The Mill

If you are not familiar with the STAR program, learn more by seeing the following: overview, policy and FAQs.

Many colleagues share the point you make and the frustration you voice.  Establishing a much-needed and well-deserved incentive program is welcome news.  Combining institutional goals with a school goal is also laudable.  We certainly recognize that everyone working together is what ensures success for OE.  To your well-made point, there are innate challenges not only with the goals themselves, but in how they are evaluated.

For clarity, the STAR program and its institutional goals were designed and vetted by the HR executive leadership, the senior leadership compensation group and then approved by the Deans.  If the STAR program continues next year, they will have the advantage of lessons learned this year including considerable and broad-based feedback.

The HR executive leadership will determine whether or not there is improved client satisfaction (a key criteria for one of the institutional goals) by the following:

The same individuals that responded to the earlier satisfaction surveys will be asked to participate in this follow-up.
Pre-award results will be determined by a satisfaction survey conducted this spring and available only to faculty.  No staff will participate.
HR is going to repeat their customer service survey and both faculty and staff will be responding.  To meet the institutional goal, HR must demonstrate a statistically significant improvement in customer service.

Understanding that there are ongoing frustrations about the institutional goals and the level of payout, we eagerly anticipate the additional information HR is planning to disseminate about the STAR program in March.  We will make it available as soon as it is released.

We welcome your comments.

The topic of potential finance service centers was also raised in the Finance3 Town Hall, February 5 during the Q&A.  There is no Finance4. The focus is entirely on the three initiatives: COA, Hyperion and Reporting.  You can be assured that no group or individual is secretly planning to form financial service centers with the intent to move the finance positions into them.   It would not be wise to distract the effort and bandwidth required to successfully launch the Finance3 efforts.
That said, in the future, one might reasonably expect with the more efficient financial systems and processes in place, that there will be some changes in business needs and processes across the campus. There might be some inherent efficiency to be found in sharing of financial services across organizations. But that is not part of the current process, no committees are working on it and it is not under consideration as an institutional objective.

We can state, unequivocally, that no senior executive received or will receive a bonus that is tied to the go-live date for the OE initiatives. The Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, Jeff Bluestone, the Senior Vice Chancellor Finance and Administration, John Plotts and the Dean of the School of Medicine, Sam Hawgood confirmed this.

To further clarify the decision process for the timing of the go-live dates - many committees and leadership groups were involved in the timing of all OE initiatives and the go-live dates were set through those mechanisms. The drivers for the actual go-live dates were the many individuals participating across all schools, internal and external deadlines and the coordination with systems' rollouts.

To put your comment in perspective. There were many months of planning for the transition to OE and many more months of implementation. The pressures to accelerate the rollouts of the OE initiatives came from everyone involved (staff, faculty and leadership) to guarantee that we retain our best people and limit the burden for those who lost personnel.  It was critical that people not feel they were in an endless limbo. The vocal outcry about wanting to get OE started was indeed palpable. (See FAQ on 9/2010 "It's stressful waiting on the inevitable changes OE will bring. Why is it taking so long?")


**Important Note:  It has come to our attention since this rumor was originally posted on June 4, that one senior manager could have received a limited incentive pay if the OE initiative had rolled out within the original timeline that was established by the process described above.  Since the go-live dates were delayed by several months, the incentive pay was not earned or paid.  To clarify, at no point was the date to go-live determined in order for the individual to receive any incentive pay.

Getting straight to the reality, IT is not going to fire any of its staff in order to transition to the new desktop support initiative.  If an individual wants to work in the new IT desktop organization (ITFS), they are encouraged to apply for one of the open positions. 

It is possible that during the roll-out there may be some staff whose jobs are eliminated.  Ultimately, the decision to keep or eliminate a position belongs to the department.  The cost of paying for services that now come from outside the department may compel some organizations to make the difficult decision to eliminate positions.

IT will follow the same precedent established with HR and Pre-award to staff their new service centers. Positions will be posted for internal candidates only. Any unfilled positions will then be opened up to contract and external candidates that apply.  Filling the new IT positions will be an open and clearly defined process.

See the IT Archive section for descriptions of the new IT desktop jobs and the hiring process.

How long you choose to keep a computer is up to you and your department.  UCSF doesn't make money on computer purchases.  Keep in mind, there are costs associated with supporting older computers that might affect your decision to keep or toss.

IT will continue to support computers that are less than five years old.  They will stop supporting computers that are older than five years once they have a hardware failure.  Bottom line: it just isn't cost-effective for IT to support older computers with hardware failures - they are too time-consuming.

'Every three years' has been mentioned in regards to warranty-related issues.  Most computers at UCSF are purchased with a vendor warranty (usually three years for Apple computers and four years for Dell computers).  The owner also has the option of purchasing an extended warranty.  If something breaks within the warranty period, the manufacturer will cover it.  But, after the warranty expires, the owner of the computer pays for the fix or new part.

