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UC Efficiency Efforts Yield $664 Million Over Four Years

November 20, 2014
The University of California has saved and generated $664 million through efficiency efforts over the past four years, and passed most of that money to campuses to pay for academics and research, the university’s core missions.
Through a series of initiatives and programs including transforming procurement methods and increasing the efficiency of UC’s travel practices, the university’s Working Smarter initiative has realized $426 million in cost savings and $238 million in fresh revenue since the program launched four years ago.
The initiative, now in its fifth year, has already exceeded its initial target, which was to generate $500 million in positive fiscal impact in five years in order to redirect money to UC’s core missions. In the coming year, Working Smarter will seek to increase administrative gains by involving staff members across the university in smaller-scale efforts that can produce results more quickly. These efforts can do a lot to help make the day-to-day business of UC run faster and more efficiently for students, faculty and staff.
The Working Smarter initiative is a key part of the university’s plan to address about one third of its budget gap through a combination of administrative efficiencies, cost savings and new alternative revenues.
“Working Smarter is an essential program for the university,” said Nathan Brostrom, UC chief financial officer. “As a public institution we have an obligation to do everything we can to make UC operations as efficient and cost effective as they can be, which is especially important given the decline in state funding we’ve experienced over the years.”
Brostrom discussed Working Smarter’s progress at the Board of Regents meeting Wednesday, Nov. 19.
In its fourth year, Working Smarter produced $203 million in administrative efficiencies from nine different projects, the most successful year so far for the initiative. Successes included procurement changes that generated $124 million in savings, a purchase-card program for procurement that saved more than $7 million and an equipment maintenance insurance program that produced more than $851,000 in savings, among others.
The initiative’s prospects are good, said Cathy O’Sullivan, director of Working Smarter, who noted that about a third of its ongoing projects are still ramping up and are expected to produce additional financial gains in the years ahead.
“Working Smarter has come a long way, but there is still a lot of work to do and plenty of ways to increase the university’s efficiency,” O’Sullivan said.
UC is also working with its counterparts in California higher education to find ways to boost efficiency. Partnering with the California State University and California Community Colleges, UC seeks areas where services can be shared and operational effectiveness can be improved.