Note: This CalMessage was sent on November 4, 2014
We write to you today about the recent change in leadership at Campus Shared Services (CSS), about the issues on which the new leadership is focusing to improve service to the campus, and about corresponding changes to the Operational Excellence Program Office (OEPO). As previously announced, Peggy Huston, formerly Director of the OEPO, is now serving as acting Chief Operating Officer of CSS. This comes at a time when the campus is experiencing difficulties with some of the services provided by the organization.
We are committed to continuous improvement to ensure the success of CSS. Here is how we assess matters at present:
CSS Business & Financial Services (B&FS)
We feel the greatest sense of urgency to make progress in Business and Financial Services, especially in reimbursements for travel and other expenses. There are too many cases where reimbursement paperwork is sent back for further work. The causes range from inadequate communication about the requirements for reimbursements, to insufficient training and decision rights for staff in CSS who handle such paperwork, or the lack of a finely judged balance between service and compliance. Be assured that we are well aware of these issues, and we’re directing CSS to bring maximal effort to bear to make the necessary changes and deliver better service.
CSS Research Administration (RA)
We understand that service delivery in Research Administration is an area of particular concern for our faculty. Making improvements in RA is one of our top priorities. RA for both pre-award and post-award work has now been consolidated in CSS, and we are moving towards establishing a single point of contact for faculty Principal Investigators (PIs). Additional research administrators have been hired, and effective training programs are in place and are being further developed to improve service delivery. In addition, we are off to a good start on the implementation of the liability policy. We expect to see further stabilization in RA, with diminished turnover of research administrators and adoption of best practices to improve service.
CSS Human Resources and Academic Personnel Support (HR/APS)
HR/APS is currently under some strain, given the demands placed on them by the campus’ UCOP-mandated move to biweekly pay for more than 10,000 non-exempt employees. In order to make this transition, the campus is implementing CalTime, a standard automated timekeeping system, and CSS-HR teams are well-trained and ready to assist with issues that will undoubtedly arise with this complex launch. HR/APS has been successful in identifying and improving service shortcomings (as in GSI/GSR and lecturer hiring, and faculty summer salary), and continues to build upon those gains. Once CalTime has been successfully launched, we expect this work will continue to stabilize.
CSS-Information Technology (IT)
From surveying workload and timeliness metrics, as well as anecdotal reports, the CSS-IT functions appear to be stabilized and performing as expected.
As we address these issues, it’s important to remember that CSS is still in implementation, with final units transitioning to CSS in February. CSS is also bringing together several outdated legacy systems, which vary significantly across units and can only be replaced and standardized over time. While it has been the most challenging Operational Excellence project to date, it also has the potential to be the most transformative. CSS is an important part of this great university. More than three quarters of CSS staff are people originally hired in departments, schools and colleges and they are working hard to serve the campus to the best of their ability.
It isn’t a surprise that such a big transformation may provoke some tension, and we appreciate your patience and willingness to work within the new structure. Your constructive feedback will continue to play a critical role as CSS continues to learn and grow. As part of the effort to become more service orientated, Peggy has launched a new email address (CSSCOO@berkeley.edu). We encourage you to send her your constructive feedback, which will be shared with the signatories of this message.
We’d like to thank Peggy Huston for taking on the leadership of CSS at this important moment. Under her leadership, CSS will focus ever more sharply on the quality of service provided to clients. As a result of Peggy’s transition to CSS, Bill Reichle and Halina Wojnicz will serve as acting co-directors of the Operational Excellence Program Office (OEPO). The important work of the OEPO will continue, both as a campus resource of expertise and financing for those interested in generating new revenue by initiatives they wish to champion, and also providing oversight to the remaining projects of the OE Program - where we are on track to meeting our savings goals of $75M per annum in administrative expenses.
We have come a long way in our collective effort to set up an effective shared services organization. We will continue to provide updates as CSS improves service delivery and customer service. We have some serious issues to overcome but, together with your support, we are certain we will be successful.
Nicholas Dirks, Chancellor
Claude Steele, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
John Wilton, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance
Andrew Szeri, Operational Excellence Program Faculty Head
November 5, 2014