University Statements


Provost announces formation of office to oversee administrative cost savings

Dec. 16, 2009

To help ensure the success of the University's budget reduction effort going forward, President David Skorton and I have created a Program Management Office (PMO) to coordinate, track and monitor the implementation of at least $90 million in annual administrative cost savings. The PMO will have the responsibility for keeping the process focused and on track.

We are very pleased to announce that this new office will be under the direction of Paul Streeter, our associate vice president for planning and budget, who has spent the past year ably and creatively helping the university weather unprecedented economic challenges. It is important that this crucial initiative be guided by someone with Paul's stature and institutional knowledge.

The PMO will serve as the umbrella office coordinating and supporting the work of teams of key personnel from across the campus who will focus on achieving cost savings in already identified areas: procurement; energy conservation; information technology; facilities; finance; human resources; and communications. The effort will also include an overall review of how support activities are organized, managed and supported across campus operating units, with the goal of achieving cost savings through greater integration and efficiencies in the management and delivery of those activities. The initiative teams in each area will be led and managed by top administrators, including deans, vice presidents and senior administrators, who will solicit input from the stakeholders in those areas.

President Skorton and I will head a steering committee that will track the PMO's progress, and we will have final decision-making responsibility regarding the strategies and action plans recommended by each team.

The teams coordinated by the PMO will conduct detailed analyses to validate identified savings targets for their areas and then create detailed work and implementation plans to meet those targets. Paul will coordinate efforts across the areas and support the work of the teams.

As we announced earlier this fall, nonpersonnel savings will account for a substantial portion of the $90 million target, with much of that coming from a more cohesive and effective procurement process. But the remainder will have to come from reductions in personnel over the next five years. We have made it clear that decisions on personnel actions, including attrition and layoffs, will be sensitively carried out and will not be made until planning efforts are complete for maximizing the amount of non-personnel savings that can be achieved.

Had the university not taken any action since the 2008 economic downturn, we project the annual budget deficit would have risen to $215 million. Several actions this past year, from a 5 percent campuswide budget reduction in fiscal year 2009-10 to a staff retirement incentive program through which 432 of our longest-serving employees retired, have reduced the projected annual deficit to approximately $135 million. The current administrative cost savings initiative is expected to achieve at least $90 million in additional annual savings.

Please see more information about the PMO and the leadership of the initiative teams at www.cornell.edu/reimagining/pmo.cfm.

Provost Kent Fuchs