Town Hall #1 Faculty Council Business Services Committee
UT Austin Campus Town Hall #2 Faculty Council - C-13 (IT Committee) College Business Advisors (TXADMIN)
UT Austin Pickle Research Campus Town Hall Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets HR Consortium
Staff Council Shared Services Working Group Graduate Student Assembly HR Spectrum
Harry Ransom Center iForty Administrator Group
President's Student Advisory Council (PSAC) ITS All-Hands Meeting
Senate of the College Councils ITS Applications All-Hands Meeting
Staff Council Operational IT Committee
Student Affairs Leadership Team Research and Education Committee
Student Government Strategic IT Accountability Board
University Budget Council Tech Deans
University Business Officers Council (UBOC) Town Meeting
Vice Presidents Council