UO provides safe space for anonymous comments about IT reorganization

8/27/2016: 

For years the UO administration has harassed me over this blog’s policy of honoring Ben Franklin’s Silence Dogood’s precedent of anonymous criticism. But our new leadership is actually encouraging people to submit comments to the Blustain report on IT reorganization anonymously.

However, while the New-England Courant put Ms Dogood’s letters and responses out there for everyone to see, two-hundred and ninety-four years later that is still a bit too revolutionary for the University of Oregon. The comments you submit will only be seen by authorized persons. So if you do use their google form, you might consider also pasting your ideas into the comments anonymously here too, so that your colleagues can see them and respond. I’ll pass it all on to the House of Lords.

Official release of the Blustain report here:

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More, and anonymous reporting form here:

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8/12/2016: Blustain’s comments on “The Oregon Way” leak out:

Back in 2011, former VPFA Frances Dyke paid consultants from Huron  $1.789M to write a report on the VPR’s office that included this definition of “The Oregon Way”:

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How much has UO spent on lawyers to fight our grad students?

12/6/2014 update: New reports on legal and consulting expenses, here. Some to HLGR for GTFF bargaining, some for the UOPD union,  some for things JH really doesn’t want to attach an accounting code to:

Legal:

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Consulting:

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11/6/2014 update: I don’t know, I’m crowd-sourcing this one:

In response to questions about the total cost of the hiring HLGR for the GTFF bargaining, here are links to some public records on legal (and consulting) expenses. File dates are approximate and a mix of xls and the badly scanned pdfs Dave Hubin’s public records office sends out to make life harder, but I think I’ve got complete coverage from 2011 to the end of October. If someone wants to put together a spreadsheet for just the GTFF costs please email me a copy and I’ll post it.

2011-2013 legal billing

2013 – June 2014 legal

1/1/2013-9/15/2014 consulting and 6/1/2014-9/18/2014 legal

Sept and October 2014 legal and consulting.

(new) October 2014 legal and consulting.

(link fixed)
Here’s a sample of a detailed HLGR invoice from the faculty union bargaining, after redactions by our General Counsel’s office:

I’ve made a PR request for the September 2014 invoices, which should show more about what Rudnick, Matthews, and Grado are doing to justify the astonishingly expensive GTFF bargaining:

Subject: Re: Public Records Request 2015-PRR-092
Date: November 5, 2014 at 4:48:17 PM PST
Cc: doug park <dougpark@uoregon.edu>
To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>

Dear Ms Thornton –

Thanks for these accounting reports.

This is a public records request for the six detailed HLGR invoices with transactions dates of 24-Sep-14.

I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest. Because of the timeliness of issues around HLGR’s work for UO on GTFF bargaining and other issues, I would appreciate it you could expedite this request.

I’m ccing Doug Park on this request as his office has these documents and can easily make them available.

Thanks,

Bill Harbaugh
UO Prof of Economics
http://harbaugh.org

11/5/2014: Coltrane still letting Frohnmayer’s HLGR firm rake in the billable hours

It took another petition to the Lane County DA, but at least Doug Park didn’t accuse me of harassment this time. here are the latest HLGR billing numbers. Presumably UO was sitting on these because they didn’t want the grad students to know how much Coltrane was willing to pay noted tobacco company lawyer Sharon Rudnick and Jeff Matthews to bargain against them:

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Of course some of those invoices are probably for other things, like negotiating Gottfredson’s buyout, or perhaps for dealing with the rape allegation cover-up. And here are the consulting payments – looks like Huron is back:

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9/26/2014: Has Coltrane fired Sharon Rudnick and Frohnmayer’s HLGR law firm?

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Shelton reports that Espy brought in a 13% increase in UO research grants

9/21/2014 update: That may even have been more than the latest increase in the athletics budget. The report from UO’s astonishingly well paid new VP for research Brad Shelton is here. Oregon State has a real-time dashboard showing their data, here. If anyone knows where the full UO report is please put the link in the comments, thanks.

5/20/2013 updated Updated: Beavers crush Ducks in Civil War for research money, with athletic spending number chart, and at the bottom, some salary and consulting payment info from Espy’s office.

