Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lessons in Efficiency

We can do it better!
Michael Meranze forwarded a commentary on UC Path, a new computer system that has been regularly touted at Regents meetings as one of the money-saving/increased efficiency initiatives that UC is undertaking.  All campuses are supposed to end up with a unified payroll system.  The item he forwarded is from the e-Literate blog and is actually inspired by an earlier piece by Chris Newfield. Anyway, here are some excerpts:

University of California’s $220 million payroll project reboot

Chris Newfield has an excellent post at Remaking the University about the University of California’s budget situation and how it relates to the recent Moody’s negative outlook on higher education finances. The whole article is worth reading, but one section jumped off the page for me...

The sadder example of ongoing debt is the request for “external financing for the UCPath project.” UC Path was UCOP’s flagship solution to UC inefficiencies that were allegedly wasting taxpayers’ money–in other words, new enterprise software for the systemwide consolidation of payroll and human resources functions. This is boring, important back office stuff, hardly good material for a political campaign to show the state “UC means business,” but that’s what it became. Rather than funding each campus’s decades-old effort to upgrade its systems on its own, UCOP sought centralization, which predictably introduced new levels of cost, complexity, and inefficiency, since centralization is often not actually efficient.

I had heard nothing good about UC Path from people trying to implement it on campuses, and have tried to ignore it, but this week it has resurfaced as a problem at the Regental level. The project timeline has grown from 48 to 72 months, and its costs are said to be $220 million (it had spent $131 million by May 2014) . Worse, the repayment schedule has mushroomed from seven to twenty years. ...

And it goes on with more good news.

The full e-Literate piece is at

The full Newfield piece is at

Efficiency schemes often don't work out as planned:


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