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. …