About 500 jobs would be eliminated at the University of Texas under a plan that calls for consolidating finance, personnel, information technology and purchasing functions that are currently scattered among various university units.
UT officials said Friday that the plan would save money, improve services and ensure that the vast majority of staff reductions would be achieved through retirements, voluntary resignations and other attrition.
But the Texas State Employees Union, which represents some university employees, said the plan seeks to run UT “more like a business and less like an affordable, public institution of higher learning.” The group called on the university to get more input from workers who would be affected before moving ahead.
UT spokesman Gary Susswein confirmed that a document provided to news reporters by the union is the latest draft of the plan. Titled “UT Shared Services Plan,” it projects savings of up to $140 million after 10 years, with continuing savings of up to $40 million annually.
The shared services initiative is part of a broader effort that officials say could generate as much as $490 million in 10 years by cutting costs or increasing revenues.
Kevin Hegarty, the university’s vice president and chief financial officer, said he could not guarantee that consolidating services would not result in layoffs. He noted, however, that natural attrition of up to 275 employees annually in the affected offices would sharply minimize any need for layoffs as the plan is implemented during the next four or five years.
The projected savings takes into account the cost, as much as $180 million over 10 years, of purchasing updated computer systems and training employees to operate the consolidated functions.
UT has about 20,000 full-time and part-time employees, including staff and faculty members. The plan does not call for eliminating any faculty jobs.
The Texas State Employees Union questioned the involvement of Accenture LLP in UT’s shared services plan, noting that the state scrapped an $899 million contract with the company in 2007 after problems arose in outsourcing call centers for programs such as food stamps and Medicaid.
UT will pay Accenture several million dollars for helping to plan the shared services project, Hegarty said. The company has considerable expertise in such consulting, he said, adding that it has done similar work at Yale University and the University of Michigan.
UT paid Accenture about $1 million for a universitywide plan, released in January, that said the school could generate as much as $490 million in 10 years by consolidating services, selling excess electrical power, charging students more for room and board, and undertaking other cost-cutting or revenue-enhancing measures.
Hegarty said committees are looking into the various recommendations.