There are, of course, some commendable ideas in the report, for instance when it comes to energy savings (yes, it's a good idea to turn off the lights when you leave your office). But the rest of the recommendations are informed by just two principles: centralize and standardize. The distributed nature of many services at UCB, along with the diversification it entails, are identified as cost sources. The proposed solution is to centralize as much as possible the delivery of services, not just to achieve economies of scale but also to bring about increased efficiencies when the units reach a given critical mass – the appropriate size (measured in FTEs) to allow for a more rational allocation of tasks.
The report addresses several areas:
- Organizational simplification (including HR, Finance)
- Energy management
- Student services
- Space management
The main thrust of the report seems to be that about $100M of potential savings can be achieved by reducing diversification in the delivery of services, downsizing and re-organizing lower-level staff, and centralizing many functions. (I also could not help noticing how the report makes no mention of the extravagant expenses incurred by the supposedly self-sufficient UCB Athletics department, which, have been consistently backfilled with campus funds for many years.)
It is also important to take notice not just of the substance of the recommendations, but also the manner of their implementation. Bain envisages these changes to be brought about in a completely top-down manner (the word they use, of course, is "cascaded"), with no participation by the staff and faculty that would bear the brunt of these measures.
And all this, of course, cost Berkeley about three million dollars. I am sure many of our own faculty at business schools across the system could have come up with better solutions for a lot less.