Administrative Services Task Force Group Met March 15 at LSU AgCenter
BATON ROUGE – The Administrative Services Task Force Group of LSU’s Transition Advisory Team met on Friday, March 15, at the LSU AgCenter.
During the meeting, Mike Durham, director of Occupational and Environmental Safety at LSU, spoke to the group about LSU’s safety and risk management processes; and Donna Torres, LSU associate vice chancellor of accounting services, led a discussion on how the system could lower costs in accounting-related areas. During the meeting, Robert Newman, chairman of the Department of Economics and interim chair of the Department of Accounting at LSU, also discussed the process for faculty searches at LSU.
Durham’s presentation focused on the organization of LSU’s Environmental Health and Safety office. He provided the organizational alignment, major hazard areas on campus, chief responsibility areas, regulatory challenges, current issues of importance and potential efficiencies from consolidation or closer alignment of system units.
LSU’s Environmental Health and Safety office has the mission to support the teaching, learning and research activities of the university through promotion of a safe and healthy campus environment by providing guidance and coordinating programs and services that reduce the safety, environmental and regulatory risks to the LSU community. The office’s chief responsibility areas include safety, environmental compliance and occupational health.
Risk management is part of LA Grad Act 2.0, Durham said, adding that he hopes to have the application ready by the end of the year.
“I feel this will give us a great advantage in controlling our claims to our people in a more professional way, improve our productivity and, in general, improve our operation,” Durham said.
In her presentation, Torres reviewed information with the task force concerning what areas in administrative financial services could possibly be streamlined in order to save expenses. These included the areas of payroll, accounts payable, internal auditing and professional services.
In terms of payroll, Torres suggested possibly creating one centralized payroll operation for the system, as well as reducing or eliminating the practice of using paper checks and promoting more utilization of direct deposit payroll services.
“We already have centralization in the payroll system, but if we were to blend all payroll operations into a single system, we would also reduce the administration burden of reporting to retirement systems and state groups,” Torres said.
Suggestions for accounts payable changes include expanded use of the SciQuest e-procurement system and all campuses using the LaCarte procurement card program to pay vendors.
Consolidation of professional services contract was another option that Torres discussed with the group.
“If LSU looks after their business, there is a lot of savings there,” said Lee Griffin, co-chair of the Transition Advisory Team’s Finance and Revenue Subcommittee. “If you can save money as a system, regardless of the campus or graduation rates, it makes sense. We can put that money in the classroom and do a better job with recruiting, retention and graduation rates. There are wonderful opportunities there that might require legislative changes, but it makes so much sense.”
Newman led a discussion outlining the current recruiting and hiring strategy of the university and the process of receiving hiring authority.
“Talking in terms of streamlining operations, this is an excellent example of streamlining procedures,” he said.
The Administrative Services Task Force is focusing on improving efficiency, identifying barriers and adopting service structures through analysis of internal university processes, external regulatory impediments, insurance and risk management, employee benefits and LA GRAD Act 2.0.
Task Forces have been formed to focus on specific areas of priority in the realignment process. During these meetings, testimony is provided by national and local subject matter experts. Reports and findings are discussed and input from the public is heard. Information from the Task Force meetings will become part of a final report to be submitted to the Transition Advisory Team and ultimately to the LSU Board of Supervisors.
Online video streaming is available at http://www.lsu.edu/tat for all reorganization-related meetings for those who cannot attend in person.
The names of Transition Advisory Team Sub-Committee members, along with Task Force Group members, are available at http://www.lsu.edu/LSU2015/subcommittees.shtml.
More information on LSU’s reorganization process can be found at www.lsu.edu/LSU2015. Information on the site includes meeting schedules, minutes and video and presentations from past meetings. Also, visit LSU’s reorganization Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LSU2015transition.