Diane Dietz has the story and data on UO here. I got the OSU data from their very complete Research Office data page, here. Both are “Federal Flow Through” totals, which are the easiest to find directly comparable data. They include spending on outreach and instruction, but it’s mostly research money and the trends look similar no matter how you cut it. That’s the table on the left. The table on the right shows athletic department spending, from USAToday. (Official UO and OSU numbers for 2012.)

University desperately seeking short-term relationship with a human

resources manager. JH is in total meltdown. They have lost control of payroll, accounting, and basic human resources management, and they’ve put out an emergency bid for consultants. Deadline now extended to June 10. The last time this happened we paid Huron millions. The bid info is on the OUS website: https://secure.ous.edu/bid/opportunities/1654

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4/16/2014 Now verified, Mark Yuran gone as UO Chief HR Officer

Sent on behalf of Jamie Moffitt:

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Gottfredson glosses over the criticism of Espy in Blonigen’s report

2/28/2014 update: The word down at the faculty club breakfast buffet is increasing dismay over President Gottfredson’s dismissive response to the Blonigen report, particularly that word “endorsing”.

2/21/2014 update: President Gottfredson and Provost Coltrane have now posted their response to the Blonigen report, here. While they now acknowledge the need to address UO’s dysfunctional research policies and practices, they give only the slightest nod to the serious problems regarding VP Espy’s leadership that are raised in the report. They’ll acknowledge “areas of discontent”, but they will not acknowledge that failures of leadership created the discontent. Gottfredson thinks the faculty will believe him when he says “the report endorses the overall approach and efforts of Vice President for Research”? This is not the message of the Blonigen report, and this is not the “truth and reconciliation” we need from Gottfredson and Coltrane in order to move forward:

… We appreciate that the report endorses the overall approach and efforts of Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School Kimberly Espy and the RIGE staff. When Dr. Espy arrived on campus in 2011, she faced an array of challenges affecting research office operations and our research mission. The report and the appendices cite the notable accomplishments of the office since 2011, and endorse RIGE’s current direction. The report also identifies areas of discontent and opportunities for improvement in research oversight. We recognize the value in highlighting these concerns and we are committed to addressing them to strengthen research at the UO. In this regard, the report provides us with a valuable framework to consider as we move forward. …

Regards,
Michael Gottfredson, President
Scott Coltrane, Provost

2/19/2014: This originally came up in the Senate last year as a motion for a vote of no confidence in VP for Research Kimberly Espy. The Senate decided we needed more information and proposed a review of Espy. Under pressure from the administration this morphed into a less pointed review of Research, Innovation and Graduate Education in general. I explicitly asked if the review committee could return with a recommendation that UO needed a new VP for Research, and was told yes, that would be a potential outcome. Senate minutes here. President Gottfredson’s charge to interim Dean for Social Science Bruce Blonigen was more general, calling for a review of UO Research and RIGE. The committee had some trouble getting started, and ended up noticeably light on science PIs.

The report is now out, here, supplemental material here (page to bottom for Espy’s powerpoints), the motion is here, and for history Geri Richmond’s 2013 “Research Advisory Report” is here, and a link to the 2011 Huron report is here. I don’t have time to dig through this just now, informed comments from those who do would be very welcome.

5PM today is the deadline to file a motion for a vote of no confidence at the 3/12 Senate meeting (but they typically give a day or two grace period, and of course the Senate Exec can add a motion up to a week before the meeting.)

Update: From the report (emphasis added). While the report apparently hasn’t yet been posted on the RIGE or President’s website, or made it to “Around the O”, Senate President Margie Paris sent it to senators this morning. My view is that this is a balanced report that explains the tough situation Espy inherited, but then pulls only a few punches when explaining point by point how she has failed to deal with UO’s existing research problems, while adding many new problems of her own creation. There is more than enough here for people to make an informed vote on a motion of no confidence in VP Espy:

RECOMMENDATION 4: The communication and collaboration issues between RIGE and a number of important research communities at the UO need immediate attention. As discussed in the report, there is a wide spectrum of communication and collaboration experiences between RIGE and various groups on campus. This ranges from good working relationships to some that are clearly broken. There were enough concerns and issues that our committee recommends they be addressed in ways that go well beyond simply a call for renewed efforts for improved communication and collaboration; indeed, these issues appear to be the main impetus for this report. This is an urgent matter and will need direct attention and substantial leadership from the Provost and President in determining the best course of action.

