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Trimming USNH: Right is better than rushed

January 26. 2012 9:22PM

In their effort to improve the management of the University System of New Hampshire, House members should proceed with care.

House Bill 1692 would eliminate the office of the university system chancellor. It is unclear why New Hampshire needs one anyway. The bill also cuts the system's breaucracy, which ought to be a long-term goal. Slashing it from 71 employees to 12 by the end of June, though, might not be the best way to go.

Would that end up creating more bureaucracy at the individual campuses? System trustees say it would, and it appears that they have a case. Their concerns need to be considered seriously before this bill makes it out of the House. It doesn't do much good if legislators shift the bureaucracy around rather than cut out the fat.

Ed Dupont, chairman of the USNH Board of Trustees, is no enemy of reform. Under his leadership, the board wants to trim the central bureaucracy, cut costs and make the individual institutions more autonomous. House Speaker Bill O'Brien, who is a co-sponsor of this bill, is understandably concerned about timing. Getting changes through before the end of this fiscal year (June 30th) would allow the state to enjoy the savings in the next budget.

That is a valid concern. Getting this reform right, though, is just as important. If it is done badly, it gives opponents of reform an excuse to undo everything next year.

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