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Monday, Nov 24, 2014

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University implementing non-personnel cost saving measures


Across Ohio University, departments are partnering to save money and jobs by participating in the development and implementation of non-personnel cost saving initiatives. This quarterly series will seek to update the campus community about these important efforts.

Copier management/print and paper reduction

This initiative is a collaborative effort between four departments: Procurement, Auxiliaries, Office of Information Technology (OIT) and the Office of Sustainability. It seeks to introduce a copier management program across the University to reduce costs associated with planning unit utilization of printers, copiers, faxes and scanners.

The initiative will increase efficiency, lower cost, and, ultimately, improve customer service through the standardization of equipment, utilization of multifunctional devices, and focus on actual costs per copy.  

Standardized functionality and user training will allow for efficiencies such as setting the printing default to a duplex or double-sided option to reduce paper consumption and solid waste University wide.

We are in the discovery phase of current equipment inventories on the Athens campus. Ultimately, this initiative is estimated to result in costs savings and avoidance of approximately $360,000.  Success will include lower greenhouse gas emissions, improved customer satisfaction, and an overall reduction in paper use and print counts.

Cell phone allowances and wireless Internet access allowance

Currently, some Ohio University employees receive an allowance to cover a monthly cell phone or Internet access bill. Beginning July 1, 2011, the University will no longer provide these allowances.

This initiative is being enacted, in part, because of the commonality of cell phones and Internet access. The University is also exploring other options for communication on campus such as radios.

Control workplace injuries and cost

In FY12, OHIO will establish a series of new policies and procedures designed to better control workplace injury and injury-related costs.

Currently the University spends more than $2 million per year on workplace injuries, and costs have been increasing. These policies will reduce costs, prevent injuries, and contribute to a healthier and happier workplace.

Space management

After salaries, space is the second-largest expense category for Ohio University. This initiative examines how space is used and how much space is needed.  

The team working on this initiative is in the first phase of developing  1) a template for space analysis, 2) an efficiency strategy to take a building offline, and 3) a strategy of concentrating evening and weekend activity in selected buildings.  By using space more efficiently, the University will save on maintenance and utility costs and be better able to address the most urgent deferred maintenance needs.  

Reduction of discretionary travel expenses

The University will review the current travel and entertainment policy in an effort to reduce costs through elimination of unnecessary travel and entertainment, identification of more cost effective travel options, and a more efficient reimbursement process. The University currently spends $14 million on travel and entertainment. This initiative will be ongoing and evaluated quarterly.

Fleet reduction

Transportation Services conducted a survey of University-owned vehicles in December 2010 to develop a strategy to reduce the fleet while continuing to satisfy the campus community's transportation needs.

To date, the fleet has been reduced by 30 vehicles and there are another 43 vehicles being assessed. It is estimated that the University will save $1,100 per vehicle. The initiative will be ongoing with regular, annual evaluations.

The University is exploring a variety of options to cope with the fleet reduction including departments sharing vehicles, repositioning motor pool assets in a more centralized area, or contracting with third party vendors like ZipCar and Connect when needed. Transportation Services is also working with units to purchase new cars with better fuel economy.  This initiative will result in cost savings and will have a positive environmental impact through the reduction of OHIO’s carbon footprint.

Holiday closure

During winter quarter, a work group looked into to the feasibility of closing Ohio University's Athens and regional campuses for five days between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. In light of the upcoming shift from quarters to semesters, the group recommended implementation in the 2012-2013 academic year.

The work group determined that to achieve the largest cost savings, 90 percent of the Athens campus buildings would need to enforce the lowering of temperatures to approximately 50 degrees and access should be restricted to those buildings. The work group recommendations have been submitted for review, but none has been officially approved. If the University were to shut down to a 10 percent capacity, the savings are estimated at approximately $83,000.

Ensuring all funds, including Ohio University Foundation funds, directly support the institution's core mission

Due to the difficult budget environment the university has been experiencing, units should use greater care when accessing Foundation funds. Units should ensure that funds are utilized for necessary expenditures in the interest of reducing dependency on the general fund.

Previously, efforts related to the use of Foundation funds have not been the focus of the University's budgeting process. The workgroup reviewing this proposed initiative will be drafting a process requiring a formal plan for the use of Foundation funds. The workgroup will be responsible for working with planning units to develop plans for the use of Foundation funds and monitoring adherence.

In all cases, units should be mindful of any donor intent that may govern the use of the funds.