RECOMMENDATION 6: Inform UO community of responses to this report. Many of the major themes in this report can be found in the prior reports by the Huron Consulting Group in 2011 and the Research Advisory Panel, a special committee that was organized by and reported to Provost Jim Bean, in 2013. Although there are indications that the administration has taken some actions to respond to the findings and recommendations of these reports, they have not been publicly communicated. In order to avoid another review by a special committee in the future, we strongly advise a plan to publicly communicate responses to this report.

… The repeated statements of consternation and confusion among almost all groups we interviewed about the internal policies, procedures, and practices of RIGE show an ongoing problem with transparency, which has generated a widespread lack of trust in RIGE’s dealings with the campus community. RIGE has made a number of substantial decisions regarding research activity in the research areas of the RIGE leaders, particularly the formation of the Prevention Sciences Institute, without any formal processes for oversight, except for ultimate oversight by the Provost. In order to reestablish confidence, there should be systematic and regular reviews of RIGE at the administrative level, both for the VP of RIGE and for the members of the RIGE leadership team. There should also be clear and explicit processes for oversight, particularly for issues where there may be conflicts of interest.

This is a kick-ass report. The simplest interpretation of “In order to reestablish confidence …” is that there currently is none. This will make for an easy Senate vote, and the rest of the report is full of sensible and constructive proposals for moving forward.

2/22/2014 update: According to the comments, VP Espy put her $1.25M house on the market yesterday, 2 days after the Senate report went public.

AAU, Bean, Espy rumors

The latest rumors, from the faculty club hookah room:

UO is now on an unofficial AAU watch list for underperformance – not enough federal grants or grad students. Johnson Hall is going to try and hang our expulsion on the faculty, or the union, or the weather, but we all know where Frohnmayer and Bean spent our research money – athletics and a pack of stupid pet projects.

The faculty are no longer wondering about Bean’s wisdom in hiring a VP for Research from Nebraska, the most recent university to be dropped by the AAU. Instead people are openly calling this the last mistake Gottfredson should ever let Bean make. After some high profile science departures and botched searches, Bean has a classic Dilbert response: he’s hired an “executive coach” to teach Espy (whom we pay $295,000) how to do her job.

I’d make a public records request for that contract, but what’s the point? Everyone knows the score, we just don’t understand why Gottfredson is leaving these two in the game. Tublitz’s Senate motion on Interim Provost Bean is Jan 16th. Should be a fun debate – and yes Jim, the video will be on youtube. 12/11/12.

And a commenter points us to this RFP that UO put out 2 weeks ago, for a consulting firm to do what Espy and her new hires are supposed to do. In FY 2011 the VPR’s Office Admin budget had $437,430 for admin salaries. For FY 2013, Espy’s got $1,111,007 to spend. Full report here. The consultants are on top of that. As a commenter notes:

Look at Acct code 20000 – Service and Supplies. That’s Espy’s black hole of consulting:
2011 $2,164,191
2012 $4,546,478
2013 $5,154,632

Speaking of administrative bloat, does anyone know what happened with that multi-million dollar Huron consulting contract? Is it worth me getting attacked by Dave Hubin and Jamie Moffitt for making too many public records requests? If so, you know what it takes for me to dull that pain.

Science start-up debacle

1/28/2012: From an anonymous commenter:

Having squandered millions in excessive administrative budget increases, remodeling their offices, golden parachutes, and other brilliant ideas, Johnson Hall’s solution for science startups is to spend against reserves in the humanities and social sciences. Despite having the least funding per student on campus, these programs and the college in which they reside have exercised the financial discipline and responsibility so lacking centrally, and so they have slowly accumulated substantial reserves over the last decade. These are funds they or their college on their behalf, could spend to support the humanities and social sciences.