Generally, we advise careful consideration when deciding to keep an older computer because it becomes very costly to maintain it and to find and install replacement parts.  But the final decision rests with the owner, not IT.

Stressful, frustrating and annoying would also be understandable reactions if you have to apply for a position doing essentially the same work you are currently doing. That said, how to select the candidates for the new positions was one of the most thoroughly vetted questions in rolling out all the OE initiatives.

When there are more people applying for a fewer number of positions, the selection  process has to provide every candidate with an equal opportunity. It has to be transparent and structured so that every applicant is treated fairly.  Otherwise, managers might simply pick and choose candidates they were most familiar with.

Sounds like it might be a good time to have a candid conversation with your supervisor or the manager of your group.  Remember that while you are certainly under no obligation to apply for the new desktop positions, you do potentially expand your options by throwing your hat in the ring.

We would caution you to hold off on any career changing decisions to leave UCSF until you are able to confirm the status of your current position and the related information about a layoff and severance package.  We wish you well as you sort through your career crossroads.

UCPath just launched their website so now we can all get the latest information. Much of the information is preliminary since the effort is in the design phase. UCSF is still part of the final wave going live in October 2014.


To your point about strategy and providing input, the UC Office of the President (UCOP) is leading all aspects of the design, testing and rollout of this new system. It is important to be realistic in anticipating UCSF’s ability to impact the final outcome because we are partnering with all the other UC campuses under the lead of UCOP.


That said UCSF is investing a significant amount of effort. UCSF campus and medical center leadership, management and subject experts from Payroll, HR, Academic Affairs and Finance are participating, along with their peers system-wide. (A reminder that UCPath focuses on payroll, benefits and leave administration.)


UCOP is planning to conduct job fairs at all 10 campuses as part of its plan to staff the UCPath shared services center in Riverside.  We will post the details as soon as they become available.


Might an individual receive a salary increase moving into a new OE team? Absolutely.  Might an individual maintain their current salary moving into a new OE team? Absolutely. Might they be asked to take a pay cut? Not likely. Hiring UCSF staff into the new OE positions provides an opportunity to address some long-standing salary inequities.

Fortunately, work is underway to address equitable pay for staff doing similar work.  It is important to correct the circumstances that some staff now experience. They are paid considerably less than a colleague in another department doing the same work. (Addressing the wide variance in pay is a big benefit of creating job families.)  

Thus, new OE staff whose salaries fall below or are on the very low end of a pay range may indeed see more of an increase than someone else.  Other individuals may not receive an increase as their current salary is appropriate for their new position.  Individuals who have chosen to take a position that offers a lower salary than their current salary will, most likely, work with HR to find an equitable solution.

Is it really the same work?  In some cases there are similarities to the work done in a department to the work done in the new OE organization. In other cases, there are marked differences in responsibilities.  If those differences reflect incremental responsibilities a slightly higher salary is warranted.

As one example, in pre-award there is a marked difference in the work.  In the new positions, RSCs must qualify to take a rigorous exam as well as pass a field test before they obtain institutional signature authority, a significant UCSF responsibility.

It is true that new job families have been implemented for the OE teams that were recently formed.  (An IT job family is in the works).  And it is also true that through the recruitment process for these newly created positions, some salary inequities were identified and subsequently fixed.  The positive outcome for the new job families is a transparent standard of equal pay for equal work, a way to gain growth in specialized knowledge and clear advancement opportunities.

So, where does that leave the post-award and finance people that you mention?  According to HR leadership, the plan is to implement a comprehensive job family program for all non-represented titles throughout UCSF by FY2015.  The hope is to complete it sooner and we will share the timeline details with you as soon as they are available.

That does not mean you have to wait until 2015 to be assured that your salary is equitable.  If you feel as though there is a disparity between your salary and the salaries of employees in similar positions, you can talk to your supervisor or the HR Generalist who supports your department.  They can begin the process of a pay equity review.

A related topic on the Rumor Mill was posted on 2/2/12: "People are getting paid more in OE to do the same work they did in their departments."

It might help to reconcile what seem to be wildly different reactions to the new Research Management Services, RMS, model by putting the data results in perspective. The published data were the results from the faculty who participated in and responded to Phase IA. Granted, it is a small subset of the larger population of faculty but none-the-less valid experiences by those faculty for that specified period of time.

Some individuals are inclined to diminish such good returns (83.3% highly satisfied) by saying all 12 departments in Phase IA volunteered because they needed help so of course they will be satisfied. Jumping to that conclusion would do a great injustice to those departments that volunteered for Phase IA as they represented the full diversity of departmental structures that currently exist within UCSF. This was a topic of an earlier Rumor Mill. (Phase I is just a set-up so that OE will look good. Of course the data is going to show increases in faculty satisfaction because the departments that 'volunteered' are all part of the 'have not' group.)

