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Achieving Operational Excellence at University of California, Berkeley Final Diagnostic Report – Complete Version

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


This UC Berkeley report gathered and analyzed data from across the campus and identified several key areas that offer significant opportunities to improve campus operational effectiveness and reduce the costs of campus operations that support Berkeley's teaching and research mission. In addition, the report recommended that a program office be established to oversee and guide the work of design and implementation. 

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When UC Berkeley announced its elimination of student sports including baseball, men’s, and women’s gymnastics, women’s lacrosse teams and its defunding of the national-champion men’s rugby team, the chancellor sighed, “Sorry, but this was necessary!”

But was it?  Yes, the university is in dire financial straits. Yet $7.2 million was somehow found by Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau ($500,000 salary) to pay the consulting firm to uncover waste, inefficiencies in UC Berkeley (Cal), despite the fact that a prominent East Coast university was accomplishing the same thing without expensive consultants.  

Essentially, the process requires collecting, analyzing information from faculty, staff.  Apparently, Cal senior management believe that the faculty, staff of their world-class university lacks the cognitive ability, integrity, energy to identify millions in savings.  If consultants are necessary, the reason is clear:  the chancellor has lost credibility with the people who provided the information to the consultants.  Chancellor Robert J Birgeneau has reigned for eight years, during which time the inefficiencies proliferated to $150 million.  Even as Bain’s recommendations are implemented (‘They told me to do it’, Birgeneau), credibility, trust, problems remain. 

Bain is interviewing faculty, staff, senior management and academic senate leaders to identify $150 million in inefficiencies, most of which could have been found internally. One easy-to-identify problem, for example, was wasteful procurement practices such as failing to secure bulk discounts on printers.  But Birgeneau apparently has no concept of savings:  even in procuring a consulting firm he failed to receive proposals from other firms.


Students, staff, faculty, California Legislators are the victims of his incompetent decisions.   Now that sports teams are feeling the pinch, perhaps the California Alumni, benefactors, donors, will demand to know why Birgeneau is raking in $500,000 a year while abdicating his work responsibilities.


UC Berkeley reprimand, censure: NCAA places Chancellor Birgeneau’s men’s basketball program on two years probation.


Let there be light for transparency to UC Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau’s leadership


The author, who has 35 years’ consulting experience, has taught at University of California Berkeley, where he was able to observe the culture and the way the senior management operates.

World class preeminent public research and teaching University of California Berkeley (Cal) ranking drops.  In 2004 the London-based Times Higher Education ranked Cal the 2nd leading research university in the world, just behind Harvard; in 2009 that ranking tumbled to 39th. By 2011 Cal had not returned to 2nd place.