Instead, Johnson Hall is expropriating the reserves by forcing CAS to use them for science startups without any provision for even partial repayment from the Research office. Repayment could be done slowly by promising a small share of future overhead, but ‘no, we’re in charge,’ said our czars. The longstanding ‘covenant’ with the research office has been that they receive and allocate all grant overhead. In return they assume primary responsibility for startup packages for hires anticipated to receive substantial grants. Having broken that covenant, they now demand that the humanities and social sciences, the least well-funded programs per student on campus to fix their failures.

Were did the money go? Athletics, in part. Jim Bean made the call to spend $1.8 million a year of general funds on the Jock Box tutoring operation. And he’s so proud of that he wrote an Op-Ed for the Oregonian about it. Clueless.

UO F&A rate to increase to 45%

1/20/2012: It’s currently 42%, the lowest in the AAU, I believe. 45% is still very low. I think it was 50% when I got my first NSF grant here, falling ever since. Memo from VP for Res Kim Espy here. Obviously they tried very hard to boost it, paid a bunch to consultants, and had some success. What’s the big deal? Low rates mean less money for UO to support research. UO can’t negotiate a higher rate with the feds because UO does not spend enough money supporting research. Why don’t we? Because Dave Frohnmayer, Lorraine Davis, John Moseley, Linda Brady and Frances Dyke pissed the money away on their pet projects. Police? Renovating Johnson Hall? Diversity plans? Arena? Alumni palace? That started a vicious negative cycle. Rich Linton didn’t have the guts to stand up to them. And Linton completely messed up ORSA, so now we are paying Huron exorbitant fees just to manage our grants. So there is not even enough money left in the research pot to pay for startup for the new science professors that we need to bring in grants to stay in the AAU. Forget about funding the research institutes and centers. Shelton’s budget model didn’t account for the possibility that things would be this badly messed up. So Espy is hitting up Coltrane to spend some CAS tuition money on this – or at least let her borrow some of it. But there’s only so much student money to go around, not helped by the fact that Bean has been letting the athletic department take $1.83 million a year for the Jock Box, and now $180,000 for his own sabbatical. And Bob Berdahl thinks UO’s biggest enemy is George Pernsteiner?

New profs to get bitchin 4×4’s instead of labs

1/11/2012: At the Senate meeting today Institute for Neuroscience director Shawn Lockery raised the very reasonable question of where UO was going to get the startup money for the 20 new science hires that Russ Tomlin has authorized. A new science hire can easily expect $1 million or so to get their lab up and running – money that UO eventually gets back in grant overhead and in the prestige of staying in the R1 AAU category.

But it turns out that former VP for Research Rich Linton and former VPFA Frances Dyke have blown all the startup money on junk ranging from remodeling the General Counsel’s Office in Johnson Hall to the Huron contracts to Bean’s 5 pet ideas to ???? It’s not clear what will happen next. Will Scott Coltrane come up with the money? Out of whose hide?

My suggestion? If we can’t give them a lab, let’s at least let them have their pick of UO Police Chief Doug Tripp’s new 4×4 cruisers – since that’s where Dyke spent a bunch of the money that should have gone to research.

And as a commenter asks, where was Provost Jim Bean while all this was going on? Asleep, or just clueless as usual?

Portland, Huron, Diversity

12/30/2011: Readers have asked me to get information on the cost and plans for UO – Portland, for the Huron consulting contracts, and for info on the VP for Diversity search. I’ve been asking VP for Portland Wendy Larson for the Portland info, and I’ve filed PR requests for Huron and Diversity.

Rumor has it that Portland is losing ~$3.5 million a year, that the Huron contracts are not shrinking, and that there are three finalists for the campus visits for the VP for diversity Let me know if you have any specific tips or questions on these issues.

Huron report, phase ii

6/8/2011: Rich Linton and Frances Dyke have now posted the phase II Huron report, here – a 143 page powerpoint. It doesn’t make them look like very good managers. President Lariviere has fired Linton from his VP for Research job, and has hired a search firm and posted an ad for a replacement for Dyke, to start ASAP. Rumor has it that Linton will get a job running some sort of UO PeaceHealth research consortium, while Dyke will be given a sinecure for the last year of her contract. A few excerpts from the report.

