VP for Equity delays release of consultant info, wants to charge for docs

7/24/2017 update:

This university needs an effective office of Internal Audit to examine these sorts of bids. It took 5 weeks just to get an estimate from the VPEI for the public records, and now the PRO refuses to waive their $114.62 fee:


Dear Mr. Harbaugh:
The University of Oregon has received your public records request for “…a copy of all bids submitted in response to: RFQ for Executive Coaching Services Solicitation Number: PCS# 211000-00055-RFQ and emails between Michael Tani-Eshon or Yvette Alex-Assensoh and bidders or potential bidders regarding this RFQ” on 06/19/2017, attached.

The office estimates the actual cost of responding to your request to be $114.62. Upon receipt of a check made payable to the University of Oregon for that amount, the office will proceed to locate, copy, and provide the records you have requested that are not exempt from disclosure. Your check may be sent to the attention of Office of Public Records, 6207 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-6207.

 I note you requested a waiver based on an assertion that release of these documents is in the public interest. The office has performed the three-part analysis of your request, has determined that your request does not meet the public interest test, and has exercised its discretion to deny your request for a fee waiver. Upon receipt of payment outlined above, the office will begin to prepare your requested documents.

Please note that if the cost of preparing the documents for you is less than the estimate, we will refund the difference. If the cost of preparing the records for you exceeds the estimate, however, you may be charged for the difference. Following is an outline of how costs are determined.

The office will provide the documents electronically to avoid a copy fee of 25 cents per page. The office also charges for the actual cost of making public records available. The charge includes, but is not limited to, staff costs for locating, gathering, summarizing, compiling, reviewing, tailoring or redacting the public records to respond to a request. The charge may also include the cost of time spent by an attorney in reviewing the public records, redacting material from the public records, or segregating the public records into exempt and nonexempt records.

The cost of time for each employee is calculated by multiplying the employee’s hourly wage calculation (including benefits expenses) by the hours or portions thereof necessary to locate, gather, summarize, compile, tailor, review, redact, segregate, certify or attend the inspection of the public records requested.

Thank you for contacting us with your request.


Office of Public Records


7/10/2017 update: UO Matters saves UO $25K and an uncountable amount of administrative B.S.

Sometimes a simple question is all it takes. In an effort to find out more about the $25K buzzword consultant VPEI wanted to hire, I made this public records request on June 18th:

From: Bill Harbaugh <wtharbaugh@gmail.com>
Subject: PR request VPEI Coaching Services
Date: June 18, 2017 at 10:32:41 PM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>
Cc: mate@uoregon.edu, Yvette M Alex-Assensoh <yalex@uoregon.edu>

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for a copy of all bids submitted in response to:

RFQ for Executive Coaching Services
Solicitation Number: PCS# 211000-00055-RFQ
at https://pcs.uoregon.edu/content/business-opportunities

and emails between Michael Tani-Eshon or Yvette Alex-Assensoh and bidders or potential bidders regarding this RFQ. I’m ccing Mr. Tani-Eshon and VP Alex-Assensoh since they should have easy access to these public records.

I ask for a fee-waiver on the basis of public interest.


Bill Harbaugh

The public records office has sat on it for 3 weeks now, and hasn’t responded to my follow up, but the good news is that the request has already worked. As of July 6th, “THIS OPPORTUNITY IS CANCELLED”:

5/17/2017: Office of Equity and Inclusion searching for buzzword consultant

Nice to know that, after laying off 100 faculty, UO now has money to burn on a consulting firm to help with “executive trustbuilding”, “change management”, “active learning skills including paraphrasing” (that’s a direct quote) and “harnessing the power of culture to optimize outcomes“. $25K, or enough to pay for 4 Pathways scholarships. And it’s renewable:



Duck’s prep new missile for first strike against UO’s academic side

UOM agents have acquired photographic evidence that the new Hayward Field “cell phone tower” – Diane Dietz story here – is actually a disguised Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, now in the final stages of fueling.

The Duck athletic department, whose leadership has long viewed UO’s faculty as an existential threat, now appears to have the most of the academic side of campus – excepting the new Knight Campus – well within their destructive range.

Administration insiders have reiterated past promises that they would consider a Duck missile launch against the faculty and students as “just cause for firing” under the AD’s new contract – or at least shave a little off his bonuses.

New CIO pauses IT reorg to collect data on current IT services

From the informative transformit.uoregon.edu website:

A message from Jessie Minton, Vice Provost for Information Services and Chief Information Officer:

I am excited to announce an important change in the way the university will proceed with Transform IT. We will first inventory IT services offered across the university, and then we will restructure IT services one by one, guided in part by the recently completed IT Charter.

