Yale evaluates business costs



The University is conducting a major review of its business practices to lower costs, improve service, and make better use of its staff’s time, Yale Vice President for Finance and Administration John Pepper said Friday.

Yale officials said at a Friday interview that the Administrative Services and Support Enhancement Team is working to coordinate a number of task forces and working groups that will focus on issues ranging from energy use to travel.

“We’re trying to make sure that we have appropriate funds for appropriate programmatic investments,” said University Deputy Provost for Biomedical and Health Affairs Stephanie Spangler, who is a member of the four-person ASSET core group.

Spangler said over the next few months, each of the working groups will determine target savings within their area of focus.

Currently, students do not serve on any of the task forces. Spangler said this does not mean that students cannot serve on the groups, and she said the various teams will be seeking input from student groups.

Students and other members of the University community can reach the ASSET team by phone, e-mail or online at its Web site at www.whynot.net/yale, Spangler said.

As part of this examination of Yale’s practices, Spangler said, the University is benchmarking its processes against businesses excelling at each task.

University officials said members of the Printing-Publishing Task Force are meeting with Xerox, and other Yale representatives visited Procter & Gamble to look at their travel system, which integrates booking, billing and other tasks. Pepper said University officials also recently traveled to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

At Friday’s meeting, Yale officials discussed six of the task forces and working groups.

Spangler said by the end of the semester, the Business Services Task Force will identify three administrative programs that are inefficient or burdensome and will spend the summer working on ways to improve them.

Yale Associate Vice President for Facilities Management John Bollier, who is another ASSET core group member, said the University could conservatively reduce its energy use and emissions by 4-5 percent each year and could reach 8-10 percent per year if they were more aggressive.

In one initiative, each building’s air handlers will be directly controlled by someone in that facility using a Web interface, Bollier said.

He said the Energy Conservation Task Force will also look into clean energy initiatives and ways to leverage the purchase of energy with other institutions.

Bollier serves as co-chairman of the Leased Space Working Group, which he said is determining how to better lease academic, administrative, clinical and residential property and manage vacancy rates. He said Yale spends $11 million on leased property annually.

University Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner, a member of the Procurement Working Group, said the group will examine Yale’s spending and try to make the purchasing process simpler.

“[But] you don’t want to standardize things to such an extent that a customer can’t buy what he or she wants,” Lindner said.

Association of Yale Alumni Executive Director Jeffrey Brenzel, who is the co-chairman of the Travel-Transportation Task Force, said his group will seek to improve the currently “cumbersome” travel booking process, use the University’s purchasing power to lower costs, and improve customer service. The task force is also investigating video conferencing as an option for reducing the need to travel.

One question, Brenzel said, is whether the Yale travel system will be extended to students. He said it would increase the University’s purchasing power but would be difficult to coordinate.

Lindner said another task force, focused on printing and publishing, is looking at why publications are made and how they are printed. This force will see how using technology can increase efficiency, she said.

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