Iowa regents choose consultant for efficiency review, spend $2.5 million

Study seeks to identify ways to maximize scarce resources, find new efficiencies, seek out collaboration

Vanessa Miller
Published: February 11 2014 | 5:23 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:31 am in

At an initial cost of $2.5 million, the Iowa Board of Regents on Tuesday agreed to hire the global consulting firm Deloitte LLP to help find efficiencies and save resources at the state’s public universities.

Deloitte, which has three offices in Iowa including ones in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, was among 10 companies to submit proposals for the job after the Board of Regents announced plans to address the issue of efficiency and set the scope for an “efficiency and transformation review study.”

The goal of the study is to identify ways to maximize scarce resources, find new efficiencies and seek out collaborations at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. With the help of an outside consultant, a regent-appointed committee will look at the three universities as separate entities and as one operating system.

During a telephonic board meeting Tuesday, regent Larry McKibben said the hope behind using a consultant is to get back – in the form of new efficiencies – six to 10 times what they spend.

“That is the goal,” McKibben said.

Deloitte won the initial $2.5 million contract because its team “demonstrated a strong commitment and shared vision for the success of the regents in this process,” McKibben said. The firm also was chosen for its experience and “long history of delivering tangible results.”

The process will move ahead in four stages, according to McKibben.

First is the planning phase, where the consultant will help refine a vision for the review and name priorities for the efficiency study. Second will come the “diagnostic and benchmarking” stage that will involve compiling a list of opportunities for increased efficiency.

The third phase will involve the development of an operating model. And a final stage will involve implementation – although McKibben said this initial $2.5 million contract does not include that last stage.

“We will see where this thing takes us … and determine where we are going and what the order of importance is and how we are going to structure the implementation,” he said.

The implementation portion probably will not begin until fall, according to McKibben.

The last thorough examination of functions at the regent universities was a $1.2 million efficiency audit done in 1989. That audit covered 33 areas – from bookkeeping to academic duplication among the three schools – and it resulted in programmatic cuts at the institutions.

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