UT system campuses reject Haslam’s outsourcing plan

University of Tennessee administrators announced Tuesday that they will not be participating in a proposed facilities outsourcing plan pushed by Gov. Bill Haslam, reports the News Sentinel.

The announcements by UT Chattanooga, UT Knoxville, UT Martin and the UT Health Science Center end more than two years of speculation as to whether campuses in the UT system would participate in the plan and raise questions about whether other public campuses across the state will follow suit.

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport first announced today a decision not to participate in the proposed facilities outsourcing plan in a statement posted on a UT website.

Excerpt:

The goal of the proposed outsourcing plan was to improve efficiencies and determine what is in the best interest of our campus. We thank the state and the UT System administration for challenging us to engage in extensive cost analyses and an evaluation of our practices, which have led to cost-saving operational changes in keeping with the outsourcing goals.

My decision to opt out was based on the extensive analyses of the financial considerations, the complexity of the work done on our research-intensive campus, and our commitment to the East Tennessee economy and our workforce. It is for these reasons that I have decided outsourcing facilities management is not the best option for our campus.

Further from the News Sentinel:

The announcement ends more than two years of speculation as to whether UT Knoxville would participate in the plan and raises questions about whether other public campuses across the state will follow suit. 

…The plan first announced by the state in August 2015 sought to add public college campuses, state parks and prisons to a contract with Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle for an estimated savings of $35 million annually.

But United Campus Workers, the union representing state university employees, and others have fought vehemently against the plan, expressing concerns about hidden costs and a loss of benefits and job security for employees.

…State Sen. Richard Briggs, R- Knoxville, said the announcement is the best possible homecoming gift UT could have announced.

“I’m absolutely elated,” he said. “I’m so glad this has been settled. We’re going to have so many constituents who will be able to have the holidays without this hanging over their heads.

“I would like to complement (UT President Joe DiPietro) and Dr. Davenport for making what I think was the right decision. It was the right decision for the people who work over there and I think ultimately it will be proven to be the right financial decision.”

When asked if a number of protests against outsourcing and lawmaker push back or dollars and cents played into UT’s decision, Briggs said it was both.

“I think that when UT sat down and did an analysis of what was being proposed the results looked different than what JLL proposed,” he said.

Note: This updates and replaces much or the original post.

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