Consultants say UC Berkeley could cut up to $75 million per year


By Matt Krupnick
Contra Costa Times

UC Berkeley could save millions per year by consolidating services and improving its purchasing decisions, according to a consulting firm hired to slim down the university’s budget.

The 200-page report released Monday by the university and the firm Bain & Company also noted that it could cost the university up to $75 million in one-time expenses to achieve savings that could reach $75 million per year by 2013. One-time expenses could include those associated with opening new offices or building more efficient energy systems on a campus that spends $35 million per year on energy.

The reforms likely would result in an undetermined number of layoffs on a campus that already has eliminated hundreds of jobs in the past two years. The school employs more than 21,000 people.

No mass layoffs are expected, said Vice Chancellor Frank Yeary, although “when 60 percent of your costs are personnel-related, we’re probably not going to achieve this level of savings with the same number of people.”

The study found that UC Berkeley offices often duplicate the same tasks and buy the same products from different vendors for different prices. Budget cuts since 1990 often have targeted the central administration, Yeary said, leaving more tasks to individual departments.

“We have to be responsible with every dollar we do have,” he said. “We’re acknowledging there are things we can do better.”

Research and teaching likely will not be affected by the streamlining, Yeary said. The 36,000-student university’s $1.8 billion budget was cut by $150 million last year.

University leaders plan to solicit comments from campus employees and students through April before deciding which steps to take, administrators said. The school spent Monday morning explaining the study to key lawmakers, including Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Canada Flintridge, who has taught at UC Berkeley.

Although the in-depth examination of the school’s budget could result in more cuts at Berkeley as services and departments are consolidated, more public agencies should conduct similar audits, said Liu, who is on the Senate Education Committee.

“You can look at this as a glass half-full or a glass half-empty,” she said. “I think it’s an important first step.”

Bain consultants have conducted similar studies at the University of North Carolina and Cornell University. UC Berkeley is paying the company $3 million plus expenses.

Read the full report at http://www.berkeley.edu/oe.

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