Oklahoma colleges and universities are evaluating the benefits of
using private businesses to manage or operate university programs,
provide services or conduct public projects, according to the
Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
In October, the regents approved a contract with MGT of America
Inc. to conduct a study on privatization that analyzes Oklahoma
higher education's outsourcing efforts and compares the state's
level of privatization to states with similar characteristics such
as size, location, programs and student body.
"The State Regents have initiated this survey with the support of
the governor and director of state finance to determine how Oklahoma
colleges and universities are streamlining operations while
minimizing cost," said Chancellor Hans Brisch. "This survey gives us
the opportunity to evaluate our attempts to outsource services and
to determine viable methods of privatization that will benefit
schools, students and the state."
According to the report, Oklahoma higher education has seriously
taken into consideration opportunities to more effectively and
efficiently use state funds through privatization of business
affairs and auxiliary enterprise activities.
The study shows that outsourcing has increased from an average of
four activities in 1998 to an average of 29 activities in 2000.
Additionally, every public college, university and higher education
center is outsourcing at least one business affairs or auxiliary
enterprise activity. Among the 32 institutions, the University of
Central Oklahoma, Langston University, Oklahoma City Community
College and Rogers State University reportedly outsource the largest
number of activities.
Outsourced activities include contracting with private vendors
for provision of services or the management of in-house staff and
resources to provide needed services, selling franchises, using
vouchers, selling assets, public-private partnering, allowing
private enterprises to fill certain voids, and creating in-house
businesses that provide the services to institutional units on a
full-cost fee basis. The most commonly outsourced activities in
colleges and universities are food services, laundry, construction
projects, vending, janitorial services, elevator and vehicle
maintenance, bookstores, and office equipment repair and
"The State Regents as well as each public college and university
have tried to wisely manage public funds by finding ways to lower
costs without sacrificing quality," said State Regents Chairman
Leonard J. Eaton Jr. "It is evident from the results of this survey,
that our colleges and universities have made significant progress in
this area. Although outsourcing services is not always the most
effective option, the study indicates that each campus has made an
attempt to thoroughly examine various outsourcing opportunities
before choosing to privatize certain activities."
OSU teams with Nomadics
Oklahoma State University researchers are teaming with a
Stillwater company to develop a monitor that will detect biological
warfare agents in water.
OSU researchers will receive a three-year, $300,000 grant to work
with Nomadics Inc. The goal is a technology that will enable
Nomadics to manufacture monitors that could be used in municipal
water systems, storage tanks or field water supplies used in
disaster areas or by the military.
"We are trying to use our knowledge of these agents along with
the knowledge of Nomadics and others might have in sensing to go
ahead and produce a sensor capable of sensing these sorts of
agents," said Ken Clinkenbeard, head of veterinary medicine
pathobiology at OSU.
The research is funded by the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement
of Science and Technology.
Clinkenbeard said preliminary work has begun on the project,
which will run through 2004. He said OSU is just one institution
conducting this kind of research.
"This is a very active area right now because of the perceived
threat," he said. "There are a lot of different places working on
strategies to detect biological warfare agents. It's a big order."
ChurchLink.com, a subsidiary of Oklahoma City-based Lone Wolf
Energy, has announced the rollout of its proprietary online church
ChurchLink.com is a Web-based pictorial directory service for
churches that also offers online prayer ministry, electronic
newsletter publication, business directory, Web site hosting and
other features. Monthly subscription fees range from $99 to $349
depending on church size, said Bobby Boyles, president of
"Initial demand for the product has been incredible," Boyles
said. "We have had churches lining up for this product since last
summer when word of its development first began to surface. With
nearly 500,000 churches nationwide and more than 250,000 of them
larger than 100 members, the market for this product is enormous."
The goal of ChurchLink.com is to first target individual churches
and large denominations.