The University of Oregon has a culture with a high reliance on “the Oregon Way” as a justification for inaction, acceptance of the status quo, and slow response on a variety of efforts, which fosters an environment with a lack of accountability and willingness to change.

There is a general sense of entitlement across the University of Oregon. Individuals do not recognize the limitations of their own relative skill sets or thoroughly understand their place within the organization. The broader community believes they have a right to weigh in and be updated on management decisions but do not want to dedicate the time and effort to participate in meetings or discussions on the issues.

In ORSA and the broader community, there is a strong resistance to changes in any business process and the progress can only be gradual. The slow pace of implementing change within ORSA can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as a lack of trust in the current Huron leadership and lack of appreciation for the “big picture” or best practice, based upon Huron’s experience working with other major research institutions. Staff has voiced concerns about change for change sake and “ulterior motives” of the Huron team.

I’m wondering if they have also extended the Huron contract. And yes, as a member of the “broader community” – that is, part of the faculty – I believe I have the right to be updated on management decisions!

Lucrative contract leads to investigation

5/3/2011: In the Oregonian. This is the DAS Facilities Division. They only paid the consultant $90 an hour. The people in charge have been placed on leave by the new DAS Director, and are now under investigation. Meanwhile, UO is paying one of the Huron consultants $250 an hour. I can’t figure out if any of their contract was bid out or not – anyone know?

Linton and Dyke: Shit happens

4/26/2010:  Read it all. Full text here.

This is an astoundingly revealing letter to the UO research community, from VP for Research Rich Linton and VP for Finance and Administration Frances Dyke. Both senior administrators are now leaving their jobs. Linton was fired did not have his contract renewed by Lariviere last year and has been replaced by Kim Espy, after a national search – she was the committee’s favorite. The search to replace Frances Dyke started last month. (A search which includes some faculty representation only after protests to Provost Bean, who had stacked the original committee.)

Strip out the self-serving soul-destroying bureaucratic double-speak in their letter (whom do you two think you are fooling at this point, besides yourselves?) and it verifies the basic story we’ve been posting for the past 2 years:

Ms Dyke and former President Frohnmayer spent too much UO research money on their own pet administrative projects, and too little on research support. Linton didn’t stand up to them, so the feds cut our ICC rate to 42% – the lowest I’ve ever heard of.

Linton then made a very unfortunate hire for head of ORSA and failed to supervise her, even after repeated warnings from the UO research community. After the collapse of the office, Linton and Dyke hired the Huron Consulting firm – at a cost of nearly $2 million, paid out of the shrunken ICC research funds that are supposed to support science – to bail the UO administration out of that hole, and help keep it all covered up. (Huron was already on site, working on a small consulting contract.)

UO Matters had to make a petition to the Oregon Attorney General and then pay UO’s public records officer Liz Denecke to get the documentation on this. Ms Denecke is trying to charge us still more money to see the Huron reports – and Linton and Dyke have ignored our request that they give these up. In their letter they say they will release the final report, already delayed by months – but don’t mention the interim reports. Not exactly transparent.

But the real question is this: Why did Linton and Dyke write this letter? It’s far more revealing than anything we’ve heard from the UO administration in years, and at the same time it is astonishingly self-serving and incomplete.

Did President Lariviere make them do it before he signed their retirement contracts – as he made Mike Bellotti sit there at that press conference and take it, in order to get his $2.3 million payoff? Or did UO’s new VP for Research, Kim Espy, insist that they clean up their own mess before they bail? Or did the Huron consulting firm get tired of looking like the bad guys, and make UO write it?

Why does it matter? Because the only hope for UO is that President Richard Lariviere is getting really, really pissed, and that he kicks some administrative ass. Now. Fire them for cause. Have Doug Tripp stand there with his Tazer while they clean out their offices. Search their pockets for the uttermost farthing. No more golden parachutes. And then start digging around for what else is buried under Johnson Hall and the Jock Box.

Thanks, I feel much better now. What? Of course I’m a team player. Sure – let’s all pull together and go in for the big win. OK, I’ll get with the program, and drop the PR requests and the FOIA too.

But where is our research money?