- Project Team
Why is The University moving forward with the Mosaic Project during this time of financial uncertainty?
- Considering the current state of the university's financial situation, I'm not at all sure Mosaic is a good idea to implement right now. We may need a new infrastructure for all these aspects of the university, and we may need it badly, but I think we need to keep classes open first. People are talking about closing down large proportions of the university. Let's wait and see what's left before we build an infrastructure for it, and before we devote money we don't have even for basic operating expenses to building new infrastructure. Otherwise we will have wasted money we don't have, that could have been used to keep things running for at least a few more months, on building an infrastructure that won't work for what little of the university is left after the cuts. The people working on Mosaic may not want to be put on hold, but if large parts of the university are shut down, they'll lose their jobs too.
- This seems ill-timed in light of the current fiscal crisis. Whatever the eventual need to upgrade the university computer system might be, the expense of this (at least $20 Million) should be delayed until the more pressing educational institutional issues have been resolved.
We know that many are asking how we can afford such an ambitious project during a time when The University of Arizona is facing so many economic challenges. The simple answer may be that we cannot afford not to. The current suite of administrative systems is 30 years old and poses significant risks from an operational and compliance standpoint. Modernizing these mission-critical systems and re-engineering the associated business processes will position the UA for the future. In the face of these extraordinary pressures, we are investing for the long term.
The five-year budget for Mosaic is $80 million, with a contingency of $10 million. Almost all of the implementation work is scheduled for the first three years, with years 4 and 5 representing the ongoing post-project operation, including maintenance, support, etc. Also, the budget presented to the campus and to the Regents is a more fully disclosed inclusive budget than is frequently done. For example, internal transfers of project monies to departments providing staff to the project are included. If we were to focus on the first three years, and on the "out of pocket" expenditures, we would be looking at something closer to $40 million.
Funding for this project is from several sources. A 15-year loan is being established with the pay-back from existing administrative systems funds. The balance of funds will be from University allocated resources using one-time monies and sufficient permanent dollars to sustain the ongoing systems operation and maintenance at the end of project implementation. If we delayed the project now, the funds expended to date would become a sunk cost and starting anew would be more expensive, both in resources and lost opportunities. It would be like starting all over again.
The project is doing well so far, with some parts doing better than expected, and others not as well as expected. On an overall basis, however, the project is in good shape and is on budget. The monthly status reports give a more detailed overview of project status. (See http://www.mosaic.arizona.edu/.) We are very mindful of bringing to the University what we've been entrusted to deliver. Based on the participation and cooperation of all those on campus with whom we've been working, we are confident that we are on the right track.