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Update on Facilities Management Study

In a meeting of the Tennessee Senate’s State and Local Government Committee Tuesday, a projected savings estimate of almost $36 million to operate state buildings through the use of outsourcing facilities management was presented by the state’s Office of Customer-Focused Government.
In my last update to you on this subject, I noted that in a meeting the week prior, I and other officials with public higher education and state government met for in-depth discussions about next steps in this process.
I emphasized then what remains true now: We retain the option to opt-out even after all state costs are validated, all proposals received, and the final comparison of validated state costs compared to proposed service provider costs is complete.
The final decision to opt-in or -out of providing contract-based facilities management services belongs to the campuses, with leadership of those campuses being responsible for justifying their decision to the UT System Administration and the Board of Trustees.
This is also noted in the Office of Customer-Focused Government’s press release issued Tuesday, that you can read here.
This means that our campuses do not have to make any final decisions until after our internal costs have been verified by a third-party auditor and all estimates received through the RFP process from selected qualified vendors have been analyzed.

The next step in this process, the validation of the potential cost savings, will be done by a qualified, independent third party. The state’s timeline for this step indicates it will continue through July. A request for qualifications issued in March to understand qualifications of potential service providers is to be open through July. A request for proposals from prospective vendors is to be issued in late fall 2016. You can review the preliminary timeline as part of the Tuesday presentation here.
I have reiterated the University’s commitment to being engaged throughout the duration of this process, and we will be. This will ensure that prospective service providers have the experience and qualifications necessary to deliver quality services, should any of our campuses, ultimately, choose to opt-in to the state’s facility services contract, expected to be possible in spring 2017.
As I have throughout this process, I maintain my support of our facilities services employees and the fine job they do. In the press release referenced above, you also will see language noting that any contract with a service provider will include language prohibiting  any reduction in force at any time during the contract period and that no current, productive employee will lose his or her job just because of a contract.
Further, let me assure you that no one will be forced to implement a plan that is not in the overall best interest of our University, its personnel or its students.

I reiterate my support of this process and reaffirm the University’s good faith commitment to a thorough review of the involved information and to our engagement in this initiative until we have been presented the necessary, valid information for making an informed decision whether to opt in or out.

I appreciate all that you—our faculty and staff who serve this University day in and day out—do to contribute to fulfilling our important mission.
All the best,

The University of Tennessee | Office of the President
831 Andy Holt Tower | Knoxville, TN 37996
Phone: 865.974.2241 | Fax: 865.974.3753
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The mission of the University of Tennessee System Administration is to advance the educational, discovery, creative and outreach programs of the campuses and institutes through leadership that removes obstacles, understands needs, provides advocacy, secures resources, promotes accountability, fosters diversity, promotes innovation, coordinates campus efforts and delivers efficient and effective central services.