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Texas A&M System chancellor orders audits to identify savings - The Eagle: News

Texas A&M System chancellor orders audits to identify savings

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Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013 12:00 am

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series of stories looking at the state of finances within the Texas A&M University System, including examinations of information technology, communication and Easterwood Airport operations, along with the overall fiscal outlook for the system. This story looks at the planned administrative reviews. Upcoming stories will examine the ongoing audit of the system's information technology departments and communications personnel, as well as recommended projects that are likely to generate revenue.

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, who presided over the largest outsourcing of services ever at a public university, is now heading up moves to examine information technology, communications, airport operations and every single administrative position in the system.

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  • FromAfar posted at 6:07 pm on Sun, Jul 28, 2013.

    FromAfar Posts: 477


  • Tenaja posted at 4:52 pm on Sat, Jul 27, 2013.

    Tenaja Posts: 25

    I am curious why this news is coming through The Eagle, handfed I am sure, rather than an informative letter to all Texas A&M employees from TAMU System describing the actions being taken, the reasons why and a timeline. Communications 101, folks.

    But such an action would take integrity, so I guess I answered my own question.

  • FromAfar posted at 2:01 pm on Sat, Jul 27, 2013.

    FromAfar Posts: 477

    Umm. The third category is service, which includes extension but also many other activities.

  • Howdy-365 posted at 4:02 pm on Fri, Jul 26, 2013.

    Howdy-365 Posts: 1

    Any report of where the money is coming from for the assessments? Too, I'm staff and am seeing a definite decline in quality due to the outsourcing. Fewer custodial staff so they can meet that company's own fiscal needs which means less quality. My office hasn't been cleaned in weeks if not months, though the custodial staff is always pleasant and working like crazy!

  • Bignose1 posted at 9:40 am on Tue, Jul 23, 2013.

    Bignose1 Posts: 5

    Those November votes have far reaching consequences, don't they? When you put idiots in position to appoint their minions to enforce their idiotic policies, the "People" usually get screwed. How many will remember that in 2014 when a certain idiot's hand picked successor is on the ballot? I'm guessing not many! As Einstein said, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." 10 to 1 says 80% opposed to these kind of actions will still be voting for republicans in the upcoming elections!

  • citizen1 posted at 7:12 am on Tue, Jul 23, 2013.

    citizen1 Posts: 256

    Sharp should check out that billion dollar football stadium.

  • elf posted at 10:18 pm on Mon, Jul 22, 2013.

    elf Posts: 1594

    As a faculty member, I am tired of being jacked around by Sharp, Perry and his minions. I have been thinking of ways to discourage these attacks on Texas A&M. If you are considering gifts to benefit education, can you really trust these guys to apply your gift to education of students? I do not feel Perry's cronies can be trusted with anything. I have decided to make future gifts to an organization whose sole intention is to benefit students. The address and contact of one such organization follows: This foundation supplies scholarships to Cherokee students at any university, including Texas A&M. There are several other places to bestow gifts that are beyond the clutches of Perry and friends..

    The Cherokee Nation Foundation
    115 East Delaware
    Tahlequah OK 74451
    (918) 207 0950

  • _kickasstimus_ posted at 1:31 pm on Mon, Jul 22, 2013.

    _kickasstimus_ Posts: 1

    What, exactly, are we saving for?

    My taxes have never gone down. The roads are in no better shape than at any other time. Tuition is at an all time high. Services at the university have diminished and all of the staff members feel like they are in jeopardy of losing their jobs at Sharp's whim. Morale is at an all time low.

    Where will the saved money go? In to what? Faculty raises? Because associate deans have such a hard time getting by on $150k/yr. He carefully exempted faculty from this you'll notice.

    Efficiency shouldn't be a goal in and of itself. I can make a workplace terribly efficient but I'd never be able to keep any good employees to do the job. That's where Sharp is taking us.

  • cassiusmaximusxl posted at 9:24 am on Mon, Jul 22, 2013.

    cassiusmaximusxl Posts: 1

    Speaking as a taxpayer, I want to know why a private corporations employees are still driving vehicles owned and licensed to the state of Texas? shouldnt they be paying registration fees to help keep up the roads? Sharp is destroying the University. I know of many staff who no longer help with special events or the like. they feel like they have been kicked from the aggie family and rightfully so. They understand that while the university is saving 10 dollars by outsourcing them, the outgoing dean of engineering was paid over 1 million dollars to leave. I can understand a signing bonus, but paying someone to retire? really? He was very well paid while he was here, has a wonderful retirement account, and has to be bribed to leave.

