"There is desirable treasure,
And oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man squanders it."
But at this point, who's counting?!? From this morning's Statesman:
The University of Texas ran up a $15 million deficit in its information technology unit by the end of August, and the red ink could grow to $25 million in the current budget year, the American-Statesman has learned.But clearly the solution is to attempt to impeach the only regent who's ever asked difficult questions about all the money being spent; read the whole thing here.
Separately, a $100 million project to shift the university’s payroll, human resources and finances from a mainframe computer system to cloud-based operations is running behind schedule and over budget.
An internal audit report obtained by the Statesman through an open-records request said “financial mistakes and miscommunication by various parties,” coupled with budgets “well below what’s needed,” caused the Information Technology Services department to spend more than it had been allocated. Officials said the deficit would continue to grow until budget revisions and other reforms are fully in place.
UT has decided to abandon its plan to activate all elements of the cloud-based system in July and instead phase the system in starting sometime later. The university has spent $60 million on the project thus far, and although the delay is intended to assure a smoother rollout it will also raise the cost to an as-yet-undetermined sum above $100 million.
Darrell Bazzell, UT’s senior vice president and chief financial officer, is in charge of addressing these challenges, which he learned of after joining the university’s executive ranks in April. At the same time, he is presiding over a major reorganization that has more than tripled the number of people under his purview to 2,430, including employees in police, construction management and other operational units as well as the staff administering the university’s $2.9 billion budget.
The roots of the information technology deficit apparently date back a few years, when a newly created unit known as the Central Business Office took over certain financial responsibilities in an ill-fated effort to consolidate services and save money. The business office made budget decisions without consulting IT leaders, including Brad Englert, UT’s chief information officer and the chief operating officer of Information Technology Services, according to the internal review by Michael Vandervort, UT’s chief audit executive.
Various people oversaw the Central Business Office after it was established in 2010, Bazzell said. Regular reports of IT spending were created by the office but included funds that should not have been available, he said.
“As a result, the reports masked the fact that ITS was overspending their budget, and so managers and administrators were under the impression that they were within budget, when in fact they were overspending and committing to contracts in the future that were unfunded,” Bazzell said. “So, without a dedicated person watching the ITS books who was familiar with the norms for what the department should be spending, conditions were created that made such an oversight possible.”
Meanwhile, the $34 million allocated to the ITS unit for the current budget year is not enough to keep it from sinking deeper into the red because spending will exceed that sum despite a freeze on non-essential hiring, maintenance and equipment purchases.
The deficit “could grow to as much as $25 million in this fiscal year as we continue to address these issues,” Bazzell said. “The university has sufficient cash flow, given the size of its budget, to cover closely monitored IT spending while we develop a plan to bring the budget back into balance and retire the departmental debt,” Bazzell said.
[Author's Note: Emphasis added.]
Bottom Line: Even by UT standards, this is real money.