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UCOP to forgo budget increase for 2014-2015 fiscal year

By Alex Torpey

Jan. 28, 2014 1:04 a.m.

The University of California Office of the President will forgo a budget increase for the first time in five years as officials reconsider the office’s role within the UC system.

UC President Janet Napolitano said at a UC Board of Regents meeting Wednesday that she plans to keep the office’s budget from increasing in 2014-2015 in part by reducing its travel expenses by 10 percent, or about $900,000. The office will also cut up to 6.5 percent of funds for certain departments and cap the number of staff members at its current level.

“(We) will evaluate the appropriate size, shape and roles of the Office of the President,” Napolitano said at the regents meeting last week.Napolitano added that her office will evaluate departmental budgets by reviewing their efficiency and consulting with campuses about the types of services they will need going forward.

The overall budget will not shrink despite these reductions in spending because there will be required increases in pension, salary and health benefit costs, said Nathan Brostrom, UC executive vice president for business operations.

UCOP manages business and finances for the UC, sets policy for its laboratories and medical centers and handles external affairs on behalf of the UC system.

The office’s budget has grown by about $200 million over five years to $557.7 million in 2012-2013, with a dip in the depth of the recession, according to UC budget documents.

The office will re-evaluate which of its operations campuses could do on their own instead. In recent years, campuses have taken on tasks the UC office used to perform, like fundraising. The office will outsource certain programs to the campuses if possible to reduce its budget after a survey review of current operations, Brostrom said.

He added that UCOP’s largest cost saver will be a long-term ceiling to the number of staffers because most of its costs are in labor.

The office costs about $73.6 million to operate in 2012-2013, according to a UC budget document. Brostrom said there will be no growth in the number of staff members for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. Additionally, each department will have to make a more efficient staffing plan.

Under the new budget plan, paid consultants will have to be approved by officials, Brostrom said. The approval process is meant to curb the amount the office spends on consulting.

The office’s travel expenses will not require the same review process. Instead, the office would simply cut departments’ travel allowance to reduce its travel, Brostrom said.

When they travel, UCOP employees mostly visit UC campuses, and Brostrom said this should continue to be the case going forward. Travel to campuses is far less expensive than other trips office employees make to out-of-state conferences or to Washington D.C. for lobbying purposes, he added.

However, reducing the travel budget will not have as significant of an effect as the limit on personnel in reducing the discretionary budget as a whole, Brostrom said.

Napolitano said the cap on staff levels will be effective immediately.

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Alex Torpey
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