Policy Project

Case Study

Background

Institutional policies and procedures are the day-to-day “operating instructions” for faculty, staff, and students. Organizations are re-discovering that organizational policies – clearly articulated, regularly reviewed, and consistently communicated – are central to governance, risk, and compliance efforts. While pockets of the University of California community have over the decades embraced this philosophy, until recently there has been no concerted effort to streamline and reinvigorate policy-making processes and policy management.

The development, review, and management process for UC’s administrative policies and procedures must be revitalized. There must be a clear distinction between high-level, long-term statements of institutional goals and aspirations (policies) versus procedural operating instructions. Both must be more clearly articulated, regularly reviewed, and consistently communicated. Better organized and more user-friendly policies reduce time spent researching questions and finding answers, and they discourage workarounds. Well-written policies and procedures reduce risk, improve compliance, and increase reputational capital.

Goal

The primary goal of the Policy Project is to produce plain language policies that may be easily understood and navigated. Ultimately, each policy will be integrated within one University framework.

Administrative policies will conform to a standard template, and will use a common glossary of terms. Each policy will have an assigned owner responsible for aligning the policy with other administrative policies as well as updating the policy in response to new regulatory requirements, risk assessments, or strategic positioning decisions. This assigned owner will review policies for changes annually, and all policies will be formally reviewed at least every three years.

Finally, all administrative policies and supporting procedures, guidelines, forms, and requirements will be accessible from a single administrative policy website, and will be organized in a logical, task-based hierarchy. Each of these goals aligns with best practices across the higher education community

Successes

In the first year, the Universitywide Policy Office within the Office of Ethics, Compliance and Audit Services (ECAS) developed an inventory of all existing University of California administrative policies and Presidential Delegations of Authority as the basis for a thorough administrative policy review.  During Q4, the President established a Standing Policy Steering Committee to guide the policy review process; the Steering Committee is supported by a Policy Advisory Committee representing a range of UC subject matter expertise.

Challenges

UC must take advantage of existing subject matter expertise in a time of increased staff attrition.    As other universities have done, UC must accelerate adoption of information technologies to support publishing, locating and retrieving vital information.  Increased attention to policy and procedure management will reduce legal risk from contradictory, outdated, or fragmented policies.  In the near term, one of the greatest challenges is the sheer number of policies subject to review – initial estimates are above 600 records.

Initial Investment

The  Office of Ethics, Compliance and Audit Services has contributed one FTE to this project, and other Divisions within UCOP are also contributing staff time.  As the project goes forward, campuses will be asked to contribute resources in the form of representation on the Policy Advisory Committee.  During the next calendar year, we anticipate additional costs related to supporting information technology.  Realizing that we have to do more with less during this period, we also are exploring campus-to-campus-to-UCOP collaborative technologies that may assist policy management for the System as a whole.

Fiscal results, current and anticipated

This project will not have an immediate nor a direct impact to “the bottom line,” but is expected to yield significant dividends in fewer FTE hours spent researching questions and finding answers.  A more robust policy management process and website presence will also demonstrate University operational transparency and accountability.

Current action and next steps

This UCOP divisions are working from a comprehensive inventory of more than 600 records to review, update, consolidate, reformat or rescind identified policies, procedures and related instructions.  The Policy Project will develop a website presence to keep members of the community informed about progress on this initiative.

Concluding statement

Once infrastructure is in place, the Policy Office will be able to measure “owner” accountability, better respond to user and stakeholder feedback, and conserve human resources by providing a “one-stop” source for policy questions. Another expected benefit is the reduction in time-to-deployment of regulatory-based policies by quickly assigning policy development tasks to the appropriate officer and by establishing an accelerated review process for such issues.  The Policy Project will create highly visible and sustainable improvements in the administrative policy-making process.