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Planning & Budget: Technology

Meeting of the UWM Council on Information Technology

November 10, 2003

Proposal from the Desktop Purchasing Core Service Team
Draft of Acceptable Use Policy
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Committee
Progress of core service team efforts
Policy on attaching equipment to the campus network
Guidelines for online courses


Chair John Wanat, Allen Bell, Susan Kelly, Tom Luljak, Mary Roggeman, Erika Sander and ex-officio members Joe Douglas and Mike Rupp and guests Bruce Maas and David Stack (reporting)

Approval of the Minutes

The minutes of the April 4, 2003 meeting were erroneously distributed to the committee. The previous committee meeting was held on July 14, 2003, but no minutes were taken.

Proposal from the Desktop Purchasing Core Service Team

Joe Douglas reported that the Desktop Purchasing core service team was convened in May. Desktop purchasing was chosen as the first test of the core service approach because it had the potential for the greatest monetary return to the units, and purchasing computers is a straightforward process. The team is led by Assistant Dean Elizabeth Bolt and includes representation from a wide variety of stakeholders, including the Purchasing office.

The team examined how the campus currently acquires desktop PCs, but not Macintoshes or laptops. The proposed process designates a person in each unit to collate the purchase information for their area, consolidate the information on a spreadsheet, arrange financing and gain approval from their UBR, and submit the order to Purchasing. Ed Seeberg of Purchasing and Joe Smith of I&MT will negotiate the best volume purchase price for campuswide orders that will be timed to coincide with the end of the vendor's fiscal quarters.

All of the savings, potentially $150-$200 per computer, will be accrued to the campus units and result in total savings of $300K - $400K per year. Support costs will also be reduced due to standardization and the pre-loading of software images by the chosen vendor. Although not strictly mandatory, it is expected that deans and business managers will find the program useful for all non-emergency purchases. The Computer Acquisition Program (CAP) is just one of the possible sources of funds for the process, which is designed to acquire computers at the least possible cost.

Mike Rupp noted that the process is designed to make it easy for each unit to do the right thing, as compared to ordering computers on an ad hoc basis which is more expensive. Erika Sander inquired about transitioning between hardware vendors. Joe Douglas expects the vendors to be competitive and for the volume to create significant leverage for support services. By reducing the number of vendors, the support needs will be reduced as well. Whatever burdens do exist when changing vendors will be borne by the support staff rather than the end users.

The Provost inquired about the latitude of customization. Joe Douglas replied that custom computers can be ordered because decisions about specific computer configurations will be made locally. The vendor will be primarily interested in the overall volume.

The IMTP Committee and the UTRs have been largely supportive of the effort as proposed. Allen Bell reported that the ITPC was concerned that the process allow sufficient flexibility for purchases made from grant funds, both in terms of delivery time and configuration. The Provost suggested calling the process a desktop purchasing option, rather than purchasing policy.

Dean Kelly suggested that the deans and associate deans could help sell the service. Joe Douglas is scheduled to address the Academic Deans Council in December. Mike Rupp noted that proposal is on the agenda of the UBR meeting later this week.

Joe Douglas reported that the language on Macintoshes is also being softened. Allen Bell concurred that this was a sensitive issue with the ITPC because Macintosh computers are required in certain programs and disciplines. Another concern of the ITPC was having faculty representation on the ongoing procurement team. The Provost suggested that a member of the ITPC could join the team. Joe Douglas agreed that having an ITPC member on the team would be more expedient than bringing the recommendations to the full ITPC for approval. The Provost concurred that he would prefer to use the ITPC rather than creating another entity.

Questions also arose in the ITPC as to how the four representatives from academic units would be chosen. Erika Sander suggested that deans could consult with the technology experts in their areas and appoint representatives. Bruce Maas said there will be a meeting with the University Committee to discuss faculty representation on core service teams in general.

The ITPC was further concerned about the mention of a four year replacement cycle. Even though cascading computers causes difficulties and expenses, some members of the ITPC expressed the need to cascade computers over long periods of time to support graduate students. Joe Douglas replied that the point of the statement is to make people aware of the real costs of cascading computers as compared to the markedly reduced costs of purchasing new computers at the proposed pricing structure. Erika Sander reported that TAs often come to bargaining sessions and complain about the old computers they are given to use vis-a-vis the assignments they are expected to complete. Susan Kelly recommended that the proposal list the real costs of cascading the computers because many people feel it is a worthwhile practice. Joe Douglas noted that I&MT does not support the majority of desktop computers on campus. Most desktop computers are supported by the 100+ IT staff in the local units, so using old computers doesn't necessarily shift support costs to the Help Desk and I&MT.

At the next meeting, the Provost would like to see a finished draft that takes into account the feedback of the other IT governance groups. Joe Douglas noted the units in Enderis Hall are already testing this practice in actual use. Letters and Science is also experimenting with giving new faculty a high end, standard computer as part of their startup package instead of a fixed sum of money. Bruce Maas commended Elizabeth Bolt's leadership and the good will of all of the members of the team.

Draft of Acceptable Use Policy

The University's existing acceptable use policies are many years old. Legal Affairs has taken the lead in drafting a replacement. The other IT governance committees have already made suggestions. The University Committee has referred the draft to the ITPC for review and would like it to have a more collegial tone in order to be an easier sell. Allen Bell reported that the ITPC concurred with the issue of tone. As written, the paragraphs listing the University's rights to inspect computers and files concerned the ITPC in regard to the storing of sensitive and legally confidential research data, e.g., survey responses and personnel files. The Provost said that to his knowledge the only time this sort of action has been taken is when there was compelling prima facia evidence, e.g., someone witnessing what the viewing of what appeared to be child pornography.

The ITPC was also concerned about the definition of faculty work time versus non-work time, and the need for monitoring by a faculty "supervisor".

Allen Bell noted that the ITPC has met once and discussed the proposal, however a motion has not been formulated. Erika Sander mentioned the faculty's concerns about the powers that are invested in temporary, ad hoc and student helpers who work on unit LANs. She asked the ITPC to make at least preliminary recommendations to the University Committee when they meet again in two weeks.

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Committee

An ad hoc team has been formed by the IMTP to look at the requirements of the GLB Act in regards to the University's handling of "personally identifiable financial information." They have sent a survey instrument to the UBRs.

Other Business

Progress of core service team efforts

The work of the core service teams and other ad hoc teams is reported on the OIT website, There are currently about a dozen core service teams in operation. Thus far, core service teams have only addressed computing and networking issues, not voice or media. Those efforts are forthcoming.

Policy on attaching equipment to the campus network

In light of the recent virus and worm attacks, the OIT will do a national survey and recommend a policy for how and when devices can be attached to the campus network. The Provost noted that putting a computer on the network is like driving a car on the highway, there is a shared responsibility to the other drivers.

Guidelines for online courses

Associate Provost for e-Learning Susan Kelly reported that a set of guidelines for putting academic programs online will be circulated to the deans and associate deans shortly. It will provide information on timelines, costs, personnel resources, etc.