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A Clean Sweep: Reviewing the Effectiveness of a Public University’s Facilities Operations

Case Study

A Clean Sweep: Reviewing the Effectiveness of a Public University’s Facilities Operations

Censeo performed a 10-week diagnostic of the Facilities Department at a public university to identify potential improvement opportunities, estimate benefits, and prioritize attention.


The client, a highly ranked public liberal arts college, was under pressure from the Board of Visitors and State legislature to improve its cost control. The urgency was enhanced by faculty, staff, students, and parents, who consistently questioned the institution’s commitment to cost efficiency. Seeking support in cutting costs while ensuring quality service, the university leadership team brought in Censeo to perform an analysis on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Facilities Department.

 “Censeo did a great job providing us with the information and insight we needed to show our board that we were controlling costs and finding ways to become more efficient”  -Vice President for Finance and Administration


Censeo conducted a rapid diagnostic of the Facilities Department using a combination of benchmarking, data analyses, and interviews and focus groups. Leveraging its experience in the higher education sector, Censeo:

  • Identified an initial list of areas for investigation;
  • Finalized the list of topic areas through working group discussions;
  • Assessed each topic area for performance and efficiency;
  • Identified specific high priority cost-cutting initiatives by evaluating the benefits and risks of each;
  • De-prioritized areas where the benefits of improvement were limited;
  • Documented areas where the college was performing at or above expectations; and
  • Worked with stakeholders to select the appropriate path forward, and developed implementation plans.


Eight primary topic areas were investigated across Facilities. Two areas, Groundskeeping and Motor Pool, were found to be high performing areas with respect to efficiency. The remaining six areas, Maintenance Teams, Event Support, Management Spans of Control, Work Order Processing, Energy Efficiency, and Custodial, had opportunities for improved performance as identified in the table below:


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Implementation of these recommendations resulted in $1.2 million in savings. By identifying these initiatives and demonstrating how to implement them, Censeo helped the university keep its key stakeholders happy while maintaining low costs.


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