Archive for Monday, August 29, 2011

Outside help

While consultants can be of use, expertise can also come from within.

August 29, 2011


Over the years Lawrence, Douglas County and Kansas University officials, as well as Lawrence school board members, frequently have asked “outside” consultants to study local situations and come back with recommendations or solutions.

Sometimes, the issues may require “expertise” in specific matters while other times using outsiders may be a way for local officials to avoid being saddled with unpopular actions, or actions that would test friendships.

Sometimes, “outsiders” are local citizens who are not members of the body searching for advice while in other situations “outsiders” are out-of-town firms or individuals who charge fees for their services.

School board members are studying the possibility of asking for “community input,” to advise them on how best to prioritize up to $10 million in repair, renovation and reconstruction projects tied in with the districts’ upgrading of elementary schools.

Perhaps local residents are the best to provide advice or maybe professional help would be money spent wisely.

Last year KU officials signed a $2 million-plus contract with a company named Huron to tell Mount Oread staffers how to operate the university more efficiently and save millions of dollars. Huron is a fine company with an excellent record.

However, whether with the Huron project, or many projects the city farms out to “outside” firms or a school district project, do local officials consider asking Kansas University faculty members for advice? Does the university offer consulting services for Lawrence or other cities?

Maybe Huron was selected as it would be difficult for a KU group to recommend major operational cuts which would impact on friendships or acquaintances.

The university has numerous faculty members who teach others how to excel in their various fields such as business, engineering, architecture and education.

Why not use these talents for studies on how best to prioritize, schedule and spend millions of dollars to upgrade elementary school buildings or how to operate the university in a more efficient manner or many other worthy studies, which have been awarded to “outside” experts?

The university certainly has its share of experts in many fields.


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