After occupying the office of University of Texas President Bill Powers, 18 students were arrested on charges of criminal trespass. They were protesting a new “shared services” program that would consolidate jobs and out-source work. Without endorsing their tactics, one conservative activist says the students might be missing a real scandal.
KVUE-TV reported that the students sat quietly in Powers’ office but refused to leave when asked. They were later booked into the Travis County Jail.
Students were protesting the portion of the plan calling for administrative consolidation and out-sourcing, which has also been opposed by a group of faculty members, according to the Texas Tribune.
The plan is being implemented according to the recommendations of a panel Powers appointed in 2012. The “UT Committee on Business Productivity” was helmed by the CEO of Accenture, a company paid more than $1 million for the job, and charged with bringing business-like efficiencies to the university.
While applauding the stated intentions, Tony McDonald, general counsel for Empower Texans, says the plan’s “shady origins” should be drawing more scrutiny than the “milquetoast recommendations.”
McDonald said the original contract with Accenture came in $5,000 below the $1 million-mark that would have triggered review by the UT Board of Regents.
“The contract was then amended twice without Regents’ approval to reach a total amount of more than $1,083,000,” according to McDonald and a Texas Tribune review of UT records.
The final report was a 32-page document. Of that total, eight pages were biographies of the committee members, two pages were devoted to the front and back covers, four pages were full color stock photos of studious coeds, and another two pages were devoted to a table of contents and a message from Powers. All told, there were only 16 pages of substantive content in the report, including the two page executive summary.
“Each of these proposals seem rather obvious, regardless of whether they are well-advised,” said McDonald. “Yet Accenture made over one million dollars to put them forward. And adding insult to injury, guess which company stands to make over $3 million overseeing the implementation of the much scorned ‘shared services’ plan? You guessed it: Accenture!”
An article in the Texas Tribune recently revealed that the UT President Powers and the way the contracts came into being are under investigation.
Michael Quinn Sullivan is the President of Empower Texans