  • texasamgal posted at 8:55 am on Mon, Jul 22, 2013.

    texasamgal Posts: 1

    John Sharp is a bit of a tool. his 'good old boy, I'm cool" demeanor is really off putting. as long as TAMU keeps the Perry cronies in charge, this university will keep going down. I'm familiar with outsourcing and have seen it implemented at jobs I've had (I've never been affected, however) and can somewhat understand in terms of fiscal issues, but it's out of control now and will really hurt TAMU in the long run. God help us if and when Perry decides he wants to be Chancellor and/or President of TAMU. God help us. :(

  • concernedag posted at 8:38 am on Mon, Jul 22, 2013.

    concernedag Posts: 1

    Maybe just a small point in this discussion, but very concerning all the same: I find it very strange that the Chancellor of the System repeatedly refers to "teaching and research" as the essential missions of the University. As a land-grant university, Texas A&M has _three_ essential missions: teaching, research, and extension!

  • Aggieprof posted at 8:07 am on Mon, Jul 22, 2013.

    Aggieprof Posts: 137

    I think the public, the students, and the employees (faculty and staff) should through their representatives insist that the privatization, "accomplished" so far, to be evaluated independently, before we even think to go further. It should be asked what were the real (and not projected) savings, what were the costs (not only to the system, but also to the single units!), what went well and what didn't.

    I think the results will show that it was a disaster....

  • Annie posted at 10:20 pm on Sun, Jul 21, 2013.

    Annie Posts: 8

    This whole article just makes me sad. I spent 30 years of my life working hard as a member of the academic staff at A&M. I felt that what I was doing was important to the morale and well being of faculty and consequently students. Especially during the early years, I felt valued by the administration and a member of the "team". A&M was like a big family earlier. Many people worked for fairly low wages because they thought that what they were doing was important and valued. As I said, I'm just sad that Chancellor Sharp, the BOR and others are doing their best to turn A&M into just another big corporation. Football is way more important to the powers that be at A&M than are faculty and staff.

  • master of disaster posted at 10:04 pm on Sun, Jul 21, 2013.

    master of disaster Posts: 531

    If you've ever heard Sharp speak to faculty, it becomes very clear that he holds all of them in very low esteem. He appears to be completely incapable of respect, as though he could single handedly replace faculty with robots with no consequence to Texas A&M's academic reputation.

  • roy g posted at 8:07 pm on Sun, Jul 21, 2013.

    roy g Posts: 868

    Is there such a thing as a DINO - Democrat In Name Only? How in the world is Sharp still calling himself a Democrat when his austerity measures reek of Tea Party conservatism? Note, this is not typical Republican conservatism I speak of, but absolutist Tea Party conservatism that discounts the human factor, the human psyche, the invisible sense of bonding that ties people to organizations and each other, in favor of the bottom line. People are not machines, not inanimate "resources" to be acquired or disposed of as one might a box of paper or tray of tools.

  • because posted at 5:10 pm on Sun, Jul 21, 2013.

    because Posts: 331

    Something tells me that in a not-so-far-future we will think of today as the "good old days"....

  • techag posted at 3:16 pm on Sun, Jul 21, 2013.

    techag Posts: 203

    I wasn't replying to you. I'm TAMU staff.

  • posted at 12:47 pm on Sun, Jul 21, 2013.


    If your reply was to my post, you missed my one gets to do any quality teaching or research unless the staff is happy, motivated and doing their jobs....Of course teachers are important, albeit a bit sensitive given the comment, but let's really understand the bond and special relationship between faculty and staff...always has been that way at A&M....[smile]

  • techag posted at 11:32 am on Sun, Jul 21, 2013.

    techag Posts: 203

    Wow, thanks for telling me I'm not important as a staff member. Real moral booster! What an idiot.

  • Ag79 posted at 10:31 am on Sun, Jul 21, 2013.

    Ag79 Posts: 14

    at least there is toilet paper in the stall... :P not true for other locations.

  • posted at 9:03 am on Sun, Jul 21, 2013.


