FAQs & Comments

BACS

  1. Why does ITS oversee the building access control system (BACS)? Why doesn’t Facilities include it as one of its services? BACS is an enterprise service offering designed to eventually be implemented across our entire campus. Through BACS services, Information Technology Services (ITS) and The University of Texas at Austin Police Department (UTPD) are able to electronically control access to buildings and facilities. Historically, BACS relied on low-voltage communications cabling, electronics, micro-controllers, and computers, therefore it was initially placed within the university’s telecommunications area. Once telecommunciations was merged into ITS, the BACS service became overseen by ITS, a trajectory similar to what has occurred at peer universities where BACS systems are managed by units within central IT, facilities, or police departments, for example.

ITS is committed to ensuring the BACS service is executed accurately and managed successfully. Note that ITS does work in partnership with units such as facilities, but BACS has remained in ITS due to its technical reliance on ITS services and expertise.

 

Budget

  1. For transparency’s sake, what is the history of the ITS budget deficit and why should the university be trusted when there does not seem to be accountability for the loss? Addressing the history of the ITS budget deficit is not a CITEC charge. The commission’s role is to get through its charges as set forth by the CFO and identify ways to help solve the issues, such as ascertaining methods for the program’s solvency.

 

  1. How long before we are “in the black”? Will killing off other services or asking for more money make a noticeable difference in the $20 million hole? What are your steps to ensure we are not in this situation again regarding budget? The first step to getting “in the black” is for CITEC to get through its charge. A collaborative assessment by CITEC, ITS staff and campus stakeholders will help determine which services should be considered “common good” (central funding), which services should be offered at cost, and which services should not be provided by ITS. As an advisory committee, CITEC will provide recommendations for what will be covered in central funding or whether it will be a fee-for-service. Note: Final decisions and the date at which those decisions will be implemented will be made by the university’s executive leadership.

In its full review, the commission will:

  • Evaluate the array of 140+ IT services
  • Decide how to pay for those IT services we need (e.g., general revenue, service center rates, common good)
  • Recommend system of governance for making future decisions, forecasting needs

We believe the commission’s completed charge and service recommendations will put us on a sustainable funding path.

 

Budget / Governance

  1. How will you establish governance once CITEC’s work is done? CITEC will be making initial recommendations to strengthen the effectiveness of existing governance for central IT. Upon receipt of CITEC recommendations, the CFO, President and Provost will then meet and move toward final decisions and next steps.

 

  1. Per recommendations to strengthen existing governance, are there ways in which this can become a more cohesive central IT overall? Our hope is that this can be accomplished as CITEC completes its charge. Evaluating the ITS service array and determining what should be maintained and funded centrally, and what services should be centrally offered but funded fee-for-service, better defines what central IT should be responsible for providing to the campus community.

A strengthened governance structure will be able to regularly evaluate the services provide by ITS and judge what service should continue as central IT offerings and whether adding new services would be in the best interest of the greater community.

 

  1. Do any of your tasks include looking at alternatives for the services that are being retired? CITEC’s process solely includes reviewing multiple ITS service offerings to identify immediate opportunities for savings and determine full-cost recovery versus central funding on the rates. Recommendations are made when service offerings have been fully vetted, but the final decision rests upon an extensive review by university’s executive leadership. The commission is not currently considering potential alternatives to any services that will no longer be provided by central funds.

 

CIO Search

  1. What is the status of the CIO search? This fall, the university will conduct a national search for a new chief information officer. The CFO will provide an update when finalists are determined.

 

CITEC

  1. How much information does CITEC have (as input or background) before they are required to "take a stand" on a recommendation? Throughout the process, the commission is working its way through extensive, detailed background and rates for each service offering. This information comes from a variety of sources, including service owners, accounting, peer data and stakeholder feedback.

 

Fast-Track

  1. What are “fast-track” recommendations? “Fast-track” identifies those offerings that require funding decisions to be in place by the upcoming budget cycle.

 

Service Management

  1. How much money will discontinuing ServiceNow save us? ServiceNow is not being discontinued. It was recommended that ServiceNow become fee for service. CITEC recommends stopping rollouts of ServiceNow to new units and no custom features be developed moving forward. Units that are currently using ServiceNow may continue using it on an “as-is” basis and would need to pay the new fee for service. It is possible that Service Management tool(s) would be considered after the WorkDay implementation. (Please note all CITEC recommendations will be forwarded to the university’s leadership for final decisions.)

 

UT Web

  1. Who are the stakeholders, specifically for UT Web? Stakeholders for fast- track items were informed during the town hall and included groups such as the Council of University Businesss Officers (CUBO), the IT community, student government, Tech Deans, and the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, to name a few.

 

A Few Notable Comments

 “…I think we are acting like we are more afraid of change than looking for ways to do things smarter and better…”

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“…Putting time and energy into your people is the best way to achieve your goals and keep the talent you have. The budget issues this campus is facing are going to be difficult to solve, but if you stop investing in your developers, you are only doing the university as a whole a disservice…”

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“…The story of the $20 million+ deficit has been in papers and has created a bad name for IT at UT. The public doesn't know the different between ITS and the rest of us. We deserve that information and so does the rest of Texas…”

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“…I recommend that you please ask someone for the history of Web Central and the migration to UT Web. The thought of yet another move is completely daunting. Again, I encourage you to make the recommendation that more time is needed for the program and CSU level to adjust to whatever changes are needed…”

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“…Most of the people here don’t need to be OK with what decisions you make. We need leadership in IT and then we can work toward that vision. It’s going to affect me and I need to know that, but I want to make sure it makes us better. And we need to communicate that effectively and transparently...”

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“…Software licensing transformation needed…”

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“…As evidenced by where we are, far too many decisions have been made without considering overall costs, and without a comprehensive strategy that considered costs and revenues…”

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“…It appears that the CITEC team has been charged to make business decisions without a governing strategy. Without a technical strategy, making decisions solely on dollars will result in decisions that are not practical or enlightened and could encourage poor behavior ending up costing the university more money…” 

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“… Desktop Support for Faculty & Staff: The current setup invites too much competition, infighting, and politicking between support groups. We need higher-level support for standardization and regulation to lay the groundwork for support. We need more federated, local support for each unit. … By giving campus set standards, in addition to a nuanced hand in day-to-day activities, you address the staffing and service-level concerns…”

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“… I am particularly concerned with the potential loss of accumulated expertise with regard to training. If we cannot train our developer staff on new tools, then how do we develop/sustain/grow/evolve a strong vibrant community of developers without training?”

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“…In regards to sunsetting tools, it’s OK to say: You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here…”