Message from the Vice President for Finance & Administration

DFA colleagues,

One of my official duties is participating in the commencement ceremony, and as I walked into Reser Stadium with Oregon State University’s Class of 2019, I reflected on the incredible accomplishments of the over 7,000 students awaiting their diplomas. I felt so invigorated!

Celebrating this significant milestone together with such a diverse crowd of students, faculty, administrators, staff, families and many volunteers, it was clear to me that this is truly a collective accomplishment. It takes the sustained and cooperative efforts of everyone at Oregon State for each student to make it across the finish line.

Each one of you, as an employee of the Division of Finance and Administration, contributes more than you may realize to the success of students. Because of your hard work and care, OSU continues to be a welcoming place for current and future students, as well as faculty and staff. As the spring term comes to a close, I thank you for your work and contributions to the university’s mission.

I also want to share my excitement about the work our team has done so far on the Framework for Success (a brief status update is included below). Through this project, we are establishing a direct connection between our shared values and our daily work.

The Framework’s guiding principles will help make sure our decisions align with our values, and they inform key performance indicators (KPIs) that will keep us focused on achieving our top priorities. Together, we will develop metrics to measure our progress, and we will establish some important milestones that we can celebrate as we meet them. The Framework for Success project is planned to extend into fall term. It will serve as the foundation for a reset of the division’s strategic plan and our contributions to OSU’s Strategic Plan 4.0.

Just as with commencement, the work we do in the Division of Finance and Administration requires sustained collaboration, an attitude of goodwill toward each other and the desire to see everyone succeed. The updates below reflect the cooperative efforts of many people at OSU (inside and outside our division), and demonstrate some of the progress we have made over the past few months.

Celebrate our accomplishments at the 2019 DFA Annual Meeting & Awards

The highlight of the DFA Annual Meeting (Aug. 13, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) is always the presentation of employee awards. Now is the time to nominate your most responsive, innovative, team-oriented and all-around outstanding co-workers. Tell us a short story about a DFA employee (including student employees) you think should be publicly honored and given a cash prize. Nominations are due by July 17. The process is easier than ever this year, and nominations are welcome from OSU colleagues outside of the division.

The DFA Framework for Success brings a shared focus to what’s important

As mentioned above, the DFA Framework for Success project draws clear lines connecting our values to the work we do and the things we measure. What we measure is important: Data can show if we are using resources effectively. It reveals how our individual work contributes to the university’s mission. And it can tell us how well we are helping colleagues and students advance their respective goals.

The DFA Leadership Council, with input from DFA managers on our Extended Leadership team, is in the process of defining a set of consistent guiding principles and key performance indicators (KPIs). Next, leaders will define a set of broad, division-wide metrics.

Following that work, project leads Heather Riney and Dr. Javier Calvo-Amodio will meet with individual  unit leaders and their teams to identify specific metrics that may be unique to the business needs of that area. The teams will determine how the different metrics relate to one another, who is responsible for managing them, and how the data behind the metrics is collected and compiled.

The end goal of collaboratively developing this Framework for Success is the creation of a shared language and understanding that will guide our daily work, projects and initiatives.

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DFA Risk Appetite Statements will assist employees with critical decisions

The DFA Leadership Council, together with leaders from the Research Office and the Office of Audit, Risk and Compliance, is developing a set of DFA risk appetite statements. The goal is to use these statements and some related tools to assist employees in understanding, assessing, addressing, and communicating the amount of risk the university and Division of Finance and Administration are willing to accept in pursuit of strategic goals. The statements will provide guidance to staff and faculty in their daily roles, so employees can be confident that the decisions they make align with OSU’s best interests across a range of risk categories.

Over the past several weeks, different DFA work groups, including the Beaver Works Core Project Team, the Fiscal Policy Team, and the DFA Extended Leadership Team, participated in working sessions where they practiced applying the risk statements to current issues and decisions. Keep in mind that everything we do to advance our goals has some level of risk. It was an interesting process to explore scenarios where it turned out that it was the best decision to take on more risk than we initially might have expected.

The feedback from these practice sessions is being used to revise the risk statements and finalize tools that will support employees in making critical operational and strategic decisions. DFA employees and the wider university community will receive more information and training around these new risk appetite statements in the coming months.