    By downplaying the role of staff, JS has demeaned the majority of TAMU employees. WIthout these folks, the university stops functioning. Professors don't make the library run, set and and fix computers, do the accounting, run the physical plant, advise students, monitor safety on campus, provide food services, build the buildings...Professors teach, do community outreach and do research...important, yes...for this they are highly paid...but, it is the staff that makes the place run...remove the staff, disgruntle the staff and you have a poor institution.

    In addition, with cut backs on staff over the years, professors have now assumed many tasks formally performed by student workers, secretaries, administrative personnel, etc. When staff are cut the work doesn't go systems like concur, simply cause profs to spend more hours managing their own travel, thus effectively increasing the cost of the system. Profs with research grants, now build in the cost of administrative assistants to handle the administrative load once handled by the university, despite the fact they already pay overhead on the grants.

    Hiring efficiency experts to help get rid of waste is one thing...undercutting morale, increasing the workload of the very people you say are so important, and in reality sucking up the time, energy, creativity and talent of so many faculty and staff who increasingly have to confront the "system" is counterproductive. Departmental budgets have shrunk compared to the 1990s, and now you want to cut out even more.

    Our staff, faculty students and parents, indeed our state deserve something better than the leadership being shown by JS. He knows how to use the whip, but is a poor leader...He does not inspire excellence, he manages through fear...he has few who respect him...and rarely offers a kind word....

  • amhasotherneeds posted at 8:42 am on Sun, Jul 21, 2013.

    amhasotherneeds Posts: 8

    If you wan to see how a typical often used toilet at A&M looks after one year
    of outsourcing janitorial services:

  • master of disaster posted at 8:08 am on Sun, Jul 21, 2013.

    master of disaster Posts: 531

    Good God, I hate CONCUR.

  • FromAfar posted at 8:00 am on Sun, Jul 21, 2013.

    FromAfar Posts: 477

    In order for any professor to do his or her job well, they need a good staff. Otherwise, they will be wasting their time doing the things that talented staff people can do, but untalented ones can't.

    Yes, we rely on our staff for many things. The direct impact on faculty of the outsourcing of maintenance and food services has not been major as far as I can tell, but the resulting loss of morale in our staff is disconcerting. Some other changes, such as OSR taking over research administration from the Research Foundation and agencies and the introduction of CONCUR, have been disasters and moreover have been expensive. The money "saved" by the consolidation of research administration all went to the central administration, while units had to hire more staff to do what formerly was done by TAMRF and the agencies. Moreover, faculty now must spend much more time on administration because of the CONCUR abomination. I wonder whether outsourcing has caused similar problems that I have not witnessed.

  • Kade posted at 7:04 am on Sun, Jul 21, 2013.

    Kade Posts: 67

    How is Compass making money? They can't re-assign or lay-off for 2 years. That's when the bloodbath starts. Longtime, and better paid, employees will be dismissed, since new hires are not grandfathered in and won't have the same level of benefits. But they're already doing things like following custodial staff around trying to dismiss anyone they can for performance. Maintenance areas are chronically understaffed now. The moral among IT personnel, who know they're next on the chopping block, is abysmal. The economy of the rest of B/CS will be wrecked. Less jobs, less employees, remaining ones paid less, will only result in more money in the local economy.

  • rj posted at 1:13 am on Sun, Jul 21, 2013.

    rj Posts: 168

    "there are some who worry longtime employees might lose their jobs, quality of services could decline or that the sense of Aggie community will get lost in number-crunching."

    After speaking to dozens of A&M employees at my place of business, it looks like the first has already happened to many, the second is is process, and the third is completely gone. The esteemed chancellor seems to have forgotten that A&M is consistently in the top tier for "bang for the buck" ratings, and had those ratings long before his shadow loomed over the campus like a malevolent cloud. In order for any professor to do his or her job well, they need a good staff. Otherwise, they will be wasting their time doing the things that talented staff people can do, but untalented ones can't. Good staff members are fleeing the school as fast as they can leave.

    When he pulled off the shady Compass deal, he promised that other than losing their retirement plan, employees would not be laid off or have their wages cut. However, he has never explained how a for-profit company is going to keep its shareholders happy without either raising prices to students, cutting employee numbers or lowering wages. I've been a businessman for more than 30 years -- I'd like to be able to find this magic money tree.

    I have no respect or faith in the chancellor. And if I ever see him, I'll certainly let him know that there's one area business person who hates what he's done to my alma mater.