May 18-20, 2005


ITEM 127-133-R0505����������������� Board of Regents/OCHE Operational Priority Issues


THAT:�������������������������������������� The Board of Regents authorizes the Commissioner to create and fill positions for an Information Management Professional, Administrative Assistant for the Fiscal Staff, and support person for the Deputy Commissioner of Academic and Student Affairs.


EXPLANATION:����������������������� The Board of Regents has identified a number of priorities for the Montana University System.� Among these priorities is a recognition that the Commissioner and the Regents should have better system-wide data, be more active in setting budget priorities, and effectively implement the initiatives of the P-20, Indian Education for All, and Shared Leadership initiatives.� To more successfully respond to these priorities, the Commissioner has identified three areas where additional system-level staff resources are critical.


Create an Information Management Position:

Based on lack of useable management/tracking data, well described in Item 127-121-R0505 (Administration and Budget Committee), the Commissioner�s Office needs an individual who can coordinate inter-campus information management and data issues.� While the campuses have extensive data, the Commissioner and Regents have very little quality system-wide data, which in turn makes it extremely difficult to track system-wide changes or progress.� What data does exist is usually compiled manually from information provided by the respective campuses.� This makes it very difficult to track system performance and nearly impossible to evaluate time series data.� This problem will only worsen with the adoption of a Regent�s strategic plan that will certainly require tracking progress toward long-term performance goals.


University system data and information technology (IT) issues will inherently involve coordination with key staff at the campuses, so this position will be filled by someone with enough experience to operate confidently at a senior level.� The position will focus primarily on the immediate needs of providing much better system data availability and management.� The position will have a secondary mission of working with the campus CIOs to evolve toward common inter-campus IT systems where possible.� Without this position it will continue to be exceedingly difficult to effectively coordinate the data gathering and report generation required for better system management.


The Regents have also had discussions about the need for a senior-level institutional research position.� Since system-wide data are not readily available, the Commissioner needs to address the overall technology and data issues as the initial priority before assessing the value of adding an institutional research professional.� With the addition of an Information Management position the Commissioner�s office will be able to work even more closely with the institutional research offices of the campuses to meet BOR and OCHE needs.


The IT position would likely report to the Associate Commissioner of Fiscal Affairs with a loaded cost (salary plus benefits) target of $98,000 per year.


Create a Fiscal Administrative Assistant Position:

The OCHE fiscal staff currently operates with 6 people, including the Associate Commissioner, Budget Director and Office Accounting Manager, without any administrative support.�� It has been noted by fiscal staff at the campuses that we will probably need an administrative support person to be able to attract a qualified individual to replace Rod Sundsted.� This is in recognition that almost every large campus or state system fiscal office in the country has at least some dedicated administrative support.� The issue is one of efficient division of labor.� Requiring senior staff to perform work that can be handled by less-senior staff takes valuable time and resources away from the bigger issues that require the highest level of critical thinking.� The increasing demands on our fiscal staff have made, and will continue to make this problem more pronounced over time.


This position would report to the Associate Commissioner for Fiscal Affairs with a loaded cost target of $42,000 per year.


Provide Additional Support to the Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs:

The Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education is responsible for special projects that affect the academic operation of the Montana University System.� In recent years, those projects have included mathematics and writing proficiency standards for admission, the P-20 initiative with K-12 education, staff assistance to the Board of Education and its committees, Title II grants to improve teacher quality, Indian Education for All, and the transfer audit.� A major issue requiring additional time, effort, and leadership will be the MUS role in support of Indian Education For All.�� Responsibility for those projects is divided among current employees in the Commissioner's office, but many of those employees were hired for other activities and many are funded by grants that increasingly restrict non-grant activity.� While the current staff has been willing to take on these additional duties, these projects do impact their ability to perform their primary responsibilities.� As these initiatives expand it is doubtful the staff can sustain these important efforts and meet their primary assigned duties.� Also, an indirect cost approval process that is currently being reviewed at the federal level is likely to diminish our ability to dedicate staff time to these non-primary duties, even at the current level of commitment.


The Commissioner�s Office needs the authority to create the equivalent of one position to support the Deputy Commissioner.� This will take the form of both reorganizing the duties within the office and the addition of one or more part-time employees.� Specifically, the addition of a part-time additional Indian Education For All support position and a part time P-20 support position will be necessary to significantly move these initiatives forward.


The individual(s) filling this position would report to the Deputy Commissioner with a total cost target of $50,000 per year.


Total Request:

The estimated funding required to support the three priority positions is $190,000 annually.