The Administrative Services Task Force Group of LSU’s Transition Advisory Team met Monday, April 8, at the LSU AgCenter to further discuss safety opportunities and professional services contracts across the LSU System. The meeting was streamed live via the Internet for those who could not attend and meeting archives are available at www.lsu.edu/tat.
Lee Griffin, chair of the Finance & Revenue Subcommittee, welcomed the group and previewed upcoming discussions involving the task force members.
He kicked off the meeting by reminding the group of their charge, which is to focus on improving efficiency, identifying barriers and adopting service structures through analysis of internal university processes, external regulatory impediments, insurance and risk management, employee benefits and LA GRAD Act 2.0.
“We’re talking about reengineering the business process … it all has to be coordinated at some point,” said Bill Silvia, chair of the Technology & Operations Subcommittee.
Griffin updated the group on the formation of a procurement team and asked for members to participate or to nominate participants.
At the group’s last meeting on March 15, Mike Durham, director of Occupational and Environmental Safety at LSU, spoke about LSU’s safety and risk management processes. Today, the task force had a group discussion on LSU’s safety programs and looked at opportunities for improvements.
“It is an issue for every campus and certainly every campus has a safety program,” said Silvia, who added that there needs to be an on campus presence. “How do you centralize without being decentralized?”
The task force talked about instituting a safety culture for the university. This needs to come from top level administration to sustain a commitment to safety.
“If you can move it beyond just compliance and if you can make it a point of excellence, there’s an awful lot of benefit you can get from it,” said Brian Haymon of SGS Petroleum Service Corporation and an alumnus of LSU Law Center. “Safety can also be a vehicle to achieve a lot of other things that are consistent with the mission of this group, the task force and the Transition Advisory Team, if you are thinking about an improved university system.”
The group agreed that there are a number of businesses and industry locally who have expertise in the safety arena and in setting up safety procedures who could assist LSU in implementing its own safety programs.
“Right here in our own backyard is really world-class know how,” Haymon said.
In talking about safety, the task force also discussed insurance plans, workers compensation and the recording of injuries on campuses.
The task force followed with a group discussion on gathering information on professional services contracts and administrative services staffing. Professional services contracts are reported through the LSU System Office, so the group is going to look into those and see if reports can be generated and if there are opportunities to find efficiencies, receive discounts from common contractors or to find themes in the types of services each campus utilizes.
“Can we demand a lower rate because we’re using greater services? Are we buying the same service twice?” asked Donna Torres, LSU associate vice chancellor in accounting services and Staff Senate Executive Committee member at-large.
The group said there may be opportunities in service contracts in the areas of legal, accounting, banking, communications, marketing or software services.
Other opportunities that came up in the group discussion included what LA Grad Act 2.0 could mean for LSU if it could be utilized system-wide and the Board of Regents matching program.
Torres reminded the rest of the group that LSU has to be risk averse as it seeks to receive more autonomy. With each autonomy the university has sought out, the priority was to make sure LSU didn’t take on any more risk than had been previously accounted for by the state.
In looking at next steps for the Administrative Services Task Force, the group brought up the idea of a chief financial officer for the system and how that CFO could work with campus CFOs. During this discussion, Griffin stressed that it’s important to do what’s economical and financially best and that a reporting structure will develop from there.
Silvia reminded the group that CFOs are part of service units, and didn’t want to imply that if a central CFO is established that the CFO would be taking away authority from the campus decision makers.
In looking at other potential efficiencies, Torres said that to make centralization work, LSU would have to have one set of policies and procedures across the system. One efficiency that would develop is the ability for campuses to help each other if one member of a team would be on leave for an extended period of time.
“If we had similar operating policies, we could ‘plug and play,’” said Torres. “If the processes are the same, it’s easier to move someone to assist.”
Agendas for this and all LSU2015 sub-committee and task force group meetings can be found at http://www.lsu.edu/LSU2015/subcommittees_meeting_schedule.shtml. The names of Transition Advisory Team Sub-Committee members, along with Task Force Group members, are available at http://www.lsu.edu/LSU2015/subcommittees.shtml.
More information on LSU’s reorganization process can be found at www.lsu.edu/LSU2015. Information on the site includes meeting schedules, minutes and video and presentations from past meetings. Also, visit LSU’s reorganization Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LSU2015transition.