Issue No. 7,
11 JULY 2000
REPORT OF 4 JULY 2000 REFORM PROCESS COMMITTEE (RPC) MEETING
A. Review and Approval of the 27 June 2000 RPC Report
Members reviewed and approved the draft report of the 27 June 2000 RPC which will incorporate comments and suggestions made at the meeting.
B. Matters Arising from the 27 June 2000 Meeting
Members were informed that Professor Prinya Nutalaya who retired from AIT as of 30 June 2000 was also the Royal Thai Government (RTG) Faculty Representative in AIT appointed by the Office of the National Education Commission (ONEC). The appointment of the new RTG Coordinator will be made by ONEC. This appointment is separate from the AIT internal working group on RTG matters set up by the President which is chaired by Professor Samorn Muttamara.
C. Progress on the Reform Implementation Committee Meetings
The Provost provided general information on the outcome of the following meetings of the Reform Implementation Committees.
1. Development and Promotion
The objective of the restructuring exercise is to look at both promotion and development aspects and to take on a more proactive role in the development of new initiatives to promote AIT. The functional sectors of development and promotion will comprise: a) governments (multilateral, bilateral and government institutions), b) host government (RTG and its government institutions); c) endowment fund, foundations, and alumni relations; d) educational institutions; and e) international organizations and NGOs, and f) the private sector. Certain development and promotion functions are best handled at the Institute level, particularly the coordination of support by donor governments and their institutions, of the host government and its institutions, of the AIT endowment fund, foundation, and alumni relations, and of partnerships with educational institutions, where two or more Schools are involved. Sponsored development projects supported by international organizations and NGOs as well as linkages with the private sector could be done at the School level. Scholarship management will be placed in the Office the Provost which will also take up part of admissions-related functions. The Reform Implementation Committee will prepare an Endowment Fund concept paper, which is expected to be finalized at the next meeting and will be made available to RPC members and to the AIT community. The strengthening of promotion and development related activities using the expertise of existing faculty are already ongoing. The initial meeting focused on the functional aspects of the restructuring. Discussions on the staffing pattern adjustments will continue. There will be some relocation of staff to other units within the Institute.
Comments from RPC Members
1. International Organizations such as the ADB are best handled at the Institute level.
2. There needs to be a mechanism in place for the proper channeling of information to the President from the functional sector comprising of governments, host government, endowment fund, foundations, and alumni relations. This matter will be taken up during the discussions on the staffing for the various functions.
Besides the Manager, the Purchasing Office has seven staff, including three purchasers and one administrative officer in charge of Institute travel. The travel function can outright be devolved to Schools, to make units accountable of all travel expenditures. It is also possible to devolve certain purchasing functions to Schools, contingent upon provision of an on-line access to materials specifications, vendors, etc., with the Purchasing Office still setting and maintaining the purchasing standards at the Institute-level. The cost to Central Funds can only be reduced gradually over the next five years by the mandatory retirement of personnel, or possibly, immediately, by amalgamating the functions of GRO and the outsourcing officer as proposed in the Action Plan. The Purchasing Manager has been requested to prepare a concept paper on outsourcing of services, and to study the feasibility of incorporating this function as well as that of GRO into the Purchasing Office, including an analysis of personnel and financial implications.
3. AIT Center
AIT Center as a unit will be restructured into distinct parts according to its various functions. At present, the AIT Center has a manpower of 71, distributed among catering (31); guest rooms, function rooms and conference facilities (32); swimming pool (3); technical support (3); and general administration (2).Catering, housekeeping and cleaning services can be outsourced. However, to ensure a satisfactory quality of service, Central Administration should maintain control of the guest rooms, making them part of the Institute's accommodation facilities, and the conference facilities as part of the Institute's teaching room facilities. The swimming pool would be part of the campus wide sports facilities. The opportunity to form entrepreneurial ventures among present AIT Center staff and run the catering, housekeeping and cleaning services, in addition to the offer of the early retirement scheme will be explored. The arcade outlets are already all outsourced except for the Printing Unit.
Comments from RPC Members
1. The details of the voluntary early retirement scheme and how AIT plans to assist in the start up of entrepreneurial ventures needs to be worked out. The discussions so far have addressed the principles. The details of the actual implementation of the schemes will be looked into by the Reform Steering Committee (RSC) which will convene its first meeting on 19 July 2000. A one-off voluntary early retirement scheme could be offered specifically for the purpose of the reform.
2. There was question as to what the shift in operations from a hotel like management to that of a unit with services which are in part internally managed and some which are outsourced entail for the AIT Center. It was pointed out that this exercise is a first meaningful step aimed at looking at all of the AIT Center activities and to reaffirm the position of AIT as a non-profit institution. It is not appropriate for AIT to conduct any operation other than graduate teaching and research in engineering and allied sciences for pecuniary purposes. AIT must not be seen to be operating any commercial ventures. As stated earlier, the outsourcing of the management and of some operations of the AIT Center and other units will not affect the current AIT Center staff, who will be maintained on AIT payroll unless they are rehired with similar benefits and privileges or choose to form their own commercial venture. The opening of the Science Park in the very near future along with the Japanese Study Center in Thammasat University are prospective additions to the catering clientele which could be outsourced together with that of the AIT Center.
D. Other Comments
1. Although units such as GRO, Medical Clinic and the AIT Golf Course do not come under the direct purview of the action plan, it is important that they also be reviewed as part and parcel of the reform process. The first round of consultations will soon be completed. The second round is expected to be completed by mid-August 2000 following which a progress report on the ongoing reform process outlining the proposed reorganization, manpower planning and financial implications could already be detailed out.
2. The President informed members that starting 4 July 2000, the Legal Advisor, Mr. Somchai Homlaor would be coming to AIT on a weekly basis. AIT community members are invited and can avail of this service through their representative on campus. Mr. Somchai will be posted at AIT every Tuesday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Room 206, Administration Building. Appointments can be arranged through the Office of the President by contacting Ms. Chadarat Nissaipan, at tel. extension 6001.
E. Next Meeting
The next meeting of RPC is scheduled for 11 July 2000 at 11:00 a.m. in the Board Room, Administration Building.