To your point about dissatisfied faculty – no one is disputing or minimizing the number of faculty who – at the current time – are struggling with the service they are receiving. There is intense effort on everyone’s part to work through the difficulties, to continue to make improvements and to ensure that RSCs are given fair time to adjust to their new jobs.

It would not be accurate to assume that dissatisfied voices speak for all faculty. In fact, the RMS has also received many very enthusiastic and positive testimonials from faculty.

Data for Phase IB participants is now being requested and faculty should return their surveys to ensure another valid data set. We are confident that the new wave of data results will also accurately reflect the climate for this specified time period for this group of participants. And yes, the RMS will share those results as well as all other data that they track.

There are rumors and there are facts and the grey area between the two is often at the heart of the issues that come to the OE website.  To some the name ‘Rumor Mill’ undercuts the seriousness of the feedback while to most at UCSF the Rumor Mill signifies a place to go to get a straightforward, objective response to unconfirmed information or to difficult questions and concerns. It is a place where any issue or concern is fair game and our responses are direct and free of jargon.  (Admittedly, we don’t always hit the mark but we listen carefully to you when we don’t.)  We are tweaking the name slightly to call it ‘The Mill’  to reflect the diversity of the issues that it deals with so honestly.

The content and approach will not change because the Rumor Mill, aka The Mill, has earned its reputation for honesty and transparency and a place to be heard. 

Any comments about the Rumor Mill aka The Mill,  the OE website, issues, concerns or rumors are encouraged and welcome.  Please let us know by what you think.

You’re right, for many it is difficult.  An effective collaboration between pre- and post-award is critical.  When there are disconnects it affects everyone - the RSCs, the faculty and the post-award analysts. 

To be realistic, it won’t be solved overnight.  The RSCs need time to get up to speed on their jobs, to get to know their new faculty and their science as well as how their new departments work.  It is also important that the roles and responsibilities are as clearly defined as possible so that everyone is working toward the same objective.

As a result of feedback, there are significant steps being taken to build better collaboration.

  • Training: A module has been added in the immersion and ongoing RSC training programs that focuses on the post-award collaboration.  The presenters are post-award subject matter experts.
  • Think Tank: An ongoing work group will focus solely on the issues/resolution for the pre-and post-award issues that are facing the teams and departments. The Think Tank is made up of post-award subject matter experts and several pre-award team managers and an RSC.
  • The Office of Sponsored Research Advisory Board has this on their agenda and will be monitoring it closely.
  • The RMS leadership is working on a case-by-case basis to improve collaboration between the teams and the affected departments.

We are hopeful that the work of the Think Tank, the more rigorous training and the continued work of the RSCs and the dedicated department colleagues will all lead to a more successful outcome.

It is one thing to be forewarned that OE is going to be a difficult transition.  It is another thing entirely to be the one actually trying to work through these changes.

Quite honestly, it takes time to get everyone on the same page and working together but they are listening and they do care. It bodes well for UCSF that individuals participating in these first rollouts have been particularly explicit and well spoken in identifying what is and isn’t working for their respective departments. Because of this strong ‘get it right’ advocacy and the nature of new organizations, improvements and changes are inevitable.  

We should remember that the members of the OE teams are in a new job in a new organization under new leadership and in some cases, with new systems that aren’t fully developed.  This isn’t an excuse but a reality check.

As Dean Hawgood reminded the Managers in the School of Medicine, the OE effort requires extraordinary patience. Hang-in there and keep the feedback coming.

Protecting the integrity of your research and clinical data is critical so it is understandable that one might feel hesitant to commit to the consolidation of the data centers. Because of clearly articulated feedback from the faculty, there have been changes to the original plans for implementing both the Data Center consolidation and the Desktop Support services.

It is important to note that the data center implementation period has now been extended to 4.5 years to September 2016.  This revised implementation period provides more time to reassure faculty by demonstrating the reliability, security and effectiveness of the new data centers and to retire aging servers.

If the new data center services can’t meet the requirements for your research by September 2016, you will have an option to request an exemption. Only the Deans can exempt your participation and details for that exemption process are pending.

Mandatory participation will be required only if and when established service levels are achieved and proven through strong metrics.

The IT leadership did pay close attention to the feedback and as a result, the implementation period for the Desktop Support service was extended to 2.5 years (by December 2014).  Overall, this means that academic departments have more time to adjust to the upcoming changes and to be able to provide input so that they do receive high levels of service.

The goal of the IT Leadership is to have full campus participation in this program at the end of December 2014.  Requiring excellent service levels at a reasonable cost will make this a viable goal.  The IT Advisory Group, comprised of faculty and staff representatives from all schools will be formed soon. One of the responsibilities of this group will be to monitor adherence to the service levels and metrics.

