Firms selected to assist with regents efficiency review, Iowa State submits proposal


Kelby Wingert/Iowa State Daily

Iowa Regent Larry McKibben advocates for a third year of instate tuition freezes for the three public universities during the Regents meeting on Dec. 3 at the Alumni Center. The Board of Regents unanimously voted in favor of continuing the tuition freeze.

Danielle Ferguson

The Board of Regents has selected two consulting firms to help carry out potential cost-saving measures found from the first two phases of the efficiency study at Iowa’s three public universities.

The Board of Regents issued two Requests for Proposal in November for firms to assist with the implementation phase of the Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review, or TIER. The two firms selected are Huron Consulting and Chazey Partners, according to a board release.

Deloitte Consulting helped the board identify the 12 cost-saving measures in the areas of human resources, IT and Finance, but the board chose not to continue to use Deloitte in the implementation phase of the efficiency study. The board gave the universities the option to suggest their own implementation methods for the human resources, IT and finance cases. The board will use the universities’ implementation suggestions for those areas.

Huron Consulting Group was chosen to enact the sourcing and procurement business case, the goal of which was to look for ways to strengthen buying goods and services for the universities.

Chazey Partners will advise the universities during implementation and will also provide assistance when resources or deeper analysis is needed.

“The universities really stepped up to the plate and embraced the concept behind the need to transform and provided solid plans,” Regent Larry McKibben said in the release. “Chazey Partners experience with transformational projects such as these will lend great support to these efforts.”

Huron’s total professional fees for the Procurement Function Review and Strategic Sourcing Savings Validation will be $385,000. Total professional fees for implementation of strategies and actions will be final once reviews are completed and recommendations are assessed by the board, according to Huron’s 92 page proposal, though estimates in hourly rates range from $150 to $425, depending on the project function.

If the estimated hours and estimated hourly rates are used, Huron’s services could amount to $3.8 million, with one of the seven project functions not included in the total because the firm hadn’t determined hourly rate.

Total fees, including expenses, for Chazey Partners services are estimated to be $660,658 for the 12-week engagement period, according to Chazey’s 62 page proposal.

Details on Iowa State’s proposal can be found here.

Top priorities in the ISU proposal for human resources are making the payroll core system more efficient and accountable, a shared services model that improves efficient transaction processes and provides more support in hiring processes and an integrated campus human resources.

Iowa State’s IT proposal includes a six-step process to combat potential security breaches, though that wasn’t a main focus in the efficiency review.

Iowa State has a dispersed IT system, meaning different colleges and departments have separate IT centers. Part of the review would change that to a central system, which Lackey said may be helpful in increasing data security.

“A single security incident can cost millions of dollars, quickly negating any savings gained through efficiency efforts,” the proposal states. “In addition, given the national attention on the recent Sony data breach, we anticipate heightened data security requirements for research funding, especially subject matter that involves sensitive data or export control.”

The regents began the efficiency study in early 2014. The study, broken into three phases, aims to save the universities time and money by making processes in administrative and academic areas more efficient.

Deloitte found that universities could save between $30 million and $80 million.

Twelve proposals were found in the administrative areas in October 2014 and eight were chosen to implement in November.

The board is reviewing proposals submitted by consulting firms for the academic portion of the efficiency review. Finalists will meet with the board leadership, university provosts and faculty leaders from each campus during the week of Feb. 9. A firm will be selected by Feb. 13, with the review to begin in March, according to the release.