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Information Technology Committee

Meeting Dates
The full Information Technology (IT) Committee met six times during the 2006-07 year. The dates and locations of the meetings are listed below.
September 11, 2006-FAC 228D
October 23, 2006-FAC 228D
November 13, 2006-FAC 228D
December 11, 2006-FAC 228D
February 12, 2007-FAC 228D
April 2, 2007-FAC 228D

Summary of Meeting Agendas
September Meeting

This was a convening and planning meeting to determine an appropriate agenda.

October Meeting
Brian Roberts gave an overview of the IT operation at UT Austin focusing on how things are currently run and some of the proposed changes that would be taking place at ITS.

November Meeting
The meeting was hosted by Jim Bruce of MOR Associates, a consulting firm hired by ITS to assist in determining an appropriate model for ITS governance and management, and consisted of a discussion of our impressions of the IT operation.

December Meeting
An overview of Business Procedures Memorandums (BPM) 75-Protecting the Confidentiality and Integrity of Digital Research Data that was finalized by UT System in April 2006 was given. The implementation of this BPM (which is in the process of being consolidated with other BPMs and will eventually be renamed) is currently being discussed by the Office of the Vice President for Research at UT Austin and will likely be implemented in 2007. Amongst its mandates is one that requires that certain types of sensitive data be secured and backed up. Such data might include data that contains personably identifiable information or research data that if it were lost might place the PI or UT at risk. There will likely be two classes of secure data: Category 1: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and other security-sensitive data and Category 2: Individual research data that is not sensitive but must be secured to protect the integrity of the research.

In anticipation of this, Randy Standridge and Garry Sitz from ITS came to speak to us about how ITS might develop an implementation that would satisfy this BPM and the needs of faculty, students, and staff in this regard. What followed was a discussion of potential solutions to the problem of how to provide such a service to students, staff, and faculty and what preferences they would have for the service.

February Meeting
Brian Roberts gave an overview assummarized at his Web site of the organizational changes being implemented at ITS.

Three associate vice presidents have been appointed that will report directly to Brian with the goal of improving transparency and efficiency. These positions include the following:
  • Associate vice president of operations will be held by Ron Williams. This position oversees all of the major technical functions of ITS, including networking, applications, data center and systems.
  • Associate vice president for business services will be held by LB Brady. Brady was previously director of administration. Brady will oversee two main functional areas: the business office and a new initiative for ITS, the projects office. The business office includes such entities as accounting and sales, ITS human resources, purchasing, contracts, and the Campus Computer Store.
  • A third associate vice president for customer services has yet to be named. An open search is underway to identify the best candidate possible. This position will lead such ITS groups as the Help Desk, User Services and the newly created education and development office. The education and development office is designed to build on the strong history of the current analyst-training program and provide life-long technical learning opportunities for IT staff throughout campus.
There were many questions about the rationale for specific changes. Brian announced that changes are underway to the UT Web site, but a launch date has not yet been announced; this may be the subject of a future meeting. Brian also said that he expects to announce changes to the IT faculty governance structure in a matter of weeks.

April Meeting
The first item of business was a proposal by Desiderio Kovar to recommend to the Committee on Committees two of changes to the IT Committee’s composition statement for the 2007-08 changes. These changes include:
a) Reduce the number of members of the general faculty to five (from eight); reduce the number of student members by one (from four) by eliminating the second Graduate Student Assembly representative.
b) Specify that at least two of the staff member representatives (out of the four) NOT be in employed in IT-related areas.

COMPOSITION: [Eight] Five members of the General Faculty, four staff members, and [four] three students. Staff members shall be appointed to two-year rotating terms by the president, from a panel of names submitted by the Staff Council. At least two of the staff member representatives shall not be employed in IT-related areas. One student member shall be appointed to a one-year term by the president in the fall from a panel of names submitted by each of the Student Government and the student senate, and [two] one member[s] shall be appointed to a one-year term[s] by the president from a panel of names submitted by the Graduate Student Assembly. In addition, every year the chair of the Faculty Council shall appoint two members of the Faculty Council for one-year terms as members of the committee. The committee shall elect its own chair and vice chair, who shall be members of the General Faculty. The vice-president for information technology shall serve as an ex-officio member without vote. A representative from each of the following shall be selected by the president to serve as an administrative adviser without vote: the division of innovative instruction and assessment, the college and school technology coordinators, financial affairs, department chairs.

a) We feel that this committee is too big to function properly and the large size makes it nearly impossible to find a time where even two-thirds of the members can attend. The proposed reduction, in our opinion still allows for ample representation from across campus but may make scheduling and discussion easier.
b) The vast majority of the staff who have been appointed the last two years work directly in IT or IT-related areas. While these staff are certainly enthusiastic and helpful to the committee, if all or nearly all of the staff positions are filled by IT-related staff it leaves a much larger segment of the staff community unrepresented.

After some clarifications about the reason for the proposed changes and some discussion, the committee voted to approve this recommendation. The recommendation was forwarded to the Committee on Committees and, following its approval, was presented to the Faculty Council in April and was approved by the Faculty Council on May 16, 2007.

For the remainder of the meeting, Mark McFarlane from University Libraries gave an overview of IT-related issues at University Libraries. Mark discussed the scope of the digital libraries project and gave descriptions of the various services that are supported under this project.

An area where collaboration between libraries and the IT committee is information archiving. Currently there are no policies for 1) using addresses 2) handling existing digital archives (administered by UT Libraries or others) should a faculty member that currently oversees it leaves the University. Next year we may look into these issues further.

Desiderio Kovar, chair