Haslam: No retaliation against campuses that won’t outsource
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday that his administration won’t retaliate against several University of Tennessee campuses that opted against his effort to privatize facilities management services at higher education institutions.
During budget hearings, Haslam said he’s disappointed with how the process played out, but his administration won’t give less money to higher education because of choices that were left up to each campus.
Last week, the university’s campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin opted against outsourcing facilities management to Chicago-based real estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle, the Haslam administration’s choice for the statewide contract.
“There’s no recrimination from us, in my role as governor, anybody else’s role,” Haslam said. “We meant what we said. This was a tool to use if you found it to be to your benefit.”
The Health Science Center in Memphis is the only UT campus to opt in, but officials there only intend to have the company take over mechanical services that are already outsourced through a consortium with the University of Memphis and Southwest Tennessee Community College.
According to JLL’s proposals, the flagship Knoxville campus was projected to save $5.8 million annually, while the Martin campus was expected to save more than $93,000 a year.
University of Tennessee System President Joe DiPietro said he will hold chancellors of those campuses accountable for finding equivalent savings without outsourcing.
Outsourcing at the Chattanooga campus, meanwhile was expected to cost about $263,200 more annually than to keep performing the services in-house.
DiPietro said that some people within the university system and outside of it had a “preconceived bias” about outsourcing. He said the worker’s union, some facilities management people and some state lawmakers were among those who were opinionated from the beginning.
“What should happen is, you let that entire process play out,” DiPietro said. “You wait until you see a proposal, you evaluate that proposal, you look at your numbers and you figure out whether the cost savings is available to you and whether you want to do it.”
State officials have promised no one would lose their jobs and workers would get equivalent pay and benefits if the facilities services were privatized.
The United Campus Workers union has fought the plan, saying it still could carry hidden costs and threaten job security and benefits through loopholes.
Last week, UT-Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport said the decision to opt out is due to the university’s extensive financial analyses, the complexity of the work done on the research-intensive campus and its commitment to East Tennessee’s economy and its workforce.
Davenport wrote that the university ranks among the lowest in the Southeastern Conference in administrative and maintenance costs per square foot, and five-year projections indicate $3.3 million more in savings.