U libraries are model for admin structure analysis

U Libraries didn’t actually reduce its budget in the restructure.

by Tyler Gieseke

While University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler pointed to the recent restructuring of the University Libraries as an example of how administrative costs can be minimized, the reorganization resulted in no budgetary reduction.

Amid criticism for administrative bloat, state legislators called for a review of the University’s administrative structure in January.

“Right now we are in the midst of analyzing our organizational structure to learn if and how we can be more efficient,” Kaler said in his Feb. 28 State of the University address. “The Libraries have already completed a similar analysis with tremendous impact.”

A preliminary report of four administrative units by Sibson Consulting found the University had few areas to improve.

Although the Libraries reduced the number of supervisory positions by 22 percent through the restructuring process — which occurred largely in fiscal years 2011 and 2012 — its budget will remain the same. No positions were added or removed, and no employees took pay cuts or raises.

Rather than lowering budgetary costs, the goal of spans-and-layers reorganizations is to “ensure that we have put our resources — as much of our resources as we can — toward our mission-specific work,” said Kathy Brown, vice president for human resources.

If the Libraries received any money through the restructure, like if a previously open position wasn’t filled, that money was reallocated, said Wendy Lougee, University librarian.

“[The reorganization] wasn’t done at all for budgetary reasons,” she said.

The Libraries had already accommodated budget cuts of more than $3 million from prior years, she said. The reorganization dealt with the cuts and with positions that were open due to retirement incentive programs.

The restructure resulted in several reductions in spans of control, or the number of employees that report to supervisors.

For example, the number of supervisors with fewer than five individuals reporting to them decreased by 43 percent as a result of the analysis, according to Libraries data.

Also, the number of supervisors with five or more employees increased by 16 percent, from 25 supervisors to 29.

Although Kaler used the Libraries’ reorganization as an example of how administration can be streamlined, the organization’s analysis wasn’t motivated by concerns about spans and layers, Lougee said. Rather, the review aimed to increase efficiency and address the fact that libraries are shifting toward holding more digital items.