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Administrative Payroll Too High, Union Charges

Report Issued in Midst of Benefits Fight

By Valerie J. Macmillan

The number of administrative jobs at Harvard and the University's administrative payroll have grown at an "alarming" rate compared to figures for to non-administrative positions, a report released today by the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers (HUCTW) charges.

"What we are trying to point out to the community is an extreme and surprising degree of growth during a time when there's nothing going on particularly to explain it," said Bill Jaeger, director of HUCTW. "[From 1990 to 1994] the number of administrators grew sharply, while the number of clerical and technical workers and the number of faculty were basically flatline."

The report also says the growth of the administrative payroll has exceeded that of the total budget by approximately three percentage points.

HUCTW leaders say they released the report to spur community discussions.

"Harvard as an organization is so decentralized that no one person knows...that this much growth has happened," said Donene Williams, president of HUCTW.

Merry D. Touborg, a spokesperson for the office of human resources, said the issue of administrative growth is not being ignored by the University.

"It has been looked at; it is being looked at; and it will continue to be looked at," Touborg said. "I think they are trying to resurrect an issue that is not new."

The report, which is based on statistics drawn from various sources, including a faculty committee and a project conducted by a graduate student, calls for a University committee to "engage in long-term analysis and develop possible solutions."

Touborg said she believes a such a committee will not be effective.

"I would argue that a University-wide approach would be completely inconsistent with Harvard's decentralized structure," Touborg said. "Those decisions are made on a unit-by-unit, department-by-department basis."

"The proof is in the pudding. The fact of the matter is, this system of allowing each tub to have autonomy about the way it makes its decisions about funding and staffing has worked to our advantage as an institution," she added.

HUCTW leaders did not portray the results of the decision-making apparatus in the same positive light.

"This looks to us like an area of serious and troubling mismanagement of the University's resources," Jaeger said.

"It's hard to know for sure because certain basic pieces of information are kept as closely-held state secrets, but based on the new things we can know in the last year, it's clear that nobody's making any effort to manage the costs associated with employing administrators at the University," he added.

Touborg said both President Neil L. Rudenstine and Provost Albert Carnesale have worked to hold the budget of the central administration to a growth rate of two percent per year.

The report comes amid discussions between the University and HUCTW about benefit cuts to part-time workers that will take effect on January 1.

The union says the cuts for part-time workers would save the University approximately $220,000, which they note is far less than the amount the payroll for administrators has grown in a four-year period.

Touborg said the comparison is not a fair one.

"No one is ever happy if efficiency means a change for them," she said. "It's always much more comfortable to view our own position, role and benefits as critical and feel there is some other place that is not as essential."

Cuts in health benefits for HUCTW employees, particularly the lowering of benefits for part-time workers, have been a source of controversy for nearly two years.

"We've spent at least $200,000 of their time discussing this," Williams said. "They're less concerned about the money and more about who decides.

"The proof is in the pudding. The fact of the matter is, this system of allowing each tub to have autonomy about the way it makes its decisions about funding and staffing has worked to our advantage as an institution," she added.

HUCTW leaders did not portray the results of the decision-making apparatus in the same positive light.

"This looks to us like an area of serious and troubling mismanagement of the University's resources," Jaeger said.

"It's hard to know for sure because certain basic pieces of information are kept as closely-held state secrets, but based on the new things we can know in the last year, it's clear that nobody's making any effort to manage the costs associated with employing administrators at the University," he added.

Touborg said both President Neil L. Rudenstine and Provost Albert Carnesale have worked to hold the budget of the central administration to a growth rate of two percent per year.

The report comes amid discussions between the University and HUCTW about benefit cuts to part-time workers that will take effect on January 1.

The union says the cuts for part-time workers would save the University approximately $220,000, which they note is far less than the amount the payroll for administrators has grown in a four-year period.

Touborg said the comparison is not a fair one.

"No one is ever happy if efficiency means a change for them," she said. "It's always much more comfortable to view our own position, role and benefits as critical and feel there is some other place that is not as essential."

Cuts in health benefits for HUCTW employees, particularly the lowering of benefits for part-time workers, have been a source of controversy for nearly two years.

"We've spent at least $200,000 of their time discussing this," Williams said. "They're less concerned about the money and more about who decides.

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