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EDITORIAL: New review group’s success relies on tactical revisions

The Faculty Senate has created a task force to review USF’s administrative structure to detect inefficiencies and create a more streamlined system in light of $50.4-million budget cuts.

While the details of how the task force will conduct its reviews are not yet determined, the decision to look higher up the University hierarchy for ineffectiveness and wasteful spending is fitting and necessary given the financial straits in which USF is confined.

Those individuals in the lower rungs of the hierarchy – namely professors and staff members – have been dealing with budget-related assessments and their resulting changes for almost a year now.

Since the announcement of pending budget cuts early last fall, hiring has been frozen, positions cut and entire colleges realigned to accommodate USF’s trimmed finances. Nearly every academic program underwent controversial reviews by the Budget Priorities Advisory Task Force to determine how pertinent they were to USF’s five-year plan, striking fear in many departments and programs that were targeted as areas that could absorb the financial blow or even be eliminated.

It is necessary that every facet of the University be evaluated in an evenhanded, equitable way, and given the stressful and stringent scrutiny paid to everyone else, USF’s administration is obliged to bear the same.

Also, as colleges and departments continue to be shifted and rearranged, diligent monitoring of the administrative structures will prevent position overlap and congestion, thus saving money and effectively streamlining.

While the idea of a task force to examine the administration is good, the Faculty Senate must be careful not to re-tread the faulty ground laid by similarly created review groups.

A common woe expressed by members of the USF community was that the information used by reviewers of the Budget Priorities Advisory Task Force was not only incomplete, but incorrect and out of date. The new task force must utilize more comprehensive means of assessment to prevent such mistakes, which ultimately discredit reviews.

There is also the issue of bias among the reviewers, which many charged as the motivation behind many of the Budget Priorities Advisory Task Force’s recommendations.

The methods and criteria used by reviewers should be clear and easily available to the public and the task force should consider incorporating some outside individuals into the process to prevent accusations of partial reviewers.

Those responsible for identifying inefficiencies and waste within the University will never have an easy job. But if the Faculty Senate task force makes prudent and thoughtful decisions about how to perform its administrative reviews, it can avoid the pitfalls encountered by previous review groups.