PIERRE, SD (KELO) – South Dakota state universities will take to heart the recommendations of an ongoing efficiency study and explore ways they can work, a South Dakota Board of Regents official assured a panel of state lawmakers Friday.
“Trust but verify,” Nathan Lukkes, the attorney general for the board of directors, told the legislature’s budget committee about the approach he felt was appropriate. “Trust the process, but at the same time it is your job to review the process.”
The Senate Act 55 The work was “an eye opener” for the universities and the regents, said Lukkes. “I think people heard you loud and clear.”
The regents started the task force in October in response to a law passed in 2020. The last meeting was last week in Spearfish at Black Hills State University, and there will be several more to come. The regents must report to the Legislative Committee and the Governor no later than November 15th.
The regents are established in the South Dakota Constitution to rule the state universities and are appointed by the governor with Senate approval. senator Jean Hunhoff asked Thursday how lawmakers can get regents to move forward. “That is my concern.”
Representative Steven Haugaard said the regents have a duty. “They just didn’t do it.” He asked if each of the six universities needed a president and if South Dakota needed all of the sites. He acknowledged that discussions are difficult because they affect communities dramatically.
“The ultimate hammer is the allocation of funds from the legislature. We can certainly cut off a hundred million dollars as an incentive if they aren’t doing their job, ”said Haugaard.
Representative Chris Karr The legislature has passed the concerns on to the others involved in the efforts of SB 55. He said the legislature’s working group was ready “with the pencil and the ax” two years ago to cut university budgets, but instead conducted the efficiency study.
The task force consists of three committees dealing with science, administration and infrastructure. Karr said the universities had already raised some issues that bothered lawmakers but didn’t tell.
Still, there are significant problems and potential efficiency benefits. The University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University compete for nursing students with competing programs offered in western South Dakota. Student catering services could be consolidated. Contract software systems are a patchwork quilt in universities, and the State Audit Office’s 18-year-old record keeping system is reportedly so fragile that it requires hard copy documents.
Karr said he doesn’t want the November report to collect dust on a shelf. “I think that will be implemented.” And he noted that the committee will still have the red pens.
Janice Minder, the Regents’ vice-president for academic policy and planning, said there are already results. She said the regents had committed to lean process efficiency training across the university system and would conduct two internal lean analyzes each year. “SB55 was helpful. Don’t let it stop “
Representative Hugh Bartels said he had “quite a strong commitment” from the Executive Director of the Regents, Brian Maher, and the Regents. “I think we have buy-ins to do something here.” Bartels said that standardizing information technology standards, for example, will be a big change and save a lot of money. “I’m really excited about that.”
Bartels expressed confidence that the plan can be drawn up. “I think we need to keep monitoring it,” he said. “I think we will get a better result than we fear – and I think it will work.”