Higher-ed efficiency reforms signed into law

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OLYMPIA—A package of efficiency reforms that will enable colleges and universities to cut administrative costs and redirect savings to serving students was signed into law today by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

“This is regulatory relief for college students that will cut bureaucratic costs and generate savings at every two- and four-year college in the state,” said state Rep. Larry Springer (D-Kirkland), who sponsored the bill and led its passage through the Legislature.

University of Washington President Michael Young said enactment of the efficiency reforms will enable colleges to focus less on red tape and more on the core mission of serving students.

“House Bill 2585 is a significant win for the higher-education community,” said Young. “This legislation includes a set of comprehensive, common-sense reforms that will help ensure our dollars support students, not more bureaucracy. I commend the Legislature for their work on this bill, and look forward to implementing these reforms on our campuses immediately.”

The reforms in the new law (House Bill 2585):

Allow streamlined competitive-bidding that takes less time and paperwork to complete for purchases of $100,000 or less.  The streamlined requirements also apply to personal-service contracts.

  • Let colleges lock in bargain rates by paying in advance for long-term maintenance contracts. 
  • Cut paperwork costs by facilitating direct deposit of salaries and wages and allowing alternative methods of payments such as payroll cards.
  • Provide more flexibility in making and paying for travel arrangements, so long as the methods used work “in the most cost-effective and efficient manner possible.”

“These reforms could save the University of Washington alone nearly a million dollars,” said Springer.  “After being hit with years of budget cuts because of the Great Recession, our colleges and universities need all the help they can get.”

Colleges are directed to report in the year 2017 on how much they have saved through these reforms and how the savings were used to promote student academic success.

Gov. Gregoire vetoed a section of the bill that would have given colleges and universities more flexibility in health-care employee compensation, to help them be more competitive with similar positions in the institution’s locality.

 

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