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OU to issue requests for proposals for landscaping and custodial services, assess potential savings

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Garden (copy)

The South Oval as gardeners plant flowers June 18.

Two OU employees spoke to The Daily on the condition of anonymity to protect their current positions. The identities of these individuals are known to The Daily.

OU is assessing the costs of outsourcing landscaping and custodial services, and how to “(achieve) high performance at a reasonable cost.”

Two OU employees told The Daily that OU Facilities Management held a meeting June 13 in which Eric Conrad, OU’s chief operating officer, told staff that outsourcing options are being explored for departments within facilities management.

An official from OU Public Affairs told The Daily via email Thursday that requests for proposals will be issued for Norman campus landscaping and custodial services “to compare OU costs with similar services provided by area vendors.

“Our goal is to accurately assess our own costs of providing services to the university with an understanding of how others are costing similar work,” the official said in the email. “Once the RFP process is complete there will be an analysis and evaluation of options for achieving high performance at a reasonable cost. The plan is to complete that analysis before Jan. 1.”

News of the plan to assess costs of landscaping and custodial services comes one week after the university announced a 69-person reduction in force June 13. The university has reduced staff by 136 employees since July 2018.

The plan also comes after 25 people in the landscaping department were laid off during OU’s Nov. 1, 2018 layoffs.

An OU employee who was in the June 13 meeting said that staff was told the university would send out requests to outsource landscaping in July and would likely hear back by November.

“If it’s only a small savings, they might keep us around,” the employee said. “But if it’s a big savings they might totally outsource it, is what they were telling us.”

The employees also said that landscaping and custodial services had held individual meetings after they were told of the coming cost assessment.

“Morale is very low at this time,” the staff member said. “Everybody expects to lose their jobs … the people with kids, they’re going to be hurting if they go a few months without a job while they’re looking. And quite a few people are looking right now.”

Scott Kirker is a letters and Spanish senior and summer editor-in-chief of The Daily. Previously he worked as a news reporter covering research and administrative searches.

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