You are right that Service Level Agreements (SLA) are supposed to set standards and define expectations for the delivery of a service.  

The reality is that the OE SLA’s were developed before anyone had real-time experience with the day-to-day challenges within an OE service center.  Initially they reflected a projection of what was hoped to be doable.  With ongoing feedback, reality checks and hands-on experience, the SLAs are being modified so that they become valued documents that set reliable expectations and standards. 

The Service Centers are still new.  They need your input and collaboration.

Finding enough space to house the newly forming OE teams was a tough challenge. It succeeded because of the broad-base efforts by many in the UCSF community (see listing below).

To your comment, it wasn’t that small departments weren’t helping out or ‘sharing the sacrifice’. By the very nature of their size, they were not able to give up more than a cubicle here and there.  OE needed contiguous space so newly formed teams could be seated together. 

Here is a summary of those who contributed the space for the Human Resources and Pre-award teams.

  • Mission Bay
    • Pre-award: EVCP contributed space to house 1 team
  • Minnesota Street
    • Pre-award: FAS and SOM contributed space for 1 team
  • Parnassus
    • Pre-award: UC Hall, release space from Ortho Surgery on the 4th floor for 2 teams
    • Pre-award: Dermatology space on the 3rd floor for 1 team
  • Laurel Heights
    • Pre-award: SOM contributed space for one team, EVCP for a second, and DOM for a third team that serves DOM
    • Human Resources: Team B is in DOM space and primarily supports the DOM
    • Other teams are in the existing HR space that has been consolidated
  • SFGH
    • Pre-award: Thanks to critical assistance by SOM, the City/County contributed space for 1 team
  • Mt. Zion
    • Pre-award: Surgery moved out of MedCenter space and the MedCenter kindly released that space to house 1 team
  • MCB
    • Human Resources: 2 teams are in existing FAS space. (There was the domino reaction; SOP gave up space to the AVC CECO Clinical Compliance, so that HR could move into the Clinical Compliance space at Mission Center.)

It may appear that a staff member has started receiving a new OE salary while still sitting and working in their department. The reality is that these individuals are also participating in intense OE training for their new positions.

Both pre-award and HR staff hired into their respective new OE organizations undergo part-time training before they begin their new positions full time. During the training, their salary is allocated proportionately and paid by OE and the department.

Specifically, pre-award staff are paid 50% of their new RMS/OE salary while they participate in half-time training and 50% of their department salary is paid by their current department. Staff hired into the new HR organization, UCSF Human Resources, are also paid commensurate with effort towards go-live preparation and implementation.

Might an individual receive a salary increase moving into a new OE team? Absolutely.  Might an individual maintain their current salary moving into a new OE team? Absolutely. Might they be asked to take a pay cut? Not likely. Hiring UCSF staff into the new OE positions provides an opportunity to address some long-standing salary inequities.

Fortunately, work is underway to address equitable pay for staff doing similar work.  It is important to correct the circumstances that some staff now experience. They are paid considerably less than a colleague in another department doing the same work. (Addressing the wide variance in pay is a big benefit of creating job families.)  

Thus, new OE staff whose salaries fall below or are on the very low end of a pay range may indeed see more of an increase than someone else.  Other individuals may not receive an increase as their current salary is appropriate for their new position.  Individuals who have chosen to take a position that offers a lower salary than their current salary will, most likely, work with HR to find an equitable solution.

Is it really the same work?  In some cases there are similarities to the work done in a department to the work done in the new OE organization. In other cases, there are marked differences in responsibilities.  If those differences reflect incremental responsibilities a slightly higher salary is warranted.

As one example, in pre-award there is a marked difference in the work.  In the new positions, RSCs must qualify to take a rigorous exam as well as pass a field test before they obtain institutional signature authority, a significant UCSF responsibility.

First of all, we want to congratulate you and we wish you the very best in your new position.  As to the concerns you have for your friend and colleague...not getting selected is awful news – period.  Finding out your career path isn’t going to be what you had wanted is really tough. It is especially unsettling for your colleague when it was not her decision but someone else’s. 

Fortunately, the ‘what’s next for me’ is hers to manage and one that will benefit from all her energy and focus. UCSF works hard at supporting its staff and this difficult time is no exception.

There are some things she can do to balance the hurt and anger with a sense of possibilities.  Some of these suggestions may not be relevant to her. If not, they may help others who are asking the same question.  We offer them as a guide.

