UCLA Today Staff
As part of UCLA’s ongoing response to the state budget crisis, Chancellor Albert Carnesale is calling upon departments to implement a variety of cost-saving measures intended to reduce administrative expenses across the campus.
The initiatives, which span the areas of human resources, procurement of goods and services, information technology and energy expenditures, are needed to help the university meet its budget requirements for the current fiscal year and the immediate future, Carnesale said.
“It is important for us to continue to observe fiscal prudence in all areas and to engage in as many proactive cost-reduction strategies as are feasible,” the chancellor said. “Due to changing circumstances, more stringent measures may be required before long.”
Most of the recommended efficiency measures will end up as permanent initiatives, said Steven A. Olsen, vice chancellor of finance and budget. “We know that the next two to three years will be difficult for the university, but these are the types of things you’d want to do in any case,” he said.
For example, UCLA leverages its purchasing power — $500 million annually in goods and services for the general campus — through “strategic sourcing contracts” with about 40 vendors that provide computers, office supplies, printing and the like. Departments are urged to use these vendors in order to achieve maximum economies.
Similarly, faculty and staff traveling on university business are asked to use airlines, rental car agencies and hotels with which the campus maintains contracts, and to obtain state contract airfares whenever possible. UCLA Travel Center, located in the Wilshire Center, is the only local agency authorized to book the discounted state fares.
With $46 million in gas and electricity costs in 2002-03 and $43 million in available funding, UCLA is experiencing a $3-million shortfall in its purchased utilities budget. So current energy-saving initiatives are being expanded. Options, such as lowering or turning off heating and air conditioning in non-laboratory buildings on weekends and holidays, are being explored.
Also being considered are ways to improve IT infrastructure and merging or sharing functions where feasible.
Several short-term measures are intended to reduce human-resource expenses while seeking to minimize staff layoffs. The current hiring freeze on non-faculty positions will be reinforced; when “clear business necessity” dictates that a non-faculty position be filled, according to Carnesale, “the campus practice will be to emphasize internal recruitment and promotion over external recruitment.”
In addition, UCLA will participate in UC’s START (Staff and Academic Reduction in Time) program, in which eligible employees, with their department head’s approval, can voluntarily reduce their appointment percentage — up to 50% time — while retaining most of their previous university benefits.
Carnesale is seeking campuswide input to expand the cost-saving initiatives already underway.
“I encourage the entire UCLA community to continue being creative in generating new ideas that will assist in dealing with what is almost certain to be a difficult budgetary environment for the foreseeable future,” he said.