Columbia, MO Columns and Jesse Hall

Feb. 4, 2005

MOREnet Council Meeting Minutes

Council members in attendance: Sara Parker, Cheryl Bielema, Annie Busch, Ralph Caruso, Susan Cole, Margaret Conroy, Robert Stein, Donald Doucette, Curt Fuchs, Jeanie Gordon, Bill Mitchell, Dan Ross

Guests present: Dave Byland, Chip Byers, Bill Giddings, Holly Fine, Deborah Sutton, Barbara Reading, Monica Beglau, Tom Stokes, James Tice, Debbie Rodman, Nathaniel Albers

The MOREnet Council met on Feb. 4, 2005, in the Governor Office Building, Jefferson City, MO.

Sara Parker called the meeting to order.

Parker introduced Dan Ross, Chief Information Officer (CIO), who spoke on the customer focus of the Office of Administration. He informed the Council the Governor's budget moves information technology appropriation authority for spending and assignment of personnel to the CIO. He identified two immediate challenges: to make consolidations within state government including e-mail, the state owned networks, and telephone services. His intent is for the agencies to get the support they need with no degradation of service.

Ross said he had spoken with the Governor about the twenty percent reduction to MOREnet. He encouraged working on a letter to the Governor about the impact and effect of the cut and also for MOREnet to examine the products and services in relation to participation and usage. He encouraged showing the impact to customers. He also indicated the need to act quickly.

Ross said work was going forward to acquire a new search engine for the state government portal.

Holly Fine spoke to the FY05 mid-year projections using Attachment 1 and answered questions. The e-rate has been taken out of the projections as there are no commitment letters yet. E-rate funds can not be entered into the accounting system until the award level has been received.

Questions were asked about the $465,000 for three projects as per Attachment 1. Parker asked if this could be identified as part of a reduction. Mitchell responded this was done in response to a request for information about outcomes. Mitchell also agreed to provide a breakout for the Council on the three projects and the cost of each.

Robert Stein spoke to the FY06 budget recommendations in House Bill 3. The funding for public colleges and universities is at the current level. In addition to the $2.9 million dollar reduction to MOREnet, the Department of Higher Education is targeted for a forty percent reduction and anticipates additional twenty percent withholding starting July 1, 2006 in addition to the normal three percent withholding. Stein acknowledged that there was a great deal of speculation about reorganization of state government and what implications this would have for the Department of Higher Education. He shared that the new Commissioner is working with the Governor and his staff. Under the leadership of the new Commissioner, Department of Higher Education staff is in the process of analyzing the current work load relative to statutory responsibilities, mandates, benefits, and projected resources of the department.

Susan Cole spoke to the recommendations in House Bill 2. She said most programs are funded at current level, but the department is currently under a hiring freeze and it will be difficult to get work done.

Parker speaking on House Bill 12 said the Secretary of State's Office is funded at current level with an additional recommendation of $600,000 from the Out of State Athletes and Entertainers' Tax to distribute to public libraries for books and materials.

Margaret Conroy told of Secretary Carnahan's presentation to the House Committee which also included references to the MOREnet reduction in House Bill 3. Carnahan asked for restoration and said MOREnet was a success story.

The House Appropriations Committee for General Administration wants to see usage amounts for all the clients served by MOREnet.

Bill Mitchell discussed the advocacy efforts as listed under Tab 4. He spoke with Dan Ross after the Governor's State of the State speech and also sent a letter to Commissioner Keathley. This letter will be distributed to the Council. He and others attended the Missouri Library Association's Legislative Day and made personal visits as follow up. Mitchell will begin weekly updates of legislative contacts to the Council.

Parker asked about the advocacy efforts from schools and academic institutions. Mitchell is trying to get on the agenda for the Missouri Community College Association. He also hopes there will be a meeting of lobbyists of all the academic institutions and is sending information to MERC members.

Cole remarked on the difficulties of getting Superintendents to focus on issues beyond the foundation formula and No Child Left Behind.

Mitchell presented two handouts related to impact of the reduction. These were in draft form and not for distribution. Council discussion followed including whether or not there should be an option number 5 on raising private funds.

Council discussion included whether or not customers should be involved in decisions about the options. Members asked what is necessary to do today. Some members of the Council felt decisions should not be made today.

It was recommended by Ralph Caruso that the Council could advise on a strategy which would include raising $1,000,000 in additional fees to users; taking $500,000 from the MOREnet reserves; $400,000 in reduction of costs within MOREnet's expenditures, and a plea to the Governor to restore $1,000,000. After discussion, the Council consensus was to advise MOREnet to adopt this as strategy.

Stein stressed that whatever strategies MOREnet anticpates using should be coordinated with Joe Martin, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Higher Education and Greg Fitch, Commissioner of Higher Education, especially since MOREnet's budget is contained in HB 3. Stein referenced previous challenges experienced prior to the New Year concerning proposed actions between MOREnet and Governor's office staff and emphasized the importance of ensuring that MOREnet would not be operating independently of the department.

Dave Byland presented information on the size appropriate connection policy recommendation for public higher education (Attachment 7), the revised logo, and public brochures (Attachment 8 and Attachment 9).

Mitchell spoke to the external performance measures project update (Attachment 10) and Vangel Customer Satisfaction Project, phase 2 update (Attachment 11).

Jim Tice described distance learning initiatives. He said there is a series of legislative round tables this week. He is having discussions with Representative Cunningham about demonstrating distance learning potential.

Before the next meeting, Council members should send Parker their list of alternates for Council representation.

Parker announced Susan Cole is receiving a Governor's Arts Award for Art Education. Conroy announced the Missouri River Regional Library will be the second library to join MOBIUS.

The next Council meeting will be April 1, 2005.

Meeting was adjourned.