For your friend and colleague:

  • Talk to your manager – Find out what is going to happen to your job and when – don’t jump to a gloomy conclusion unless you know for sure. Find out what possibilities there may be within your department or other departments.  See the UCSF career site.
  • Utilize the resources at UCSF to help you get through such a miserable time.  If you want to talk to someone who is really good at helping sort through the anger and hurt, call FSAP and get an appointment. 
  • Reach out for support from your colleagues and peers at UCSF.  This is a great way to proactively find out about potential opportunities.
  • If you thought your interview went really well (and now you’re not so sure) talk to the hiring manager and ask for straightforward feedback
  • If your resume (and interviewing skills) needs some work, a new series of workshops is being planned for January. 
  • You can always go to the UCSF career planning siteor go directly to Don Diettinger with questions.
  • If your prospect of a continued career at UCSF is dim and you do receive a notice of layoff, you will be able to utilize the outplacement services. When you are feeling more optimistic, ask yourself ‘What is it I really want to do?’

We wish you great success in your new position!  Our hope is that your friend and colleague will turn this around and find a situation that suits her perfectly.

"OE was supposed to save us money and now we are hearing that it is actually going to cost our department more money.  What's up with that?"

As OE evolves, we are confident that most departments will find savings but we are also aware that OE costs for some departments might be more than they are currently paying.  Importantly, the overall costs for delivering Pre-award and AP/HR to the UCSF community are going to be reduced. IT has not yet released their funding model data.  

For Pre-award, the expected savings a year at end-state are approximately $4M. The current status-quo costs are $15M. It will cost approximately $11M a year for the new Research Management Services model when it is fully implemented.  AP/HR reported a range of $4.7-$7.8M projected annual savings over the FY 13-18.  There are so many moving parts that the numbers reflect a best estimate based on many assumptions that could change.  We will continue to provide updates.

Understandably, there is inconsistency in the methodology departments are using to determine how much more (or less) their OE costs will be.  As a result, there are some dramatic numbers being talked about.  The School of Medicine is working with their departments so that a more accurate projection of current and projected costs can occur.

Details of the funding models are available in the Archive.

Many jobs have not yet changed because their relationship with OE is still being defined.  Post-award and finance positions are in those categories.  While some positions may, in fact, remain unchanged others may not.  More specifically, as pre-award goes live, those pre/post-award combined positions will be affected.


Importantly, there are factors in addition to OE that affect how a department is structured and how work is assigned.  The significant fiscal challenges and the impact of new systems and processes that streamline work are just two critical factors that department leadership must consider. 

Each department responds to these various factors independently.  We suggest you speak directly with your department manager to see what the thinking might be about your own department and future needs

OE, without dispute, is a controversial effort.  These faculty responses reflect a frustration and concern that UCSF will be irrevocably changed, not for the better.  Also, that the heart of the institution and our ability to provide excellence in education, patient care and research will be compromised. 

Strengthening our mission drives how we respond to the challenges we face.  We need to save dollars because of permanent state reductions - so we change.  We need to streamline processes and workflow to get the work done - so we change.  We need to work within a broader community - so we change.

There are an extraordinary number of individuals working hard to make sure that the outcome of all the necessary changes does not diminish our vital missions but strengthens them.

At the end of the day, we trust the UCSF community will be objective and thoughtful as they fully evaluate the changes that OE brings.  Do we expect the rigor of debate to continue?  Absolutely.  Outspoken vetting of our differences is critical to our success.

The majority of AP/HR work will be conducted within the clusters but there will be some HR coordination that remains in the department.  The OE HR team and the department managers are now reviewing and finalizing the process maps.  Finalizing these process maps will confirm what work moves to the cluster and what work remains within a department.  Since applications are now being accepted for the AP/HR cluster positions, we suggest you speak directly with your department manager to see what the thinking might be about your own department and future needs.

The members of the Phase I Team (RSCs and Associate RSCs) have been selected and they are a group of individuals who have a range of valuable experience, including pre- and post-award, research administration supervision, C&G experience and experience providing direct support to researchers.  Collectively, the selected team has over 161 years of experience.

The final choice for the team was driven not only by years of relevant experience, education, analytical skills, but also the critical skill sets in the areas of leadership, communication, compliance, policy interpretation, systems knowldege and interpersonal skills.  Because this is a true team, assessing these as aggregate skills helped guide the critical decision process.  The 'hands on' work (pulling together the proposal as well as the thorough review/approval process) combines with leadership and communication to ensure a team functioning at maximum effectiveness from the very beginning.

We were fortunate to have interviews conducted by a group that included MSOs from our Phase 1 departments, C&G representatives and individuals with experience in leading pre-award organizations.  The factors identified above as well as reference checks helped formulate the final selections.

It is important to note this is only one of ten teams that will be hired in the coming months.  More details will be forthcoming but positions for the remaining teams will be posted in mid-August with the formal recruitment beginning in the fall.  Individuals may be selected but not slated to actually join the new RSC team until the subsequent group of departments is phased in.

OE Finance does seem to have gone under the radar these past months while pre-award and AP/HR dominated the ‘OE headlines’.

