Critical issue 5: Governance, funding, structure
How IT governance, funding, and structure can be improved to advance UC
Berkeley's IT Guiding Principles, and effectively and optimally serve
the IT needs of users for teaching and learning, research and discovery,
and student services and administration.
Interim results of the self-study
An overview of information
technology at UC Berkeley A portrait of fragmentation
For reasons that are partly historical, partly cultural, and partly
reflective of the sheer complexity of a modorn research university, UC
Berkeley's structure of governance for defining and funding its
information technology (IT) investments is distributed across a wide
variety of advisory committees, academic departments, and administrative
units. There is no common approach to decision-making or any common
forum for making final comprehensive assessments of the IT funding
strategy for the campus as a whole. At its best, this structure affords
the University's divisions and departments a striking capacity for
technological innovation and entrepreneurship free of central
administrative constraints. At its worst, this results in a divided
community of IT "haves and have-nots", riddled with procurement cost
inefficiencies, missed application and service improvement opportunities,
and constant confusion over IT standards, policies, and priorities. In
short, an IT enterprise that is ultimately less than the sum of its
The good news is that UC Berkeley possesses a world-class IT network
infrastructure and staff. There are examples throughout the Berkeley
campus of excellent IT service delivery and expert project management
approaches to IT proposal assessment and budgeting that enable decision
makers to make careful trade-offs among cost and performance goals as
these are measured against a clear set of IT investment objectives. The
challenge is to weave these best practices into a transparent and
comprehensive process for reaching campus-level IT funding decisions
while ensuring some common set of minimal service standards for all
units and departments. This needs to be done while also assuring the
continued freedom of all units and departments to exceed those service
minimums, and to develop unique customer applications, whenever they
have the skills and resources to do so. Indeed, a deep antipathy toward
more centralized decision-making as an antidote to organizational
fragmentation is perhaps the most universally expressed value
articulated by participants in this self-study. However, the
organizational fragmentation is real both on the IT demand side (in
terms of where discussions of IT needs are held and where decisions
about IT funding are made) and on the supply side (in terms of how many
units provide separate customer support help desks, for both application
development and routine support). And it is this fragmentation that
makes the coordination and comparison (not centralization) of multiunit
and campuswide IT investment decisions such an extraordinarily daunting
Five major governance and
The IT investment process is disconnected from the campus
funding and budgeting process. Initiatives or ideas for improvement of
IT policies, applications, major new administrative systems, or
network infrastructure may arise anywhere on the campus. One
challenge is that there is currently no process for structuring
these ideas and initiatives as formal "proposals" with common features
(e.g., resource requirements, expected costs and benefits, relevance
to campus priorities) that can be easily compared. In any case, the
set of discussions held about these ideas and initiatives by members of
the various IT advisory committees, often culminating in a
discussion by the e-Berkeley steering committee, currently provide a
fairly good opportunity to ensure that such ideas and initiatives are
discussed and debated by a wide variety of administrative, faculty,
and student representatives. However, none of these discussions
culminates directly in an actual funding decision, save for the very
small pot of money the e-Berkeley steering committee has on hand for
so-called "innovation projects" (about $100K per year compared to a
total of nearly $135 million spent annually on IT at UC Berkeley).
The process for actually budgeting for and funding IT investments on
campus is comprised of a separate, and not always parallel, set of
discussions. In colleges, schools, and departments, IT funding
proposals tend to make their way up to the deans, who may or may not
have the resources to fund them or to build them internally. In
administrative units, such proposals tend to make their way up to
the individual vice chancellors, who, again, may or may not have the
resources to build them internally or to buy them from another
provider (on or off campus). Ultimately, these proposals make their
way into the budget request of an individual dean or vice chancellor,
to the office of budget and finance, and ultimately to the executive
vice chancellor and provost. Discussions tend to focus on how much
of the overall budget request will be granted, not on its individual
components (unless there is a major new initiative proposed). There
is nothing in the governance structure that would cause these
various IT-related budget requests to be considered in more detail,
in comparison, or comprehensively, as a group. Nor is there
anything to ensure that the advice and recommendations of the
advisory committees are systematically applied to the department-
and unit-specific budget and funding decisions. Thus there is no sure
way to view proposals for IT funding that involve more than one
department or unit comprehensively across the entire campus, to
trade-off one multiunit IT request or proposal against all the
others, or to consider how a decision to fund one multiunit IT
proposal may affect the technical and financial prospects for
starting or sustaining all the rest into the future.
A "silo-specific" and incremental budgeting approach is applied to
central administrative systems. Even after the establishment and
campuswide roll out of new central administrative systems, such as
the Human Resource Management System (HRMS), these systems are still
treated in the annual budget process as if they belong to the single
administrative unit or vice chancellor that has functional
responsibility for operating the system. Instead of being treated
as a permanent campus-level commitment, which implies significant
nondiscretionary spending each year going forward, these systems
are reviewed as part of an individual vice chancellor's annual
budget request for incremental new funding. For example, the
request for additional funding for BFS (Berkeley Financial System)
would be in acting VC Webster's budget request for his unit; the
comparable request for the HRMS system would be in acting VC
Lustig's individual budget request for BAS. Yet virtually every
academic department and administrative unit on campus is devoting
significant human and financial resources to the population and
operation of these campuswide data bases. The current
budget and funding process obscures the true nature of the costs of
maintaining, much less expanding, these central administrative
systems, whose yearly budgets cannot be simply traded off annually
against new proposals for IT spending (including proposed spending
for other new central administrative systems, such as a new
campuswide course management system, which right now would come as
an individual request from Vice Provost Maslach). And, again,
although some of these strategic issues are discussed in the various
IT advisory committees and the e-Berkeley steering committee, those
discussions are disconnected from the annual budget reviews where
actual funding decisions are made.
The AVC-IT/CIO does not manage (or necessarily know about)
two-thirds or more of the IT activity on campus. Although the
associate vice chancellor for information technology now
also carries the title of chief information officer, his span of
control does not in fact include two-thirds or more of the IT
activity on campus. This creates two challenges. First, the
AVC-IT/CIO is often expected to develop comprehensive strategic
plans for campus IT investment even though no academic department or
administrative unit other than IST is obligated to inform him of
its own IT needs or plans. The local department IT services are
often provided based on technologies that are not compatible with
other campus units. Second, the independent IT organizations within
some administrative units and academic departments have now evolved
to a point where they actually compete with (or at least provide an
alternative to) IST for providing other units and departments with
development assistance for customer applications or for providing
routine workstation and desktop support. Yet part of the AVC-IT/CIO's
job is the "care and feeding" of the employees of IST, which
derives a substantial portion of its budget by charging to provide
Central administrative roles are unclear with respect to
instructional computing, research computing, and campus IT services.
IST is responsible for the campus voice and data network;
enterprise systems (financial, personnel, email, student, research,
etc.); secure operational facilities; site licenses; and connections
to UC, national, and international infrastructures (e.g., CENIC,
Internet2, Commercial Internet, systemwide payroll, supercomputing,
California Digital Library, Melvyl, systemwide data, etc.). As the
primary central administrative unit clearly responsible for IT,
many people on campus mistakenly presume that IST is also
ultimately responsible for providing routine workstation and desktop
support and development assistance for customer applications to any
academic department or administrative unit on campus. Although IST
has developed a limited capacity to provide these services, basic
responsibility for both support and development assistance evolved a
long time ago from within the individual departments and units.
Similarly, the office of the vice chancellor for research is often
thought to be responsible for "research computing" on campus. Yet
requests for funding for various research computing initiatives and
improvements are often made by individual PIs either to their
department chairs, their deans, or to the directors of an organized
research unit (ORU). Most of the ORUs report to the vice
chancellor for research, but currently there is no formal process by
which she can view all of the various research computing requests
that come to deans, ORU directors, or in grant proposals processed by
the Sponsored Projects Office. So it is very difficult, if not
impossible, for her to represent the campus demand for research
computing in a comprehensive manner in the annual budget process for
her unit. The challenge is even greater, perhaps, for the vice
provost for undergraduate education, who has executive management
responsibility for the Educational Technology Service, but has no
real way to track or coordinate the individual experiments and
requests for funding that arise from hundreds of faculty and
graduate student instructors who are using IT in their teaching all
across the campus. Finally, as noted, the dozen or more IT advisory
committees, including the e-Berkeley steering committee, have
virtually no formal role in the process by which spending for IT on
campus is actually budgeted, so, not surprisingly, many members of
these committees express confusion about exactly what their role in
the process is supposed to be. Yet people "outside" of the process
tend to view IST, the e-Berkeley steering committee, the Vice
Chancellor for Research and the Vice Provost for Undergraduate
Instruction as being "in charge" of the IT activities that are
supposedly under their "jurisdiction".
There is no mechanism to encourage IT managers to migrate toward
"best practice" for either customer application development or
workstation and desktop support. At UC Berkeley, there are more than a
dozen IT organizations based in academic departments or
administrative units (including more than one group within IST)
that provide a telephone or web-based help desk for customers
seeking help with routine workstation and desktop problems or the
development of customer applications. Some of these organizations
use state-of-the-art request-tracking software, helping to deliver
efficient service and quick customer feedback. Others simply rely
on individuals to return phone calls and fix problems on a
first-come, first-served basis or on a "squeaky wheel gets the
grease" basis. For many people on campus, this lack of consistency
creates feelings of annoyance and frustration, either with their own
unit's or department's independent IT organization or with IST, on
an almost daily basis. These feelings seem to color their view of
the entire IT enterprise at UC Berkeley. Other people on campus,
whose needs for service are managed effectively and consistently by
ultraresponsive online, telephone, or in-person support, report
higher levels of satisfaction with their own support situation and
with the entire campus IT organization. The system is so fragmented
that there is no opportunity (or reason) for one "service provider"
to partner with other provider groups, or be compared systematically
to one another in terms of efficiency or effectiveness; thus there
is no incentive for managers to adopt organizational routines or
products (such as help desk software) that are used by the units
that seem to be doing the best job and that have the most satisfied
Illustrative IT services provided on campus
- Many campus email servers.
- CalMail service (including subdomains) about 61 percent of campus email activity.
- About 200 mail servers in departments handle the remaining 39 percent.
- Multiple administrative platforms.
- UC Berkeley supports Windows (several versions) and
Mac operating systems for its priority 1 enterprise
systems (BFS, HRMS, BIS, BAIRS, etc.).
- Several secure 24x7 operations centers.
- IST data center.
- Other significant centers throughout campus (e.g., EECS,
Haas, Residential Computing, L&S, etc.).
- Multiple application development and hosting sites.
- Hundreds of departmental websites designed, hosted, and supported independently.
- Dual ezSurePay (local and at UCOP).
- No single travel system.
- Many course management systems (bSpace, WebCT, Blackboard, Haas, Campus OMS, etc.).
- Many portals (BIS reporting, HRMS, Haas, etc.).
- Dual payroll processing (campus and at UCOP).
- Active directory root support.
- Centrally and locally managed access points for wireless network.
- Several credit-card payment systems.
- Several GIS systems.
- Several independent efforts for development of IT support for academic collections.
- Multiple approaches to off-site data storage and backups.
- Decentralized management of hardware and software maintenance contracts.
Illustrative gaps in IT services at UC Berkeley
- No integrated Berkeley portal.
- No unified approach to spam filtering.
- No roles-based authorization system.
- No unified approach to firewalls.
- No content management system for web apps.
- No digital asset management system.
- No single departmental business resumption planning approach.
- No general archive facility for storage of large datasets.
- No single calendar system for students.
- No unified email addressing space.
- No integrated "personal information management" (PIM) systems.