The Beaver Works business operations project continues to make progress

We have talked a lot in the division about the Beaver Works project, a systematic process of evaluating and improving business operations across Business Affairs, Business Centers and the Office of Budget & Resource Planning. In its early work, the core project team broadly engaged with stakeholders to create a roadmap for reaching desired outcomes. The team’s first big milestone was the development of a comprehensive inventory of DFA business operation functions, informed by employees across the division and the university. Then they hosted focus groups sessions for 285 faculty, staff and other stakeholders to provide input about different functional areas.

The core project team is working closely with Dr. Javier Calvo-Amodio, an OSU associate professor and expert in systems engineering, to analyze the data collected from the focus groups to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the functional areas. The resulting information and conclusions will inform future leadership decisions about project priorities, process improvement needs, information technology solutions and organizational design. We will continue to share developments that arise from this exciting project.

Fiscal Year 2020 budgets, still being finalized, will be tight

At the May Board of Trustees meeting, university leadership proposed its operating budget plan for fiscal year 2020. Because the state legislature was still in session at the time, OSU’s primary funding was uncertain and the university planned to make nearly $18 million in reductions from the previous year to reach a balanced budget. Now, as state funding for Oregon’s universities is becoming clear, OSU administrators are determining how best to address what is now a $9 million budget shortfall, while funding areas of strategic and targeted need.

The Division of Finance and Administration plays an important role in supporting OSU’s primary mission of education, research and outreach. It is our responsibility to be the best stewards we can of university resources. Our Board of Trustees has made a commitment to keeping student tuition as low as possible, and that requires keeping administrative costs low. We can do our part as individuals by making the best use of funds for controllable expenses like services, supplies and travel. Keep in mind how quickly our collective spending adds up!

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The Office of Human Resources is reorganizing

Human Resources is in process of realigning roles and work to support a new operating model and organizational structure. This new model represents the culmination of efforts in response to a 2016 external review of Human Resources functions AND the beginning of efforts to expand HR’s strategic capabilities and contributions in support of OSU Strategic Plan 4.0.

The new Human Resources model:

  • Consolidates seven former Business Center HR teams into one HR Service Center (operating out of three campus locations).
  • Introduces a new HR Strategic Partner consulting organization.
  • Repositions the traditional central functions as Centers of Expertise.

Going forward, the new organization will be known as University Human Resources (UHR) to reflect its collective shared vision. Over the summer, HR teams will settle into the new structure by redesigning workflows, partnerships and processes within reconfigured teams and introducing new tools, including a ticket system to support and track operational work in the service center. UHR will offer opportunities for DFA units and other campus partners to help identify process pain points and priorities for improvement.

Keep an eye out for further announcements, and please feel free to contact members of the UHR leadership team for more information.

Benny Hire project team is focused on delivering full scope and functionality

A collaboration between the Office of Human Resources and University Information & Technology, the Benny Hire project has completely redesigned—and simplified—how student employees and graduate assistants are recruited and hired. The graduate assistant technology solution went live to the university community on March 14. Following the launch, the project team has been addressing issues as they arise and making continuous improvements to the user experience.

The team is also developing a Benny Hire system for student hiring for hourly employees. Incremental testing and training sessions occurred over spring term and will continue as the project advances. The development team is in the process of determining user training and implementation dates, with the goal of delivering the full scope and required functionality, together with the necessary support for users. We will share more information and go-live dates for the Benny Hire hourly student system when they are available.

Four capital construction projects advanced by the Board of Trustees

The university undertakes large capital construction projects in order to ensure that university buildings and facilities functionally serve their academic and research purposes. In Corvallis, we are focusing resources primarily on renewing and renovating older buildings to bring them up to modern standards. In Bend, we are building a brand new campus in one of the fastest-growing areas of the state. More details about the university’s current capital projects can be found at the CPD Project Delivery webpage.

The capital projects planning staff in Corvallis and Bend, working closely with college and university leaders, were successful in receiving Board of Trustees approval this spring to advance four major construction projects:

  • The Cordley Hall Phase II renovation will completely update half of the building with new systems and safety features, along with modern laboratory spaces for researchers. The Board’s Finance and Administration Committee approved advancing the project to the schematic design stage, allowing architectural plans for the renovation to be completed.
  • The Cascade Hall renovation project also was advanced to the schematic design stage. The west wing of the building is being updated to accommodate the Naval ROTC program, which must be relocated. The building’s second floor will be renovated to provide space much-needed space for Department of Public Safety staff, equipment and training areas.
  • The Merryfield Hall project received Board approval to advance to the construction phase. The building is being renovated to increase its energy efficiency, update fire alarms and sprinklers, and improve classroom and lab space for the School of Nuclear Science and Engineering.
  • The Board also approved advancing OSU-Cascades’ site reclamation project to the construction phase. This project will reclaim 46 acres of an adjacent former pumice mine and a section of an adjacent former demotion landfill. This land will provide the foundation for future building and infrastructure development at the emerging Bend campus.

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Ongoing upgrades to the OSU-Corvallis power grid

Oregon State has been partnering closely with energy supplier Pacific Power to improve the safety and reliability of the Corvallis campus power grid. Over the past two years, this work has significantly reduced the number of unplanned power outages that, in the past, could have put research and personal safety at risk. At this point in the multi-year project, a series of planned, short-term service interruptions are required to allow for infrastructure upgrades.

The power interruptions are being planned to minimize impacts on students, faculty and staff as much as possible. During planned outages, back-up generators will be used when possible. Outages typically will be scheduled, before 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m. Because planned power interruptions will continue periodically over the next few years, staff at University Facilities, Infrastructure and Operations are coordinating in advance with impacted groups, sharing notification emails and has developed a new Power Grid Updates webpage to keep the campus community informed in real time.

New OSU procurement standards may impact you

Working closely with the University Policy and Standards office, the team within Procurement, Contracts and Materials Management has revised OSU’s Procurement Standards. The new standards were adopted in January and align with updated federal Uniform Guidance Procurement Standards and also offer more flexibility and simplicity to OSU’s purchasing process.

Several changes that may significantly impact employees who purchase goods, services and construction-related services to support university operations. A few are highlighted below:

  • The formal procurement threshold for non-federally funded procurements increased from $150,000 to $250,000. The formal procurement threshold for federally funded procurements remains limited at $150,000 in adherence with the Uniform Guidance. This is beneficial because it is no longer necessary to go through the more prescriptive and time consuming formal procurement process for most purchases.
  • Informal solicitations valued between $25,000 and $150,000 (federally funded) or $250,000 (funding sources other than federal) can now be done by any staff member ordering goods or services (note that this doesn’t apply to construction purchases). You no longer need assistance from PCMM procurement staff to develop a request for quote or proposal and advertise before awarding the purchase. Now, purchasers can simply obtain competitive quotes, comparisons or proposals from at least two sources and submit the purchase request in BennyBuy using the proof of competition form.
  • The old Construction Retainer Program has been replaced by the Reserve Contracting Program, which inlcudes significantly increased purchasing thresholds.

For more information you can review the “Procurement Standards” presentation on the PCMM training site. You also can access the Procurement Solicitations and Contracts Standards and Procurement Thresholds and Methods Standards on the University Policy website.

Interesting links from around the DFA

A few extra items of interest--check them out!

  • Do you know what to do in an emergency situation? Download the DAMSafe app for quick guidance, and do your part to help keep OSU one of the safest universities in the nation.
  • OSU emerged victorious in the annual RecycleMania Oregon Classic, beating the Ducks by recycling more on a per person basis and keeping the trophy another year! Go Beavs!
  • Campus Recycling has taken the lead in starting a new program called Grads Give Back, which collects used graduate gowns after Commencement and provides them to under-resourced students for use the following year.
  • Materials Management once again worked together with University Housing and Dining Services and Community Responsibility & Belonging to host The Great Move Out – providing services to on- and off-campus students to donate what household furnishing and goods that they no longer need when they move out, and redistribute the goods to non-profit organizations in the area.
  • Oregon State's campuses are improving every day. Subscribe to Campus Directions to get a once-a-month update on how we are making our campuses safer, more sustainable and even more beautiful!

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Thanks for all you do!

Mike

Michael J. Green

Vice President for Finance & Administration / Chief Financial Officer

 

Questions or suggestions? Email us: VPFA@oregonstate.edu

Read the previous VPFA Update from Winter 2019

Remember our DFA motto: Ensuring success every day!