From the outset, it was clear that finance had the bigger challenge because our processes and institutional practices are intertwined with policy and more difficult to address.  

To compound the challenge, the available staffing support was limited and inconsistently available.  However, under the leadership of Anja Paardekooper and Mounira Kenaani with the support of Huron Consulting Group, there is renewed energy to reboot the groups' effort and amplify the vision.

What’s happening now?

There are two very lean groups at work.  One is a task force chaired by John Ellis working on the G/L Verification.  The second group, chaired by Eric Vermillion, is working on quick-wins or easily addressed process improvements.

On July 26, 2011 there was a State of OE Finance Visioning session with UCSF’s senior financial leadership, representation from department MSOs and the faculty advisors.

One of the key objectives was to prioritize the specific initiatives deemed as critical. Setting explicit fiscal objectives will form the cornerstone for the rebooted OE finance work.

Finance will host a Brown Bag in the fall to provide a more thorough update.

The eleven departments that have volunteered are remarkable on many fronts. They are willing to step up and work together to be part of the solution. They have dedicated, excellent and committed staff working hard to support their department and their faculty. Some of the departments are among the most productive in NIH-funded research per capita.  We know there are some departments participating who are looking forward to an improved level of service. Even the departments that are already strong are anticipating an improved level of service given the incorporation of signature authority moving closer to the faculty.

Phase I is all about testing our assumptions so that we learn more about what works and can imbed those successful practices in Phases II, III, IV. Phase I is a very credible assessment because we have met these and other important criteria.

Department composition: small, large, clinical, basic science, ORU

Resources available: considerable to limited and all levels in between

Funding sponsors: federal, non-profit, international, clinical, foundations, state

Faculty: senior to junior and all levels of experience in between

We know that everyone has an opinion - but we would hope that there will not be disparagement and discounting of the validity of Pre-Award Phase I before it even begins....particularly in the absence of accurate information.

No firm or even speculative decisions have been made as of this writing. That said, there are probably individuals the leadership is hoping will apply.  Anyone recruiting for a position starts thinking about the best possible candidates as early as possible. Usually one of the first questions a manager asks a colleague is “Do you know anyone good for XYZ position?”  Good choices are the result of a good amount of work by candidates and by the hiring manager. 

The AP/HR Cluster Director positions are extremely important positions and every effort has to be made to find and select the best candidates.   It is a thorough process that begins with an internal recruitment. It also includes; ‘asking around’ and suggesting that strong potential applicants take the leap; an interview process which includes representation from the client departments; reference checks and a review of the personnel file.  Interviewers are selected with an astute understanding of the needs of the position and the ability to pose questions to draw out the strengths and challenges a candidate would bring to a job. 

Knowing this, should you go ahead and apply? Absolutely.  The strength of this process is its ability to foster that unexpectedly great candidate.

David Odato, the Associate Vice Chancellor of UCSF Human Resources and Chief Administrative and Human Resources Officer for the UCSF Medical Center also responded directly to this rumor:

“A lot of work has gone into developing an objective process to hire the most qualified candidates for the AP/HR Cluster Director positions. We’ve established an interview panel consisting of campus stakeholders representing each cluster. The panel will interview candidates in early June and will recommend candidates for consideration to the AVC Human Resources, David Odato.  David will then interview the candidates and recommend finalists.  To ensure we have the greatest amount of department stakeholder input, managers have been invited to participate in final panel interviews in late June, after which hiring decision will be made. “

You are right that in some cases it might be ‘easier’ to leave the departments alone.  Doing ‘easy’ doesn’t ensure consistent access to excellent service for all faculty. It doesn’t fix the delta between the ‘haves and have nots’. Doing ‘easy’ isn’t going to fix or even take a step towards meeting the fiscal challenges this institution faces.

If an RSA stays in the department:

  • Signature authority represents the last stop within this institution and must be conducted by a credential independent individual.   This oversight function best resides outside of the department.  Even with training, an individual department RSA would probably not be granted signature authority.  
  • You would still need to route the proposal through C&G and C&G would need to be fully staffed – no savings in time or money with that plan. As a member of the OE team, your RSC can sign off, eliminating the extra C&G step.
  • You are limiting your RSAs opportunity for a defined career and professional recognition as an expert. The new job families are built around the pre-award teams’ defined roles & responsibilities.
  • By relying on one high performing individual you are at risk in times of unexpected absences or when the individual chooses another job. 
  • By relying on one individual who performs multiple responsibilities within your department, a deadline-driven activity in the presence of competing responsibilities may distract from his/her ability to support your grant preparation process.
  • You are limiting the RSA’s ability to participate within a team of colleagues, enjoy back-up during peak workloads and vacations and draw from an expanded knowledge pool.