Previously, we had planned to focus on reworking employees’ reporting lines as a first step in implementation, but as the Blustain report notes, we have IT staff who fill many roles and run multiple services. After careful consideration of the options, I believe that by focusing first on cataloging and analyzing all IT services offered on campus, we can better manage service transitions and merge duplicative services where possible.

This change in approach comes after consulting with Dean of Libraries Adriene Lim, the Office of the Provost, and many of the university’s deans, vice provosts, and vice presidents.

To successfully achieve a service-focused restructuring, we will document and inventory all IT services on campus. Information Services will be the first unit, with UO Libraries next on the list. From there, we will progress through the university until we have surveyed all IT-related services and units. (We will publish a schedule once planning has reached that point.)

For example, the Charter outlines responsibilities for computer lab management, and the service-oriented approach to Transform IT will not modify the arrangement. At the same time, however, in this revised approach, we will consider how computer labs in schools and colleges can be supported and managed more efficiently before we make any significant changes.

The IT services you receive and the people that provide them will not change yet. IT staff should continue working as usual. Although the Charter does note several services that will change ownership, the university will not make such changes until the service inventory has been completed.

Transform IT Project Management Structure
Transform IT Project Management Structure

Guy Eckelberger and Gary Sullivan will continue to work on Transform IT. Prior to May 1st, they were both serving this project in a project management role. As this initiative shifts to focus on services, Guy and Gary will continue their work as co-program managers, providing high-level oversight for the series of projects that will be used to complete the service transitions. To effectively and efficiently gather and analyze information, and plan and execute Transform IT, I have also obtained temporary funding for two project managers and two business analysts. The business analysts will gather and analyze information on IT services and the project managers will plan for and guide us through service transitions.

The IT service research and analysis will begin as soon as at least one business analyst has been hired. I expect the service inventory and analysis work to take six to nine months.

We will post updates on this website every two weeks to keep campus informed about current Transform IT work tasks and the status of the Transform IT program.

I am both eager and excited to launch into the next phase of Transform IT. Please send your thoughts and questions to cio@uoregon.edu.

Four Years a Student-Athlete

Patrick Hruby’s award winning long-form report has one hell of a lede:

While the NCAA’s rules governing college athletes are colorblind, the impact of amateurism is anything but—disproportionately costing black football and men’s basketball players and benefiting white stakeholders by as much as $2 billion a year. …

Today he follows up with more info on the NCAA cartel.

And here’s his earlier piece on the PAC that big-time college sports athletic directors have formed, to lobby for legislation that will protect their ability to extract money from their student-athletes, and make sure the universities don’t siphon off any football money to support academic causes:

Tom McMillen swears this is not what it looks like. Not yet, at least. A former basketball star and member of Congress, McMillen now heads LEAD1, a trade group for college athletic directors at the nation’s biggest sports schools.

Yes, McMillen acknowledges, his group recently announced the formation of a political action committee (PAC), the better to funnel money from its members to campaigns and candidates.

Yes, LEAD1 also will be holding a fall gala at the Trump Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C., where lawmakers will have a chance to mingle with campus power brokers, and the president-elect himself—a longtime acquaintance of McMillen’s—may appear.

Editors of Nature reject UO’s proposed budget metrics and merit pay plan

Nature is of course one of the most prestigious, highest impact science journals. Their editors think UO’s new plan has it backwards. Instead of making decisions about budget and pay based on what faculty have already published, they think we should give money to promising faculty, to do promising new research. Their editorial is not directly about UO’s “new new budget model” but it might as well be: http://www.nature.com/news/don-t-pay-prizes-for-published-science-1.22275

… The custom of rewarding researchers monetarily for single publications is deeply entrenched at Chinese scientific institutions. For many, it is an official policy, written in the bylaws. Zhejiang Agricultural and Forestry University in Lin’An, for example, pays a flat rate of 500,000 yuan for a paper published in CellScience or Nature. And it uses a table with equations to help calculate prizes for publications elsewhere. For any paper in a journal with an impact factor (IF) higher than 10, for example, the prize is IF × 1.5 × 10,000 yuan. According to a People’s Daily news story last year, some 90% of universities have policies of rewarding publications. And the practice is far from unique to China. Scientists in countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia can find themselves similarly rewarded.

That might be good for researchers, and it can be a way for universities to advertise their achievements. Whether it is good for research, in the long term, is a more difficult question. The answer is probably no.

