Goal 6: Use Technology to Expand Access and Opportunities
Strategy 6.3: Re-Balance Centralized/Dispersed Facilities/Services for Greater Efficiency and Effectiveness
The balance between centralized and dispersed information technology infrastructure and services tends to swing like a pendulum in most organizations, and universities are no exception, except perhaps that they at times allow a level of dispersion that would be unacceptable in most business organizations. New technologies (for instance, for mass storage) will require a more centralized approach to be cost effective for the University. And it has become increasingly clear that, at Penn State, as the pendulum has swung to a dispersed system, considerable redundancy and inefficiency have emerged in the overall IT system. This has resulted in a plethora of IT equipment spread across colleges, campuses, departments, and administrative units that is not appropriately staffed, maintained, or utilized.
Re-balancing is not about creating a highly centralized and bureaucratic IT infrastructure and administration at Penn State; rather, it is fundamentally about creating partnerships with college, campus, and administrative units to provide infrastructure and services at the level that best addresses the teaching, research, outreach, and administrative functions of those constituencies—and the overall University—in ways that are both responsive to local needs, are cost effective, and avoid redundancies. These partnerships will require some units to relinquish local control over some systems and applications and some to take on additional IT responsibilities, and the system must reward units that make changes with better service and lower costs, particularly for “commodity” services. The Vice Provost for Information Technology must take the lead for convening a major task force to work collaboratively to find the best balance points between centralized and dispersed IT infrastructure in order to derive the best possible mix of service for the lowest possible costs.