As the summer begins in earnest, we write to update you on several initiatives that have important implications for UCLA and our faculty: UCLA’s Research Administration Hub and Spoke Model, IT Transformation project and Bruin Budget Model.
These initiatives — which respectively aim to improve the delivery of research services; strengthen our information technology and security infrastructure; and position UCLA to thrive in a changing budget environment — represent substantial changes to how UCLA operates, and we appreciate that some faculty have expressed a desire to understand them in greater detail and assist the administration in refining them. While significant faculty consultation has gone into the development of the initiatives, we recognize and wholeheartedly support greater collaboration as they are finalized and rolled out. In the spirit of shared governance, and because the expertise and experience of our academic personnel are essential to shaping the initiatives and ensuring their success, we are committed to maintaining your close involvement in all of these efforts.
Research Administration Hub and Spoke Model
Led by Vice Chancellor for Research and Creative Activities Roger Wakimoto and Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Administration Marcia Smith, the Research Administration Hub and Spoke Model aims to provide principal investigators with better service throughout the contracts and grants process; to reduce financial, compliance and reputational risks to our research enterprise; and to improve efficiency by streamlining processes and better delineating work that is conducted within the central Office of Research Administration (the “hub”) versus work conducted by research administrators within academic units (the “spokes”).
The model will achieve these goals through a variety of strategies focused on improving coordination and collaboration between the ORA and schools and departments. We will build up the expertise of campus research administration staff through ongoing training; establish additional reporting relationships to the ORA for research administrators in schools and large departments; facilitate sharing best practices across the entire campus and strengthen two-way communication between the ORA and academic units; and increase the number of school-based officials who have delegated authority to approve contract and grant transactions. Part of this effort also may include the creation of new research administration service centers to ensure smaller academic units have ample access to services and expertise.
While this project is in its early stages — the Office of Research Administration is still consulting with campus constituencies and developing its project plan — the project structure will include a faculty advisory committee for its duration. Additionally, Vice Chancellor Wakimoto and members of the Office of Research Administration are willing to meet individually with schools and divisions to discuss the model and collect feedback now. They will share more details about this important effort to improve the delivery of research services, as well as opportunities for engagement, in the months ahead.
Under the auspices of Administrative Vice Chancellor Michael Beck and Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Information Officer Lucy Avetisyan, our IT Transformation project focuses on adopting new technology and practices that will improve the IT experience for campus users; support transparency and greater collaboration; and better protect personal and research data.
After discussing the campus’s IT assessment and recommendations with campus stakeholders over the past six months, the project leaders are now in the final stages of publishing an IT Transformation roadmap that will guide this project’s implementation. The roadmap will include details related to each component of the transformation including activities, timing, and key benefits and risks. Those who have been closely involved may note several updates that were made based on feedback received from the campus: For example, we have reworked the dotted line reporting relationship between leaders within the hub and spoke structure; and we have adjusted the list of services that will be provided at the hub level versus those that will be offered as opt-in solutions.
The leaders of this project will continue to consult broadly with faculty and the wider campus about these changes to our IT solutions and processes. That said, based on guidance we have received from internal and external experts, some of the information security and related projects must move forward imminently to reduce risk to academic and administrative systems, reduce risk to faculty research and elevate UCLA’s overall security posture.
To learn more about these efforts, we invite you to review the IT assessment reports and browse the frequently asked questions on the IT Transformation website.
Bruin Budget Model
The Bruin Budget Model, a project led by Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Gregg Goldman and Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Planning and Budget Jeff Roth, is UCLA’s new system for establishing annual and multi-year budgets for academic and administrative organizations. It aims to better align campus resources with the cost drivers of activities, create incentives for units to be entrepreneurial in generating revenue, establish a strong central investment fund and simplify funding for non-academic units.
As was announced in May, in recognition of the tumultuous past year and in an effort to provide the opportunity for greater consultation about and evaluation of the Bruin Budget Model, we delayed the implementation of the model from fiscal year 2021-22 to fiscal year 2022-23.
While we have worked with staff and faculty for more than three years to prepare for this transition and have endeavored to be responsive to recommendations about how we should tweak the model — for instance, we made a change in the tax treatment for self-supporting programs and gifts and endowments, and made adjustments to increase the weight of student credit hours associated with interdisciplinary teaching — we recognize that such a major shift merits even more study and discussion. By delaying the go-live date we will have additional opportunities to engage with you: Starting in the fall, Vice Chancellor Gregg Goldman and his team will host weekly events of various kinds to provide more opportunities for faculty and staff to hear from leaders and provide input. In addition, we will work with Senate leaders and colleagues on the Council on Planning and Budget to further their analysis.
We recognize that the past year — rife with disruptions, pressing challenges and the adoption of new ways of working and communicating — has not been as conducive to collecting feedback on these major change initiatives as we might have hoped. Still, we have worked hard to garner broad input from the campus and will redouble our efforts to do so in the future, all in service of enacting smart, evidence-based changes to UCLA’s administrative structures that promote equity, efficiency, simplicity, transparency, security and excellence. We believe strongly in the need for these changes to help keep UCLA at the forefront of excellent public higher education, and remain thankful for your support, engagement and collaboration.
Gene D. Block
Emily A. Carter
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost