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Administrative Unit Reviews

Category: Operations
Number: OPS-130-006
Audience: All University employees
Issued: January 01, 2009
Revised: June 14, 2018
Owner(s): VP (Administration)
Approved by: President and Vice-Chancellor
Contact: Vice-President (Administration) - 306-585-4386

Introduction

The purpose for administrative unit reviews at the University of Regina is to allow for a formative evaluation of the administrative unit under review.  A formative review process provides useful information on the effectiveness and efficiency of administrative units (including ancillary units).  Administrative units can then use this information to support improvements and to inform the internal planning process.

The review process can be the catalyst for self-assessment, innovation and change with the potential to improve internal systems and client service.  The process can help to ensure that the administrative unit is actively supporting department/unit and institutional level strategic plans.  Information gathered through the review process can also be used to inform University level planning.

The formalized administrative unit review process is not meant to limit or inhibit existing organizational development work.  Managers are encouraged to continue to conduct period internal reviews on an as needed basis.  Rather, the administrative unit review process is intended to augment the ongoing work that is done internally.

Policy

Regular Administrative Reviews are required of all administrative units to ensure that effectiveness and efficiency are maintained in line with the University Strategic Plan. Suggestions for an Administrative Review can come from many sources including the Board, or the University Leadership Team. A regular schedule of planned reviews should be maintained. The coordination of the review process is the responsibility of the Vice President to which the unit in question ultimately reports. 

The Vice President may delegate responsibility for the review process within the line of reporting for the unit being reviewed; however, the responsibility for the evaluation process should not be delegated to the individual who is directly responsible for the administrative unit under review.

The Vice President will ensure that the process is appropriately resourced. While the administrative unit self-study may be resourced by the entity under review, adequate resources also need to be provided to the review committee or consultant to support the review process.

Consequences for Noncompliance

Administrative Units who fail to engage in an Administrative Unit Review coordinated by their Vice President will fail in the University’s continued pursuit to implement best organizational practices.  Ongoing disregard of the need for continuous review and improvement will impact the organization's long term viability.

Processes

Review Process

1.    Initiation

An administrative unit review will be initiated according to the administrative reviews cycle.  However, an administrative unit review should also be considered in response to significant resource requests, or program or service concerns.

In contemplating the initiation of an administrative unit review, consideration should also be given to work cycles, other ongoing administrative reviews within the same department and any other factors that could impact the success of the review.  Departments, offices and units may also initiate a request for a review to correspond with internal planning cycles or a change in leadership.

Based on the nature and composition of the administrative unit under review, the Vice President will determine the form of the review process.  While the administrative unit self-study will form part of the review process in almost all cases, the external review process can take a number of forms (e.g. internal review committee, combination internal and external review committee or external consultant).

When an administrative unit review is to be initiated, notification will first be provided to the department, office and/or unit that is the subject of the review.  Notice will be provided at least two months prior to the commencement of the review in order to give the entity that is the subject of the review time to plan for the internal resource demands that the review process will require.

Within one month of notification, the administrative unit will begin work on the self-study portion of the review process.  This will allow the administrative unit time to prepare and assemble the self-study materials prior to the official launch of the review.

2.    Time Frame

The review process will typically be conducted on a seven-year cycle.  Ideally, administrative units will be reviewed once during a seven-year period.

3.    Administrative Unit Self-Study

The administrative unit self-study will commence as soon after the administrative unit is notified of the review as possible.  As the name denotes, the unit self-study will be coordinated by the administrative unit under review.  Resourcing for the process will be determined in consultation with the Vice President.  The self-study is intended to assist the review committee or external consultant by providing the reviewer with background information on the administrative unit under review.  The focus of the self-study should be on key issues.

While it is important that the self-study fits the context of the administrative unit under review, a number of standard elements should be included in the report.  It will be up to the Vice President, in consultation with the AVP, Director or Manager, to determine what elements will be included in the self-study.  The review committee or consultant may also provide input to the Vice President on the self-study process. 

4.    Administrative Unit Self-Study Review

Once completed, the administrative unit self-study will be submitted to the Vice President for review.  The Vice President will ensure that the study is accurate and complete and will discuss any shortcoming or gaps with the AVP, Director or Manager.

