California State University Benefits from Audit of its Systemwide Technology Project

State audit of project released with beneficial recommendations; CSU to continue with implementation to help students, faculty and staff

(March 11, 2003) The California State University system has received and supports the recommendations made in the Bureau of State Audits' review of the University's integrated software system known as the Common Management System (CMS) released today. The recommendations will help to improve the implementation at all remaining campuses of the new systems now in successful operation at more than half of the 23 CSU campuses.

At the request of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, the state auditors examined the CMS software system acquired by the CSU to help manage the complex multi-billion- dollar organization in the areas of human resources, financials and student administration. It is a systemwide project that brings benefits to students, faculty and staff as well as to campus and systemwide administration.

For instance, once the system is in place at all campuses, students will have easier access over the web to admissions and graduation information, class schedules, grades, and financial aid. Faculty and staff will have access to information over the web that will make it easier to advise students on classes and review student transcripts, as well as perform such work as processing personnel actions and departmental and budgetary transactions.

"The California State University views the recommendations of the state auditors as positive and helpful as we complete the implementation of the system on all campuses," said Richard West, executive vice chancellor and chief financial officer. "We have some disagreement regarding the auditors' determination of the cost, but more important, we remain on budget and on schedule with this project."

The CSU projected in 1999 that it would cost approximately $439 million to implement the system on all campuses. Now, with several years of experience, the projection has been slightly revised to $445 million. The auditors projected a $662 million total, but they included an average of $23 million per year of ongoing campus operational costs, which were not part of the one-time implementation costs the university associates with CMS, West said.

The CSU chose not to go to the Legislature seeking additional funds for the new system. Rather, Chancellor Charles B. Reed and the campus presidents carefully allocated existing funds and some new growth funds to make the one-time investment in the new systems. By taking this approach, the CSU was able to focus its state funding requests on instruction, faculty and staff compensation, and other academic areas.

Prior to the CMS project, the campuses had individual "legacy" systems in the areas of financials and student administration, but no system in human resources. The systems differed by campus, were antiquated, and often were not integrated. Moreover, many were obsolete and no longer serviced by vendors. They did not provide the level of service needed to run a system of the size and scope of the CSU with its 23 campuses, 407,000 students and 45,000 employees.

In 1999 the determination was made to develop an integrated system for all the campuses and the Chancellor's Office after reviewing the needs of the university. It was concluded that it was more cost-effective and beneficial to acquire and implement a new system common to all the campuses than to have a patchwork of outdated individual systems. The audit found that the CSU did not do a cost-benefit or feasibility study before proceeding. The CSU indeed had not done a formal analysis, but had collected extensive information from the campuses about their technology requirements. As a result of the audit, however, the CSU is now doing a two-phase cost-benefit analysis to confirm the current benefits of CMS and identify other potential benefits. The first phase of that analysis will be available later this month, and a more comprehensive report will be completed this year.

The CMS program uses PeopleSoft software. The hardware and operations for all the campus databases is managed by Unisys from a single data center. The CSU chose to use a single center rather than individual centers for each campus because it was more economical and provided contractual performance guarantees from an experienced service-provider.

The audit report's recommendations provide a template for enhancing and improving the remainder of the CMS implementation process over the next three years. Taken as a whole, the 30 recommended actions move the CSU even closer to the successful completion of this important project and the achievement of the planned benefits for students, faculty and staff.

The audit and its findings are available at To learn more about the CMS project, go to

The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, nearly 407,000 students and 45,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded more than 2 million degrees. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. Its mission is to provide high- quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. See

Contact: Colleen Bentley-Adler, (562) 951-4801,

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Last Updated: 11 March 2003

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