Already hit with a 5-percent budget cut this year and bracing for another 3-percent cut, Mississippi’s university system is putting together cost-cutting plans to increase efficiency, reports the Hattiesburg American. The state’s higher-education board has set up task forces, with representatives from its eight universities, to work on 12 efficiency measures. The measures include increasing energy efficiency and consolidating the purchase of services systemwide. The task forces presented their timelines to the college board in October. "In the past, our institutions have handled many standard, day-to-day operations individually. We are now asking institutions to think as a system, which we believe will help us realize some quick savings," said Institutions for Higher Learning Commissioner Hank Bounds. The 12 efficiencies fall broadly into two categories: consolidating purchasing to maximize leverage with vendors and reduce costs, and identifying best efficiency practices from each university that can act as a model throughout the system. For example, University of Southern Mississippi physical plant director Rusty Postlewate has gathered data on the school’s energy usage for the last five years as part of the energy efficiency task force. His findings will be compiled with that of seven other universities to become part of a systemwide data log…

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