"In my 30 years of involvement in the local church ministry, I
have not seen a program which meets the needs of the church in as
many ways as ChurchLink.com," he said. "This product brings the
modern day church into the 21st century with technology still in the
future of even much of the business world."
Hooray for Hollywood
A state senator thinks he knows how to lure Hollywood film crews
to Oklahoma -- with money.
A bill co-authored by Sen. Keith Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, would
provide a 15 percent cash-back incentive on money spent in Oklahoma
for movie or television production.
That figure would triple the highest incentive of any other
state, said Leftwich, who says he got the idea for Senate Bill 674
while vacationing in Canada. He ran into two film crews during his
"As Canadian provinces are currently capitalizing on their vast
incentives, we want Oklahoma to be the first state to offer an
incentive plan that will get Hollywood's attention," he said.
"If they can be all over Canada, they can be all over Oklahoma,
spending money and hiring people," Leftwich said.
The, bill, called the "Compete With Canada Film Act," would
permit a rebate of 15 percent of expenditures directly attributable
to the production of a film in Oklahoma, such as local hires, props
The bill, which has the support of the State Chamber of Commerce,
says total rebates could not exceed $2 million in a single year.
Oklahoma native Gray Frederickson, Oscar-winning producer of the
Godfather films, said economics is the main consideration when a
film production company shops for locations.
"Once this measure is in place, Oklahoma will jump to the front
of the line for film projects, from both studios and independent
producers," he said.
The bill's House sponsor is Rep. Susan Winchester, R-Chickasha.
Rene Ortiz, a former secretary general of the Organization of
Petroleum Exporting Countries and former minister of energy and
mines of Ecuador, will be discussing "Latin America Energy Policies
for the New Millennium" at 10 a.m. Friday in the University of
Oklahoma Student Union. The public is welcome to attend.
Ortiz has more than 25 years' experience in the oil and energy
industry and brings a global perspective on rapidly changing energy
issues regarding Latin American, the Middle East and the far East.
The lecture is sponsored by OU's Sarkeys Energy Center and the
College of Engineering.
For more information, call Sarkeys Energy Center at 325-3821.
Filing a late campaign report last summer has resulted in a $325
fine for a former Republican candidate for Oklahoma's 2nd
Steve Money's campaign paid the civil penalty levied by the
Federal Election Commission.
Money lost his bid for the GOP nomination in the 2nd District to
Andy Ewing, who went on to lose the election to Democrat Brad
The 2000 election cycle marked the first campaign season in which
the FEC cracked down on congressional candidates who failed to file
timely campaign reports or failed to file them at all.
The FEC also fined several incumbent members of Congress for
filing late reports.
Inhofe named chairman
Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., has been officially named chairman
of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on
Transportation & Infrastructure, which is responsible for overseeing
federal highway programs, civil works projects and water resources
"Investments in our roads, bridges and public infrastructure are
vital to our future economic well-being," Inhofe said on Monday.
"This committee plays a key role in keeping our country's commitment
to these investments.
Inhofe said he plans to have the committee conduct a series of
oversight hearings on the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st
Century, which authorized federal surface transportation programs
for the six-year period of 1998 to 2003. The hearings will examine
how the programs have worked and what changes might need to be made
in the upcoming reauthorization.
Inhofe also intends to explore the concept of allowing states to
keep a significant portion of their federal gasoline taxes without
sending the money to Washington. Currently, gasoline tax revenue
goes into the federal highway trust fund and all states are
guaranteed to receive back at least 90 percent of what they
contribute. Without this round trip to Washington, it has been
suggested that states would be able to make more efficient use of
The Transportation Subcommittee is also responsible for
overseeing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' civil works programs
and the Appalachian Regional Commission. In addition, it addresses
the water supply and management issues of the Water Resources
Development Act and the federal government's public buildings and
economic development grant programs. Inhofe said he decided to make
the change in subcommittee chairmanships because of his strong
interest in highway and infrastructure issues and their importance
to both the state of Oklahoma and to the nation.