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Report rips UNM’s IT department, pushes for changes

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A report critical of the University of New Mexico’s main IT department has already cost one person his job, and more changes to the organization may be coming.

The 31-page report by Technology Integration Group found in the course of 30 interviews that included feedback from 300 employees that the department is broken.

“Everybody who attended the sessions was of the opinion that IT needs to change,” the report stated. “The current set up doesn’t work.” The criticisms included that employees on campus lack trust in the department. The department had lackluster leadership. And IT operated like an outside vendor rather than an internal resource. Many departments said they could get better and cheaper service from a different agency, say the campus library, rather than going to central IT.

The department’s oversight includes internet on campus and classroom technology, according to the department’s website, and it has about 170 employees.

Central IT is just one of many IT providers on campus. Departments and colleges also have IT services. The report recommended creating a centralized department under a strong leader to avoid duplication of services.

Duane Arruti, an IT administrator with 20 years at UNM, is serving as the interim CIO. He said he agreed that getting the IT providers on campus to work together would be valuable. And he also said that he has begun talking with IT providers on campus about how best to address the report’s recommendations.

“I think we have a lot of options as we look at our organization structure, and none of those things start with the word layoff,” Arruti said.

The university will provide additional information about the future of the department at a Sept. 22 town hall meeting.

The report also suggested that six help desks be consolidated to avoid frustrating users and to save resources. It also called for services like the systems used to track work flows to be simplified. And it called for outsourcing numerous services, including wireless internet on campus, digital security, help desks and printing services.

Arruti said he is not currently planning outsourcing anything, though some of the recommendations are reasonable to consider.

The report comes after executive vice president David Harris removed then-chief information technology officer Gil Gonzales from his position in August. Harris said the IT department was moving in a different direction and needed new leadership.

UNM administrator Kevin Stevenson confirmed that the report’s critique of IT’s leadership referred to when Gonzales was CIO.

But Gonzales challenged those characterizations. He said the decentralized nature of the IT departments on campus leads to competition between offices, which turn causes a lack of accountability and performance.

“We moved the organization forward in improving all the core services over the last 8 years,” Gonzales told the Journal on Friday.

Arruti defended Gonzales, saying he wouldn’t agree “with the generic description that he lacks leadership.”

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