IT Department phases out charge backs

By Samantha Malone

DeKALB | An elimination of charge backs in the Department of Informational Technology has begun as a result of program prioritization.

Program Prioritization uses task forces to create reports that review 223 academic programs and 236 administrative programs to influence the allocation of university funds. The reports were based on narratives submitted by program leaders in November, according to an April 26 Northern Star article.

The current charge back model requires IT to charge other departments that use its services because of a lack of central funding for IT. The phase out began a few months ago for most central IT charge back services, President Doug Baker said in a Sept. 1 email.

The goal of eliminating charge backs in IT is to improve the efficiency of the department said IT Vice President Brett Coryell.

“The university thinks, and I agree, that we need to eliminate the charge back method,” said Coryell.

Coryell said the department has also already eliminated 85 percent of charge back costs associated with telephones and wireless billing. The next step is to eliminate charge backs associated with Blackboard, NIU’s online course management system.

Having a more efficient IT department will help NIU to cut back on spending by saving time previously spent on redundant actions, Coryell said. This will save money for NIU, but not for IT.

“The elimination of charge backs doesn’t fix the pain points of IT,” Coryell said. “It improves efficiency but not funding.”

Coryell said he agrees with the task force reports and everything IT is trying to do is being supported, but he still has financial struggles for the department.

Academic Technology Support, which provides NIU’s core academic applications for student, was the only one of 19 programs submitted by IT to be placed in the enhancement category by task forces. Programs placed in this category are recognized to need more financial support from NIU.

In the program narrative submitted by IT, a request was made to improve Academic Technology Support by updating software and hardware and being allowed a larger staff.

“Right now we have one person who runs the financial part of IT,” Coryell said. “If that person wins the lottery or gets hit by a bus, we can’t sustain the loss of that one person.”

Coryell said he hopes to receive more support for staffing as a result of program prioritization. This could be another important step for the department as it attempts to overcome the shortage of funding it is receiving.

“My major financial problem right now is that we don’t have funding to replace our equipment,” Coryell said. “My budget doesn’t and never has had funding to refresh equipment.”