For one thing, it creates a culture in which scientists look at their research as a means to make quick cash. Instead of considering the best way to pursue and expand on experiments, scientists focus on getting the results published.

The emphasis on impact factors, as has been discussed repeatedly in these pages, is greatly overblown. Such metrics already exert undue influence on the evaluation of grants, on hiring and on promotions. Monetary prizes only further inflate the importance of impact factors, at the expense of assessing the significance of what has actually been achieved.

Perhaps more importantly, handing out prizes so soon after publication rewards science that is not yet proven. There is no reason to think that the Sichuan scientists’ discovery — a gene that confers resistance to the fungal disease rice blast — won’t stand up to the scrutiny of post-publication peer review. But what if it doesn’t? Many papers are not necessarily wrong, but their significance might have been overestimated.

Last week’s announcement that this is more a grant than a prize makes an important distinction, but it might point to a more fundamental problem in China, as well as in other countries — a tendency to base grants on past achievement rather than future potential. The rice-blast gene has tremendous practical potential, and the Sichuan scientists might be the right group to exploit it. Or they might have found, based on their research protocol, a number of other avenues for investigation that are unrelated to this gene. Whatever the case, the best way to argue that the group deserves more grant money is through a grant proposal that lays out where the research is heading, and that is fairly evaluated against rival proposals.

Don Tykeson, UO alumnus and fierce supporter, dies at 90

The RG has his obit here. I only met him once, at the Lariviere firing meeting in Portland. He was furious at Pernsteiner, Kitzhaber, and the OUS board. Here’s his op-ed from the Oregonian, published just before that meeting:

On Monday, the State Board of Higher Education will meet to discuss the fate of University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere and, by extension, the future of higher education in Oregon. It is a defining moment for Oregon — a Rose Bowl of policy with far, far higher stakes. Nothing less than Oregon’s children, Oregon’s economy and Oregon’s destiny are on the line.

… Let’s face it: The old way isn’t working anymore. We need a new way. Lariviere proposed one, and for his effort, courage and leadership, he was sacked.

No doubt he ruffled some feathers along the way. That’s what change agents and visionaries do. Surely such extreme punishment exceeds whatever perceived crime he is charged with committing. And make no mistake — the victim here is not Lariviere. He’ll do just fine. The victims are those of us he would leave behind should the board’s decision stand — we who are trying to create jobs, educate our children, grow businesses, make new discoveries and give hope to future generations.

Never in my long life have I seen outrage erupt so swiftly and passionately all across the state. UO students and faculty, who have no representatives on the state board, are mobilizing at an astonishing rate, especially considering that the announcement was made just before the Thanksgiving holiday.

At best the board’s decision is exceedingly controversial. Worse, in my view, it is tragically misguided. It is still not too late to rescind this action and halt the backlash accruing on campus and across this state. Certainly cool minds can come up with a plan that all can embrace and permit us to move forward without such a drastic outcome.

I urge the board to use the skills its very institutions teach — open inquiry, challenging assumptions and creative thinking — to support UO’s quest to save itself and, in so doing, save higher education.

Don Tykeson lives in Eugene.

Sometimes discrimination is subtle, sometimes not

The RG reports on the legal settlement of a case of the latter kind:

… While working as a professor of exercise science, Richardson advised NCU officials in May 2015 that she was an expectant mother. In response, university administrators gave her a choice: If she wanted to keep her job, she needed to either break up with the unborn baby’s father, or get married immediately. After she refused, she was fired. …

OSU’s Jock Mills and Karli Olsen provide thorough legislative session wrap-up

Read it all – many twists and turns. Obviously this has an OSU focus, but particularly towards the end it is filled with info relevant to UO etc.

A Review of the 2017 Legislative Session

With the adjournment of the 2017 legislative session last Friday afternoon, this issue provides a summary of the session, including:

  • The big picture and a prognosis for the next year;
  • How OSU’s legislative priorities fared;
  • Other bills that captured our attention and time; and
  • Acknowledgements for all the help we received over the last seven months. 

The Big Picture

As described in previous updates, the legislature entered the session with a list of “mega issues” that demanded attention in order to balance the budget and address real problems facing Oregonians across the state. Over the course of the session the items on this list ebbed and flowed, but they generally included:

  • Revenue reform (tax increases);
  • Investments in transportation infrastructure;
  • Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) reform;
  • Health care reform, including a health provider tax and bolstering the state-financed health care system that was susceptible to changes at the federal level;
  • Housing affordability; and
  • Overall cost management/cost cutting for state agencies.