Once the Vice President has completed a review of the self-study report, the head of the administrative unit under review will present the report to the review committee or the consultant.  This person will also serve as the resource person to the review committee or consultant for the administrative unit self-study report.

5.    Review Committee

In the event that a review committee is used as part of the review process, the committee will be broad-based in its composition.  The size of the review committee will be determined by the size and complexity of the administrative unit under review.  Members of the review committee will be selected by the Vice President.  Typically, the review committee will include:

  • an external member (i.e. outside the University) with expertise in the subject matter area;
  • one or two representatives from the academy who are familiar with the programs and services provided by the administrative unit;
  • any other members or expertise as deemed necessary or appropriate by the Vice President.

The administrative unit under review will be responsible for providing a list of potential external reviewers (at least three names) to the Vice President.  External reviewers should be placed on the list based on their background in the subject matter area and relevant related experience.  In the event that a review committee approach is used, the Vice President will select the external reviewer committee member from the list provided.  The review committee will exist for the duration of the review process and will disband once the review process is complete.

6.    External Consultant

For some administrative units an independent external consultant review process may be more appropriate and more expedient than the review committee approach.  Depending on the availability of a singular experienced subject matter expert, a consultant review process may be the preferred approach.  Indeed, this system has served the University well in the past.  Subject to discussion with the administrative unit involved and the final approval of the Vice President, the external consultant process may be selected rather than the review committee approach.

7.    Review Process Terms of Reference

The scope and nature of the review process is at the discretion of the Vice President.  However, as an outcome of the process, the review will express an opinion as to the effectiveness and efficiency of the administrative unit.

The review process will augment the administrative unit self-study with its own information gathering processes.  The review process is free to gather whatever information is required to support the necessary analysis.  This may include conducting surveys, focus groups and key informant interviews.

Once a decision on the nature and scope of the review process has been determined, a budget should be submitted to the Vice President for approval.  The Vice President will review the budget request and confirm that the required resources will be made available.

8.    Site Visit

The reviewer (review committee or external consultant) for a particular review may meet at the University for an appropriate period of time and prepare a report on the administrative unit reviewed.  It will consult widely in the preparation of this report with academic and administrative staff; students; administrators and alumni involved with the programs, services and activities of the administrative unit under review. 

Typically, the review committee or consultant will provide opportunities for consultation within the administrative unit; members of the university administration; and other individuals inside and outside of the university who influence or who are influenced by the activities of the administrative unit. 

The visit of the review committee or consultant is to be advertised broadly to the university community with an invitation for those who have a vested interest in the programs or services to contribute a written brief to the review committee or consultant prior to an advertised date.  Such briefs are for use by the review committee or consultant and will be held in confidence.

9.    Report

While the review committee or consultant prepares the report, the Vice President and AVP, Director or Manager of the administrative unit will be available to the reviewer to provide any additional information requested.

The findings and recommendations of the review committee or consultant should be presented in the form of a brief and concise written report (with an executive summary) which will be received by the Vice President on behalf of the University.  Provided that matters of individual sensitivity or confidentiality are handled with discretion, the report will be made available to the administrative unit under review and other interested parties.

Length of Review

The length of the review process, including the self-study initiative, should not exceed three months.  However, the length of time to conduct the review will be commensurate with the size and complexity of the administrative unit in question.

Review Process Costs

Responsibility for the costs of the administrative unit self-study will be determined by the Vice President in consultation with the AVP, Director or Manager of the administrative unit.  The cost of the review committee or consultant review process will be determined by the Vice President.

Response and Implementation

Once the report is released, the administrative unit will prepare a response.  The response will address the issues raised and clearly outline priorities, future direction and how the review committee or consultant recommendations will be addressed over the short, medium and long term.  The response will be provided to the Vice President.

The Vice President can accept, modify or reject the recommendations contained in the review process report and in the administrative unit’s proposed response.  However, in the case of significant modification or rejection, an appropriate explanation would be expected.

Follow-up

Within three years of the review process, the administrative unit will be invited by the Vice President to report on the review process - commenting on the consequences of the review and outlining any initiatives undertaken in response to the review.  The AVP, Director or Manager responsible for the administrative unit will also be asked at this time to outline plans for the coming three to five years.