Your current RSA can choose to apply for a position within a new team and may continue to support you. A fundamental purpose for creating the new OE pre-award teams is to maintain and even strengthen the personal relationships that faculty value so highly. Full disclosure: We cannot guarantee this will happen in all cases, but our goal is to provide that individualized and personalized support to each faculty member.

OE is moving ahead, you are correct in that statement.  The debate is around the volume of that ‘faculty voice’.  For some faculty, OE has been a background murmur that is only now demanding their attention.  This group certainly feels like OE is moving ahead without due diligence because they have missed OE’s ongoing evolution that first hit UCSF’s radar in February of 2010.  For the many faculty who have been deep in the heart of it these many months, OE feels like it is lasting forever and has been discussed ad-nauseam. 

After 16 months of development, OE is ready to test its assumptions. The discussion is therefore how to ensure that as OE rolls out, it works and it works well.  OE must rigorously work toward ensuring that the service, personal relationships and quality of administrative support that are core to how you work are up to your expectations.  Your voice will be more important than ever.

The critical question is: As OE rolls out how can it be improved?’  OE is building a metrics program for gathering data that is meaningful for both the short and longer term impact.  For faculty participating in Pre-award Phase I, their participation in these metrics and the individual feedback will provide the base for improved services in the subsequent phases.

OE is moving ahead. Push-back is not new; it is just louder right now. But push-back is now, and has been, an inherent component of building OE. The OE recommendations are the result of months of robust discussions.  OE Work Groups – comprised of hundreds of our colleagues- came up with the recommendations. During that process, there were months of intense discussion as each component was evaluated.  The OE solutions are the result of a process whose signature is rigor and candid broad-base input. 

It is true, and appropriate, that sometimes we pay closer attention when ‘it’ seems more real and likely to affect our immediate work day.  Much of the more recent rumored push-back has been in the form of very thoughtful suggestions that are being seriously considered by the implementation team.  The debate will and should continue while we test the model.  The ability to refine and improve based on constructive input will continue to drive stronger and better services.

Yes, the OE Pre-award and AP/HR new organizational structures are moving ahead. The completed, tested and ‘go live’ systems may not be fully ready by ‘launch’ date but significant work has been accomplished already.  Our integrated timeline shows the projected ‘go live’ dates.  The importance of the systems to AP/HR and Pre-award shouldn’t be overlooked. But the clusters are not a ‘set-up’ to lay people off and they are certainly more than just a system.

Clusters/teams are about streamlining the now cumbersome processes; they are about intense training and professional recognition for that level of expertise; they are about establishing consistency throughout campus among classification, roles & responsibility, salary equity and career paths; they are about working within a team of colleagues that are there to back you up when you are sick or want to go on vacation.

To put this in perspective, the existence of individuals who receive higher salaries has always been part of the UC system and UCSF. In fact, all organizations, by necessity, have individuals in senior leadership positions that are paid more than individuals who are not in positions of significant leadership.  This is true for academic institutions, in government and in private industry.  It is true in the Office of the Chancellor and Executive Vice Chancellor, for our Deans’ Offices and within our Departments.   

What seems to be inherent in these concerns about the ‘inner circle’ is the unspoken sense that the individuals with ‘big salaries’ are protected and those who aren’t in that group are at risk. No one person or group at UCSF is immune to the stresses of these financial challenges. The 50% cut in the Chancellor and EVCP offices involved senior leadership as well as staff.  

Because UCSF is facing fiscal challenges that are profound, we can’t ‘fix’ the fact that individuals are struggling and at risk. But we can make sure that individuals have the information, the tools and resources they need to understand these changes and be equipped personally and professionally to succeed. Please see the Managing Change resources we’ve posted.

David Odato, the Chief Administrative and Human Resources Officer, responded directly to this rumor.


There is no plan being developed at UC Office of the President (UCOP) or UCSF to recreate an early retirement incentive program like the ones offered in the 1990s.  Given the funding status of UCOP and the need for both increased employer and employee contributions to cover the current normal cost and legacy liabilities, it would be imprudent to add additional cost to that program at this time (by providing individuals additional service credit or age factor consideration).






There are several aspects to consider in answering this rumor.  First, ultimately, it is the responsibility of the Department and Department Manager to make the decisions about how to structure the work and staffing within their own departments.  Chairs and Managers may have to make those really tough decisions to meet budget cuts.

However, the work related to HR and pre-award research administration will be moving into the newly forming clusters.  That particular work will no longer be completed within the department so those duties will not be offloaded to Assistants.  The positions within the new HR and pre-award clusters will be posted and all current UCSF career employees are welcome and encouraged to apply.  For example, it is possible that the analyst who was doing pre-award in the department may wind up doing the work in a cluster.

We would be delusional if we thought we could provide information in such a way that everyone was satisfied. There are fundamental differences to how we each process and react to the same information. 

