Regents set vote date for business cases, IT talks green initiative

Danielle Ferguson

New systems and job descriptions could be seen in multiple departments at Iowa State if the Board of Regents votes to approve the efficiency study recommendations.

The board has set Nov. 14 as the voting date for each of the eight business cases Deloitte Consulting has recommended Iowa’s three public universities implement.

These cases are recommendations for the finance, human resources and information technology departments and how each can be more efficient to save time and money.

“As we look at the eight remaining business cases, it’s fair to say that some of these recommendations are very straightforward and refined and are suitable for implementation in the short term,” ISU President Steven Leath said at the October Board of Regents meeting. “At Iowa State, we’re going to dive right in and implement as many of these recommendations and cost savings as we can and as quickly as we can.”

Deloitte is suggesting parts of the finance and human resources departments move to a more central, university-based model, as opposed to having each college handle the processes separately. Department faculty and staff who perform these tasks often have other jobs within the department.

“This jack-of-all-trades model sometimes leaves staff feeling overwhelmed by the number of processes and policies they need to be proficient in,” said Deloitte consultant David Noone. “It also creates challenges for central administration.”

A central administration could also come with a decline in the number of employees needed in departments across the university.

Deloitte has said the employment numbers would decrease through natural attrition and phased retirement over time. The rates at which the numbers would decrease were calculated by each university’s existing trends, said Deloitte project manager Virginia Fraser.

Four of the eight business cases deal with informational technology at the universities, one of which is a print green initiative.

Deloitte suggested the universities cut back on local printer use because, as Deloitte’s IT lead Shomic Saha said at the last board meeting, “printer toner is the most expensive liquid you can buy.” As part of the print green initiative, the Deloitte team also suggested adding more network printers with double-sided printing. Almost 5,000 printers were found across the three universities.

More than 30,000 traditional desktops are in use across all three regent universities. Refreshing these desktops costs about $7 to $8 million each year. Deloitte suggested the universities use thin client devices, which are similar to desktops but are connected to one shared server rather than individual, to be more cost-effective in the long run.

Iowa State has about 1,000 thin client computers, and is working toward 2,500.

“The TIER study made it clear how important and efficient this could be. [Thin clients] are cheaper to purchase, to install and take up a lot less space,” Leath said.

Jim Davis, IT vice president and chief information officer, said having all the computers connected to one server could make security measures easier because IT would have only one server to watch.

Davis said the print green initiative could have multiple benefits.

“By having fewer printers, the printers would be more capable and be able to do things like print on both sides of the paper, which would be a big saving…reducing the number of sheets we print,” he said.

Davis said IT doesn’t have any implementation plans for any of the business cases. If any are approved, he said the department would go into more detail about how to implement.

He said he doesn’t know how suggested cases would affect employment numbers within the department because no implementation plans have been made.

The board is scheduled to vote on each case separately telephonicaly from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Nov. 14. The regents will decide how each case is implemented — by the universities, the board or outside source.

For more information about each business case, visit