Continue reading

University Health Center employees protest discrimination, favoritism

Letter in the Emerald, here:

… In a recent anonymous survey of SEIU 503 members working at the UO Health Center (UHC) – including licensed and non-licensed staff – 83 percent of respondents reported having seen specific coworkers being targeted and held to a different standard than their colleagues. 70 percent have seen disciplinary actions disproportionately impacting isolated members of their department. The vast majority of respondents believe that favoritism runs rampant at UHC in everything from disciplinary action to hiring and retention practices.

“Out of the last five people hired as medical aides, all but one are personal friends of the supervisor,” said one respondent. In many instances, long-time UHC staff members are passed over or prevented outright from applying for management roles. Experienced classified staff members at UHC often feel as though their knowledge and expertise both in the field and at UO is being undermined and belittled. …

Public records office releases names of the entities bidding on discrimination study

7/12/2017 update: 

Dear Mr. Harbaugh:

Below please find the names of the vendors who responded to procurement number 900100-00012-RFP, responsive to your request made on 07/12/2017.

• Berkeley Research Group, LLC
• Gallagher Benefit Services Inc.
• Robert K. Toutkoushian, Ph.D.
• Sibson Consulting

The office considers this be fully responsive to your request, and will now close this matter. Thank you for contacting the office with your request.

Turns out there’s a public records exemption for the full bids, if the public agency is still negotiating. I’ll get them eventually:

(6)(a) Notwithstanding ORS 192.410 to 192.505, proposals may be opened in a manner to avoid disclosing contents to competing proposers during, when applicable, the process of negotiation, but the contracting agency shall record and make available the identity of all proposers as part of the contracting agency’s public records after the proposals are opened. Notwithstanding ORS 192.410 to 192.505, proposals are not required to be open for public inspection until after the notice of intent to award a contract is issued. The fact that proposals are opened at a meeting, as defined in ORS 192.610, does not make the contents of the proposals subject to disclosure, regardless of whether the public body opening the proposals fails to give notice of or provide for an executive session for the purpose of opening proposals.

7/10/2017: Public records office stalls release of public bids on faculty discrimination study

Back in May UO sent out a “Request for Proposals to Conduct Salary Equity Study for the University of Oregon Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty Ranks” as posted below. The bidding closed at 5PM on June 9th. After a decent and proper waiting period, on June 18th I made a public records request for the bids:

From: Bill Harbaugh <wtharbaugh@gmail.com>
Subject: PR request Salary Equity proposals
Date: June 18, 2017 at 10:25:52 PM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for a copy of all bids submitted in response to:

RFP to Conduct Salary Equity Study for the University of Oregon Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty Ranks,
UO General / Budget Control – 900100
UO Central Budget – 950001
PCS Administration – 431150

at https://pcs.uoregon.edu/content/business-opportunities

I ask for a fee-waiver on the basis of public interest.


Bill Harbaugh

On July 6th I followed up, and today I received this response:

Documents responsive to your public records request made 6/18/2017 are currently exempt under ORS 192.502 (9). You are welcome to resubmit your request once the procurement has been awarded.

Our office considers this to be fully responsive to your request and will now close this matter. Thank you for contacting the office with this request.

Really? If that’s true, they could have told me three weeks ago. But is it true? That section of ORS 192 is all about attorney-client privilege – not about bids on public contracts. A quick google search of the handy online version of the DOJ’s PR and PM Manual at http://www.doj.state.or.us/public_records/manual/public_records.shtml says that the bids are public, once bidding is closed:

Bids are confidential, but only prior to the close of the Invitation to Bid and the time set for bid opening. See ORS 279B.055(5)(a) and 279C.365(3)(c) and (4). Once bids have been opened, they are available for public inspection, except to the extent that the bidder has appropriately designated parts of the bid as trade secrets, which may then be exempt from disclosure under ORS 192.501(2), or as information submitted to a public body in confidence, which may be exempt under ORS 192.502(4). See ORS 279B.055(5)(c).

And bidding is unambiguously closed:

I’ve sent the PRO and GCO a request for clarification, on their exemption claim, and will post the response here.

5/16/2017: UO issues RFP for study of gender and racial discrimination

More on this later, this post is just a placeholder. The RFP is here. The main output looks like a simple regression, for which UO will provide the data. I’m no econometrician, but it’s about an hour’s work – maybe two if you look at time trends, instead of just the proposed 2017 snapshot. It will be interesting to see how much the consultants’ bids come in at: