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  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

Bureaucracy Reduction


Existing and new policies run the risk of a hidden cost – increasing the time required by faculty and/or staff for compliance. While this cost may be justified by the risk or benefit underlying the policy, the gradual accretion of these small burdens decreases the productivity of both faculty and staff and that makes it more difficult to pursue the academic mission. Moreover, without examining the time required for compliance, it is impossible to fully understand the cost-benefit of any existing or new policy.

A Working Group has been formed to look into these matters and it needs to develop metrics that quantify bureaucratic overhead. Faculty and staff who are aware of existing policies that result in increased shadow work should relay their thoughts to the Dean of Faculty, taking care to supply as much concrete detail as possible. In addition, faculty and staff volunteers are needed to participate in the scientific assessment of new and existing procedures. As an example, a  volunteer might carefully record the time required to comply with a particular travel reimbursement procedure. Contact the Dean of Faculty  if you would like to serve as a volunteer.

This initiative is not about staff reduction. It is about creating more time for both faculty and staff to work on matters that advance and support the teaching and research mission.

The Working Group

Avery August, Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology -­‐ College of Veterinary Medicine

Joanne DeStefano, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

David Easley, Henry Scarborough Professor of Social Science, Department of Economics – College of Arts and Sciences; Professor of Information Science -­‐ Computing and Information Science

Sol Gruner, John L. Wetherill Professor of Physics, Department of Physics -­‐ College of Arts and Sciences

Michael Kotlikoff, Provost

Paul McEuen, John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science, Department of Physics -­‐ College of Arts and Sciences; Director -­‐ Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanocscale   Science

Mary Opperman, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

Paul Streeter, Vice President for Budget and Planning


Project 1 ( Joanne DeStefano and Avery August)

Study of the new travel system. Use the costs of current travel system as a control and compare it to the costs of the new travel system to be implemented in the next six months. Bench mark faculty and staff time in addition to total process cost.

Project 2 ( Mary Opperman and Paul McEuen)

Help staff, faculty, and administrators work boldly together to tightly align administrative and student support functions with the central teaching and research missions of Cornell. Celebrate and reward creative and innovative staff.

Project 3 (Mike Kotlikoff and Hunter Rawlings)

Discuss with the Provost and Vice Presidents before any policy is changed or created/implemented the need to measure faculty and staff time and total costs.

Project 4 (Paul Streeter and David Easley)

Determine how FY18 budget actions relative to the administration budget might impact work for colleges, departments, and faculty – i.e. what is the downstream impact ultimately on faculty, if any, if we make budget cuts or constrain cost growth in the administration budget.


Report of the College of Arts and Sciences Committee on Streamlining Research Administration (Nov 2015)

Cornell Chronicle article on the working group. (Oct 2016)

Inside Higher Ed Article (Nov 2016)


Last Updated: August 11, 2017 at 6:53 pm