IQSS FY14 FAS Budget Question responses

[In preparation for our annual budget meeting, IQSS has prepared the following responses to FAS' annual budget narrative questions.  Budget details have been omitted to respect individual and project confidentiality.  We welcome questions and comments.  Our budget meeting is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, January 23, 2013.]

Activities/Accomplishments in FY13
Describe progress against any recommendations from the FY13 Provost Office
Budget Review.  Outline progress against your FY13 plan. Are you still on target?  Explain and quantify the impact of any changes to plans presented in last year’s budget review.  

IQSS was not given any specific recommendations during our FY13 budget review.  We are on track with all of our planned core activities for FY13.  Specifics to note this year:  EdLabs has almost completed its transition to independent administration and will have done so by the end of June; this transition has been pursued with FAS for the past 4 years only to be realized now.  Our Research Technology Consultant (RTC) program completed its 18-month pilot period with successful results and reviews; Dean Smith has awarded the RTC an extension of funding through FY14.  Our participation in the Harvard Web Publishing Initiative (HWPI) and our collaboration with the Harvard Library are both now underway with implemented cross-unit integration.  And we are actively working with SEAS on automated cloud-computing processes, with alpha and beta stages set to be completed this fiscal year.

Strategic Direction/Priorities for FY14
Describe FY14 programmatic priorities and how you will achieve these. Describe the extent to which you are meeting interdisciplinary and interfaculty/aspirations/goals?  Describe your progress toward the goal of self-sustainability for interfaculty initiatives.  What new programs or initiatives are you planning to pursue?  What programs or initiatives, if any, are you planning to discontinue?

We plan to continue effective operation of our current programs, centers, and initiatives with few substantive changes.  To promote our interdisciplinary and interfaculty goals and in response to feedback from our External Review Committee report, this year we have increased outreach on collaboration opportunities with non-FAS schools; examples including HBS (OpenScholar use for cross-Tub initiatives), HKS (the future of the Harvard Decision Science Lab), GSE (OpenScholar school-level solution), SEAS (social science and computing services), and SPH (Dataverse use).   Similar opportunities exist within FAS and Central Administration also, such as a Fung Library reconfiguration, CWD training integration, and Provost Faculty Records Retention policy support.  As these conversations progress and if they show promise, any number of these opportunities could be actualized beginning in FY14.   In addition, as a research group dedicated to technology innovation, there is always the possibility of new product development.  We are not planning to discontinue any programs or initiatives in FY14.

IQSS does not have a goal of nor do we ever expect to achieve full self-sustainability with a portion of our mission and services integrated into University administration.  That said, IQSS has been identified as a prominent feature of the FY14 Capital Campaign for both the Provost's Office and FAS.  We have already begun work with University development staff to this end.  IQSS will also continue to pursue grant funding capable of providing subvention relief where appropriate; we were particularly successful in FY13 on this front, contributing significantly to our ability to present a flat FY14 budget.  

Describe any new challenges that you are or have been experiencing in carrying out the mission of your initiative, goals toward self-sustainability and what actions you might take to overcome these challenges.

Two of the challenges stated in our FY12 Budget Narrative two years ago - salary levels and space - are still primary concerns:

  • Salary levels. The University provides below-market salaries for software programmers and technology experts. While an understandable position in most non-profit contexts, for an Institute that relies on software developers, programmers, and technicians at the highest level possible in their area of expertise, these Harvard salaries and Grade levels are disadvantageous and cost IQSS valuable productivity and funds in the form of staff turnover and vacant positions.  We look to work with HR and Finance to reevaluate the categorization of some of our core technology positions and to work within existing HU processes to more accurately reflect the job requirements. 

  • Space. Our current physical space, while phenomenal, poses a challenge to the growth inherent in successful projects.  Our current "creative juggling" is an unsustainable plan. We are already doubling- and tripling-up in offices, and, where feasible, managing programs remotely.  To order to continue to operate successful initiatives and programs, and to accommodate an increased number of sponsored projects, IQSS needs a realistic plan for significant growth within a reasonable timeframe.   We would like to engage now in conversation about space opportunities several years out, be that Allston or elsewhere.

See also: Overview