During the months of planning, ‘what we don’t know’ dominated the news and made for some lackluster updates.  That wait for concrete information has become untenable for many of you.  Yet, without those updates, others would have felt that things were being done in secret and the concerns of the community were not being considered.

Each of the Work Groups is moving at differing paces so the level of firm detail will be varied. 

Research Administration is at the point where it now knows more details and is able to share that information. The Guide for Volunteer Departments includes close to 40 questions/answers. A Brown Bag, April 7th, will announce the new positions and the framework for forming the Phase I team.

The Readiness group is finalizing the hiring strategies and principles for individuals that may choose to work within a cluster.  These will be posted on the website soon.

Academic Personnel/Human Resources (AP/HR) needs more time to reach decisions on implementation before it steps forward with a more detailed timeline.  Finance continues to work on cleaning up processes and policies that make our work unnecessarily burdensome.  IT just held its 4th annual update and continues to post information.

This is a classic case of ‘in the absence of real information, imagination fills the void.’  Fortunately, April 7th is a Brown Bag that will talk to the actual hiring practices that will be utilized to staff the clusters.  The kick-off for the first OE positions for Pre-Award will be announced at this same Brown Bag.

No one has been secretly or publically hired into a new cluster.  No deals have been made either. The Clusters don’t even exist yet.

Retaining great employees is certainly high on every Manager’s list.  No one wants to lose the best employees.  Every legitimate step will be taken, as it is now, to retain individuals that really add value to our workplace. When it is appropriate, we would hope that Managers encourage and support their strong employees - whether they choose to apply for a new cluster position or to remain within the department. Regardless, filling the new OE positions will be an open, transparent and clearly defined process. The hiring criteria will be clearly spelled out. 

In the meantime, only one OE related Cluster position has been posted and the recruitment is underway.  This OE position is the Training Director for Research Administration. In April, several Research Services Coordinator positions and the Cluster Director Position will be posted.

Chancellor Sue Desmond-Hellmann responded directly to the rumor:

"What I think is often misunderstood about OE is that the intent is not to keep doing our jobs the same way as before, but just with fewer people.  Instead, it is about being thoughtful about how we work and identifying innovative and more efficient ways of doing our jobs.  I want to challenge all of us to ask ourselves “why are we doing it this way?”, and if the answer is “because it’s always been done that way”, then to see if there might be a better way.   Entrepreneurial and innovative thinking is one of our greatest strengths as an organization and we need to apply that to OE.

I understand that this is difficult. My own office underwent a dramatic change with a 43% reduction in staff by streamlining and automating processes – and we are hitting our goals. Across all groups at UCSF, we have made tremendous progress and are on track to meet our target of $50M per year in savings by 2013.  I want to thank every person who has contributed to this critical process."

When budgets are cut and there are fewer individuals getting the work done, it is more important than ever that the individuals now doing the work are the most qualified.  This is the time that departments and newly forming clusters will be relying on individuals who bring experience, expertise and energy - and who are also determined, resourceful and proactive. 

These are going to be really difficult decisions because they affect people.  We not only want to make sure that budgetary goals are met, but we recognize that cost alone is not the only consideration when it comes to improving the way we work.  It is about what the individual brings to the job to ensure success.

There is much well-deserved pride surrounding the culture of UCSF and the subcultures that exist throughout the schools and departments.  It is understandable that we want to preserve our culture as it is inextricably intertwined with the very heart of our community.  Cultures are not easily dismantled.  Fortunately, a culture is also dynamic and can evolve with new experiences.  While our culture adapts to these new circumstances, it will still retain its unique identity.  There is nothing mutually exclusive between OE and preserving local UCSF cultures.

While this topic falls outside of the OE scope, we are happy to share what we found out.  Yes, it does apply to ambulatory nurses as well.  All Medical Center RN's will be provided with uniforms.  You might find more information on this website:

You make an excellent point: those individuals impacted by the changes need to be part of identifying the solution.  It is critical that any OE changes represent the best possible solutions.  To add to the complexity, each solution has to work for many levels - within a department, for the schools and for the central offices. 

We have worked hard to create as many opportunities for individuals to contribute their own ideas.  Each person you see listed in Work Groups represents a larger constituent of colleagues.  The work groups and subcommittees include managers, faculty and staff at many levels.  The individual members of a work group bring to the table their own experience as well as that of their colleagues.  By providing names and photos, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to contact them if you have questions or want to make a suggestion. 

We have 42 different links on the website to make it easy to send your own comments/concerns (just as you did with this comment).  In the Archive section, you will see an events summary document that shows the various forums used to communicate with the campus.  At each one there will be ample opportunity for attendees to make suggestions or provide comments.

We have posted the actual working group papers from each of the work groups to give you further insight into what is being discussed and recommended.  Please feel free to send us comments on particular areas that are of interest to you.