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Stephen Golding

Stephen Golding

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OHIO cost-savings initiatives fall update

Progress and measurable gains seen across OHIO

Across Ohio University, small steps are making a big difference on the balance sheet.

In early 2011, the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Administration launched several cost-savings initiatives designed to reduce Ohio University’s operating costs, increase program effectiveness and improve customer service. This update is one in a quarterly series.

"The University can be well satisfied with our progress," said Stephen Golding, vice president of finance and administration. "There is more work to do, but across the board, each of these departmental initiatives has made good progress towards their goals. Academic and academic support units have been working closely together, and their movement forward has had the added benefit of streamlining services and improving quality and customer service."

He added, "In the end, we see the success of these measures contributing to our ability to save jobs."

To learn more about these initiatives and to see how far they have come in just a quarter, click here.

Copier management/print and paper reduction
Designed to reduce the costs associated with planning unit use of printers, copiers, faxes and scanners, as well as have a positive impact on the University’s environmental footprint, this initiative is on schedule and the transition is underway.

"We’re collaborating with the College of Business as our first and pilot academic unit partner," said Laura Nowicki, director of procurement services and initiative leader. "To keep the University informed, we’ve developed a 'Print Responsibly' micro-site which should be deployed as part of the vice president of finance and administration website this quarter."

The University selected ComDoc as their vendor partner in this initiative.

"We will continue work with ComDoc to transition departments, colleges and campuses throughout the year," said Nowiciki.

Cell phone allowances and wireless Internet access allowance
OHIO found significant savings by re-examining its cell phone and Internet bills. This initiative wrapped up July 1 and saved OHIO approximately $35,000.

Initiative leader Julie Allison, university controller, credits the entire university for the project’s success.

"Deans, directors and department heads greatly reduced requests for cell phone allowances," said Allison.

Allison went on to say that, a few allowances remain in place for individuals whose positions require them for safety or security.

Control workplace injuries and cost
Following an organization change and now in the planning phase, OHIO's effort to rein in workplace injuries and cost is on track and ahead of schedule.

Joe Adams, associate vice president for Environmental Health and Safety and initiative leader, detailed some of the progress.

"To improve alignment of our efforts, the Workers Compensation and Occupational Health functions have been reassigned to Risk Management and Safety," he said. "A new part time Occupational Health coordinator is in place." 

Additionally, the first meeting of the new Workers Compensation team was held in August.

Space management
Space is the second-largest expense category, after salaries, for Ohio University. Harry Wyatt, associate vice president for facilities and initiative leader, outlined some of the progress made in controlling these costs.

"The razing of the former Oasis building was the most visible points of progress for this initiative," said Wyatt. "We also developed and vetted an 'Additional Space Request Form' and protocols for Athens campus colleges and departments to use when requesting additional space whether its use of existing space, new construction, or lease of space. The form encourages colleges and division to think about repurposing existing space and to plan for increase operational costs if additional space is brought on-line."

Wyatt continued, "The University has also developed proposals that should result in reduction in space usage in specific areas over time. Many of these proposals and measures will be a part of our capital improvement plan."

Reduction of discretionary travel expenses
Individuals and departments usually handle travel arrangements, so, when it came time to develop a new, draft travel program this summer, initiative leader Allison went straight to the consumers.

"The first draft of the University's new travel program was developed by soliciting, collecting, and utilizing opinions of users on OHIO's travel program and policy," she said. "The result has been a draft that is on schedule and reflects the needs of the University."

Before a final draft of the travel policy is implemented, major constituent groups across campus will, once more, have the opportunity to review and comment.

Fleet reduction
OHIO has saved approximately $52,800 in annual cost by removing 48 vehicles from its fleet.

"This was our first fleet reduction in a long time," said Marty Paulins, director of transportation and parking services and initiative leader. "We cut the fleet by 13 percent, down from 370 vehicles."

Paulins went on to say that the reduction has lowered the cost of insurance, safety inspections and average maintenance.

Transportation Services released its annual report to the Department of Administrative Services on Sept. 15. Data from this report will produce new utilization numbers to be analyzed later this year.

Holiday closure
Based on the review of the Holiday Closure work group, a planned implementation for this cost-saving measure could be December 2012. The project's Steering Group responded back to the work group with several questions regarding their recommendations. It is expected that the requested feedback will be received this quarter and then the Steering Group will communicate directly with President Roderick J. McDavis.

Funds and foundation deployment review
The Division of Finance is reviewing all resources available to fund university activities. Over the summer, they conducted a thorough review of dormant foundation accounts, accounts that have not experienced spending in the last three years. The results of the dormant account analysis are being reviewed with planning units.

Furthermore, the division is working on the development of a budget template for FY2013 that includes budgeting the use of Ohio University Foundation funds.

Implement centralized procurement
According to Nowicki, initiative leader, OHIO is well on its way to turning its procurement facilities into a one-stop shop. Thus far, 13 planning units and have adopted Bobcat BUY, the University's portal to centralized procurement.

These planning units include the Office of the President, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, Office of the Vice President for Finance and Administration, Alden Library, Ohio University Chillicothe Campus, Ohio University Eastern Campus, eLearning, the Honors Tutorial College, Ohio University Lancaster Campus, the Office of Information Technology,  Ohio University Southern Campus, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, and Ohio University Zanesville Campus.

"Nearly 500 customers have been trained on the use of Bobcat BUY and nearly $9 million has been spent through it since March," said Nowicki.

Academic and academic support unit training will continue this quarter. Units to be trained and provided access to Bobcat BUY are the College of Arts and Sciences, Russ College of Engineering and the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.