Effectiveness and Efficiency Work Group

USM Board of Regents Initiative on Effectiveness and Efficiency in Higher Education




  1. Rationale, Expectations, and Scope
  1. Rationale
  2. The USM has always taken seriously the responsibility, incumbent upon public institutions, to ensure the prudent management of the taxpayers' money. The Chancellor's Statement on Vision and Values represents the framework for the University System of Maryland's revised Strategic Plan: "The USM will adhere to the highest standards of stewardship in all of its endeavors and will promote the effective, efficient, and principled use of state and private resources."

    Public higher education in Maryland is confronted with a number of daunting challenges including increasing student demand, tuition affordability, accessibility, changing workforce and economic needs, and, most importantly the academic quality of the State's institutions and their programs. These and other challenges converge where the economics of higher education are concerned. Further, current budget conditions heighten the importance of testing the basic business assumptions of the academic enterprise.

    Consequently, given our commitment to our students and their families as well as the taxpayers of the State, the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland will form a special work group to guide a process for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of higher education. The Board of Regents Work Group on Effectiveness and Efficiency has as its vision a University System of Maryland that is a national leader in transforming the operating model of public higher education to provide world class education, research, and public service at costs that are affordable to students and taxpayers.

    The focus of this effort will be on reducing the University System's cost structure while increasing its quality and value to the citizens of Maryland. We will not be looking for ways to "do less for less," but rather for ways to "do more and better through increased effectiveness and efficiency." 

  3. Expectations

In conducting its work the group is asked to:

  • Review and assess the cost-saving and effectiveness initiatives put in place by USM institutions in recent years, with an eye to identifying and sharing best practices across the System
  • Examine the economic and operating models now in place in public higher education for the purpose of evaluating alternative models of service delivery
  • Promote USM-wide culture committed to continuous improvement, reengineering, and application of best practices
  • Identify opportunities to reduce and avoid costs, increase entrepreneurial resources, and redirect resources to maximize quality and capacity
  • Develop a workable model of education delivery and organization systems that will meet the growing demand for higher education
  • Develop benchmark indicators to measure USM institutions against peer institutions nationally as well as internally developed performance indicators.
  • Use USM's public corporation status to promote effectiveness and efficiency throughout the System
  • Explore the use of consulting groups with expertise in various business practices
  • Articulate the importance of this initiative, including its goals, expectations, and benchmarks, in the USM's Strategic Plan
  • Monitor and report on the financial and qualitative impact of effectiveness and efficiency measures
  • Keep the Maryland public informed of the progress in various effectiveness and efficiency initiatives

C. Scope of the Initiative

The E&E Work Group will review various aspects of the academic enterprise. This review will encompass the following broad areas and activities:

  • Improving time to degree
  • Promoting campus incentives to achieve cost savings and enhance revenues for investment in program quality
  • Testing models of centralization and decentralization to achieve greater effectives and efficiency
  • Maximizing the utilization of campus facilities
  • Utilizing the accountability system for evaluating presidential leadership and institutional performance
  • Examining opportunities for privatization and outsourcing


II. Goals, Organizational Approach, and Desired Outcomes

  1. Goals
    • Improve academic quality
    • Maintain access
    • Maintain the bond rating by replenishing the USM Fund Balance
    • Redirect savings to improve quality
    • Make the System a national model for effective and efficient operations

B. Organizational Approach

    • The E&E Work Group is a major priority of the Board of Regents. The work group approach emanates from the outcomes of the recent Board retreat and the Best Practices Study Group recommendation to focus Board activity on a select number of high priority activities.
  1. The role of the Work Group is to provide policy guidance and oversight in the E&E process on a system-wide basis, operate as a clearinghouse for initiatives, monitor activities, and review results based on pre-established benchmarks.
  2. The Work Group may form subcommittees to focus on certain areas of effectiveness and efficiency as needed.
  3. The Work Group will seek the widest possible input from both within and without the system. In particular, it will solicit ideas from: other
    universities, public and private, in the US and abroad; business and labor; specialists in higher education economics; management, faculty, staff, and students throughout the system; legislators; and the public.
    • The Chancellor, in concert with the Presidents, will direct the operational activities involved in implementing this initiative.
  1. The Chancellor will design the implementation structure of this initiative; develop the benchmarking program; examine and approve inter-institutional and system-wide proposals; and will form staff workgroups as needed.
  2. Presidents will plan and implement intra-institutional initiatives and report results to the Board through the Chancellor based upon pre-established indicators and benchmarks.

  3. Because a strong system of inter-institutional coordinating councils currently exists within the USM and represents the most senior management of the institutions as well as those groups responsible for most of the functions and operations of the institutions, the E&E Work Group will rely upon these proven, effective forums to connect new ideas with subject area expertise.
  4. This process will begin with the identification of potential projects by existing senior management coordinating committees (Presidents' Council, the Council of Academic Vice Presidents, and the Council of Vice Presidents for Administration and Finance). In addition to identifying such projects, these groups are expected to lead E&E initiatives including privatization and outsourcing, inter-institutional partnerships, academic collaborations, "back office" consolidations, and revenue generating opportunities.
  5. The E&E program will be a standing item on the agenda for regularly scheduled meetings of the appropriate System councils.
3. Finally, the System has numerous flexible and effective processes for identifying and evaluating proposals. These processes typically culminate with a review by one of the vice presidential councils, then the Chancellor's Council, and, where appropriate, a Board committee and the full Board. Input will also be sought regularly and systematically from the existing advisory councils (CUSF, CUSS, USMSC). Additionally, there will be discussions and negotiations with the unions on matters covered by the collective bargaining process.

The E&E Work Group will take advantage of these processes to seek out new ideas, expeditiously review and examine them as they are developed, and, most importantly, create the Systemwide support necessary for their effective implementation.

C. Desired Outcomes
    1. Enhanced quality in the System's teaching, research and service programs
    2. Improved access and affordability
    3. Where appropriate, implementation of best business practices in higher education and from the private sector
    4. Responsiveness to the needs of external constituents
    5. A transparent process open to citizens, employees, oversight agencies, elected officials and the media