11:47 AM

New audit shows Ohio State’s commitment to resource stewardship

A state performance audit released today recommends next steps in Ohio State’s ongoing work to reduce administrative costs.

The university volunteered for the performance audit as part of its commitment to operational excellence and resource stewardship, a pillar of Ohio State’s strategic plan. In work prior to the performance audit, Ohio State has used efficiency savings and innovative partnerships to fund more than $100 million in new need-based aid for Ohio students.

The performance audit by the Auditor of State’s office identified four areas where Ohio State could amplify its efficiency efforts, with a total potential savings of $6.4 million a year.

“As the flagship higher education institution in the State of Ohio, OSU has a long tradition of successfully adapting to create a balanced educational and operational environment,” the performance audit says. “This is especially true throughout the last several years as the university has embarked on a number of groundbreaking, strategic initiatives.”

The performance audit recommended that the university optimize its use of printers and copiers; adopt consistent, efficient hiring and financial transactions processes; and move computer servers to cost-effective data centers.

The university has efficiency projects underway in several of those areas. Ohio State is implementing a new university-wide IT system to manage human resources, finance and student information, and many processes are being standardized and simplified as part of the project. The university also has been migrating servers to the State of Ohio Computer Center since 2015.

“We welcome this report, which supports Ohio State’s focus on operational excellence and resource stewardship,” said Michael Papadakis, Ohio State’s interim senior vice president for business and finance and chief financial officer. “This report will contribute to our ongoing efficiency work.”

In 2015, President Michael V. Drake announced a plan to generate a total of $400 million over five years to enhance access, affordability and excellence. The university has already surpassed the goal to direct at least $100 million of funds to financial aid. The university is on track to surpass the efficiency and new resource goals by fiscal year 2020.

The audit lists the following recommendations:

  • Ohio State could save an estimated $2,382,700 a year by consolidating additional computer servers and moving them to a more secure and cost-effective data center, such as the State of Ohio Computer Center. The university moved its central servers to the SOCC in 2015 and has migrated more than half the other areas since then. Work is ongoing with remaining colleges and support units.
  • As part of its university-wide systems upgrade, Ohio State should eliminate separate hiring systems found throughout the university’s divisions to save $1,204,400 annually. Additionally, streamlining purchasing-card transactions and travel reimbursements with the unified system would save $2,076,300 every year.
  • Eliminating excess copiers and printers and ensuring that all copiers and printers operate within the system maintained by the university’s printing contractor could save the university $684,700 a year.
  • Ohio State could revise the current background check administrative fee to recover the direct cost of the services, freeing up as much as $90,600 per year.

Ohio State will integrate the report’s recommendations into the university’s efficiency planning process alongside other projects.