By Katie Quaranta
Ohio University now has a more streamlined and organized policy review process, thanks to recently approved changes to -- what else? -- a university policy.
Changes to Policy 01.001, "Preparation of Policies and Procedures," approved by President Roderick J. McDavis on Jan. 31, include an adjustment in how often university policies are reviewed and the addition of a way to fast-track the review of policies that require only minor alterations.
According to Richard Piccard, chair of the Policy and Procedure Review Committee, a policy may be able to go through the review process in a quarter of the normal time using this fast-track option.
"(We proposed the revisions) because we were seeing the frustration of people who had … very modest and minor changes that they couldn't get through the system in anything resembling a reasonable amount of time," he said.
The fast-track option is applicable when changes are not substantive or controversial, such as updating a Web link or providing a simple clarification, or when they must be moved through immediately to comply with a change in the law. The executive vice president and provost also has the power to approve a fast-track review regardless of whether proposed changes meet those criteria.
Mary Patacca, director of IT business process development and design, drafted much of the initial set of guidelines for the fast-track process. In her former position as director of procurement, she was in charge of writing or revising many policies and often found the process cumbersome.
"Some things are small and you don't want them to take months," she said. "I think that (this change) will speed it up when appropriate."
The standard review procedure, which also has undergone minor adjustments to improve efficiency, requires the policy initiator to submit proposed changes first to the people listed as reviewers on the policy and other interested parties. Once they agree on the changes, the initiator submits the policy to the executive vice president and provost, with a cover letter noting anyone who objected to the revisions. It then goes to the Executive Staff Officers Policy Review Subcommittee and, following its approval, to the Policy and Procedure Review Committee.
The fast-track review process saves time by allowing the initiator to send the revised policy to be reviewed by all parties simultaneously. All subsequent steps, including incorporating the revision on the university's policy and procedure Web site and getting the necessary approval signatures from the initiator, the executive vice president and provost, and the president, are the same for both review methods.
In addition to the creation of the fast-track process, the revised policy also modifies the rule that university policies have to undergo a full review every three years, specifying such a review every five years instead. A fast-track review will not count toward this requirement. Piccard noted that this is a more realistic timeframe and, combined with the more streamlined review process, he expects within the next several years to clear the current backlog of policies awaiting review. Significant progress in clearing the backlog has already been achieved this academic year.
"I really believe that we will see a modest increase in speed as a result of the changes," Piccard said. "It is a significant refinement of what we have been doing."