Technology Fee Advisory Committee
Thursday, Dec. 6, 2007
IACC 204 – 3-4 p.m.
Special meeting at the request of Bonnie Neas, Vice President for Information Technology
Members Present: Anne Denton, Gary Fisher, Peter Gregory Jeff Gerst, Cathy Hanson, Lalita Jyoti, Kalpana Katti, , Rian Nostrum, Marc Wallman, (The names of voting members are presented in regular type. The names of non-voting members are presented in italics type.)
Members Absent: Kevin Brooks, Geoffrey Childress, Brian Fier, Abram Jackson, Christopher McEwen, David Wittrock
Bonnie Neas, Vice President for Information Technology, welcomed everyone and thanked the committee for their contribution to the TFAC. She then gave a brief overview of her new position and talked about her personal background in relationship to IT. She now has oversight for this committee.
General IT overview
Bonnie shared a summary of IT changes and needs for the campus, indicating much has changed over the years except for base budgets for IT needs and support. She talked about the transitioning of the TFAC portfolio to the new division and being able to identify how projects have been managed in the past and will be looking at ways to provide the TFAC with more fiscal accountability.
She indicated there are ~1.8M new dollars in the fund for FY 07-08, and that should continue to grow as student enrollment grows. Historically, an inconsistent balance is carried over as a contingency fund. She would like the support and approval of this group to use 15% of the collected fee as a guideline for sustaining a contingency fund balance for special funding requests or emergency situations. She also wanted to know if a special request or need came forth, other than during the funding cycle, if the committee was comfortable allowing her discretionary power to fund without approval of the committee. Peter Gregory, a student member, was fine with the 15% contingency guideline, but felt the committee should be aware of all requests made where funding would come out of this reserve source. The request doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal proposal, but should be descriptive and with general budgetary needs. The TFAC should be informed at least, when such requests are being considered.
She also talked about the funding of some of the basic core programs IT supports – student technology services, Blackboard – annual licensing and maintenance, wireless and other infrastructure needs. The question was raised, should those budget requests be a fixed amount (cost) or a percentage basis. The example was 15-20% would be for infrastructure services.
Discussion related to Blackboard use, whereby statistics may be important, also storage needs, and upgrades. Also, Bonnie would like to see a more significant reporting effort of accountability to those TFAC supported projects even though proposals aren’t brought before the committee. The committee should know in total how the money is being allocated.
Discussion: to bond or not?
Bonnie provided background history in regard to how the TFAC got its start. In the spring of 1995 the North Dakota Legislature authorized the state to issue $4 million in revenue bonds to pay for campus networking infrastructure. No state funds were appropriated to pay for these bonds; it was up to the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education to find a revenue source to repay the bonds. In the fall of 1995 the State Board of Higher Education required all campuses to start collecting a Technology Fee, to be used to pay back the revenue bond over a ten year period and to fund other needed technology items on the campus. In 2006 the bond payments ended. In 2007, the payment of $141K was used to support ConnectND. The 2007 legislative session appropriated funds for ConnectND needs, where now the $141K + can be retained by NDSU.
Today, we are seeing a need for additional revenue to help upgrade much of the campus infrastructure, buildings, and continued technology support. The question has been raised whether it’s more fiscally responsible to look at obtaining another bond, or to continue to apply the $141K plus additional funds toward our campus infrastructure on a yearly basis. There are certainly pros and cons to either approach. With a bond – we’d get the money in a lump sum. With an annual dedicated percentage, there would be easier budget controls and we’d take more advantage of leasing options for equipment and infrastructure needs.
Bonnie talked about some of current money we’ve received – we did get 1M (Dept of Defense) for some single mode fiber and 10 gigabyte connections for 4-6 buildings.
Bonnie will continue to investigate further available revenue sources to further advance campus infrastructure and will provide this committee with that information for comment.
Late proposal request
Bonnie shared a late proposal request from Ron Johnson, College of Business that requests funding for Finance and Accounting Databases subscription or licensing costs. The two programs Standard & Poors University and Government Research Insight Network $17,107.70; and Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP) data tapes $18,400 for a total of $35,507.70. In past years, this has been funded by Tech Fee money, however, there has never been a formal proposal request submitted. The consensus was to fund this request this year, but to inform the PI that a formal request should be submitted during one of the funding cycle and not to assume this will be automatically being funded each year. Discussions indicated the College of Business might want to look at whether this might become a department budget item, or become be part of the library subscriptions.
- Bonnie will work on putting together a proposal addressing the 15% contingency fund allowance.
- In conjunction with other campus leaders, she will continue to investigate the issues of how to finance campus infrastructure needs (bond vs setting aside a portion of campus tech fee).
- She will pursue asking for an accounting/reporting for those projects that are being funded without a formal proposal.
- The committee requested proposals or special IT needs that come in outside of the traditional funding cycles be submitted and reviewed for comment by the committee before being awarded funding from the contingency fund.
Cathy Hanson, recorder