Regents direct schools to save on supplies

IOWA CITY (AP) – Iowa’s three public universities will be directed to negotiate new, master contracts for goods and services in the coming months under a consultant-led effort approved Wednesday to cut costs.

Their governing body, the Iowa Board of Regents, voted to require the schools to work together to negotiate “more favorable contracts” for office supplies, furniture, food, shipping, maintenance materials and temporary labor.

The end result will be bigger contracts with regional and national vendors that pool the schools’ purchasing power to drive savings. The consolidated contracts will also standardize the items that are purchased at the three schools, which will cut costs, according to Board President Bruce Rastetter.

The move could trim the $900 million annually that the schools spend on purchasing by up to $40 million, officials said, but could also bring some controversy and resistance.

The vote marks the first cost-saving plan approved by the regents under its contract with Deloitte Consulting, which was hired earlier this year to identify potential cost savings at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. The regents have already agreed to pay Deloitte $3.3 million for its work. The board Wednesday authorized its executive director to negotiate an additional contract of unspecified size to help implement the purchasing initiative.