FY2011 General Report - Governance & Administrative Transparency and Efficiency

1. Basic structures for governance and business operations

(1) BOG and BOC

The BOG and BOC meetings were held as follows:

  • [BOG meetings] 1st: November 18, 2011, 2nd: February 23, 2012
  • [BOC meetings] 1st: November 17, 2011, 2nd: February 9, 2012

A draft of FY2012 Business Plan was submitted to and reviewed by Councilors at 2nd meeting on February 9, 2012. The recommendations made by Councilors were incorporated into the plan, which was approved by the BOG. In addition to the annual plan, the medium-term strategies of OIST to broaden its financial basis and to contribute to Okinawa were explained by President Dorfan at the 2nd BOG meeting as one of the main agenda items.

Subcommittees were established both in BOG and BOC to ensure effectiveness of their functions and put them into operation. (Subcommittees of the BOG: Steering, Business and Finance, Research and Academics, Audit and Compliance, and (Ad-hoc) Community Relations. Subcommittees of the BOC: University Management, Budget and Finance, Academics and Research and Sustainable Development for Okinawa.) These subcommittees are to be convened as necessary.

(2) Auditors

Auditors participated in a weekly meeting with the VPAC division and had a meeting with VPAC, CEO or/and Provost as needed.

Auditors received a firsthand briefing about each section from the section leaders.

Auditors audited on FY2011 accounting settlement of OIST PC and reported to the CEO in January.

The first periodical audit on OIST SC was conducted from April 23 to 26. The focus was on the establishment status of all the rules and policies that constituted the foundation for the school operation and on the condition of providing educational trainings.  Implementation of a systematic division of duties, the status on the delegation of authority, and the system to interactively check were the focus of the audit. The progress on the 2011 Business Plan was inspected as well.

The report by the Auditors on the outcome of their audit was submitted to the BOG and the BOC in May.

(3) Organization

The former Academic Affairs office was transformed into an organization tailored to a Graduate School. The VP is the Dean of the Graduate University, and there are three sections reporting to the Dean: The Student Support Section, The Administrative Support Section and the Academic Services Section. Within this framework, the student recruitment function was entirely restructured by adding personnel and aligning the job descriptions to the tasks at hand. The powerful Embark system was out in place that allows the recruitment and evaluation to be done entirely electronically.

The research support section was entirely transformed and put under the Vice Provost for Research. The research support section, formerly just for biology, was expanded with sections for physics support and marine science support.  Experienced personnel have been added.

An office of sponsored research was established. IT was reorganized so as to recognize the differences in institutional, business and scientific computing.  The position of the Chief Information Officer, reporting to the President was established.

The organization chart was simplified and a clear relationship was established between management and accountability.  Spending authority was formalized with a set of written designations signed by the authorizer and the authorizee.  The job descriptions for the Executive members were spelled out in the PRP.

A new Assistant to the President and staff were brought into the President’s Office specifically to administer the Business Planning process and to coordinate a range of administrative issues of importance to the strategic functions of the President’s Office.

A meeting of the Executive of the University was held weekly. This meeting forms the top of a pyramid of meetings which transfer the information down through the organization. In addition, daily meetings of members of the Executive (often with staff) are held. All hands meetings were held regularly: examples are the one to discuss the FY2012 budget and the PRP launch.

Through close communication and coordination with CAO, OIST made a monthly report of the budget execution to CAO and held the first quarterly meeting.

  • Monthly Report of The Budget Execution: 4 reports were made during the period from November 2011 to February 2012.
  • 1st Quarterly Meeting took place on January 24, 2012, 13:30 - 16:00, at the CAO Office.

 Budget Allocation and Execution

Budgetary units consistent with the organizational structure of the university were established and the necessary budget allocation to implement the Business Plan to each budgetary unit were made on that basis.

The organizational system (ERP core system) was established to enable the division heads and section heads to monitor their budget execution status. The status of budget execution is reported monthly to the President/CEO at the monthly Budget Review Meeting in order to ensure appropriate and integrated budget management including the Subsidy for Facilities. In addition, the budget execution status report was made to the CAO on a monthly basis.

Management of competitive research funds including Kakenhi (Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research) were made in accordance with the rules provided to each grant.

OIST established a system for the Vice President for Administrative Compliance to review all small-amount negotiated contracts exceeding 1.6 million yen and tendering items exceeding 50 million yen, as well as matters concerning the establishing and revision of University regulations and rules.

During FY2011, OIST conducted an internal audit to review the expenses for conference and honoraria as well as tendering items, then reflect the results into our related rules and manuals.

On developing human resources, we sent our staff from the Finance Division to the accounting training course provided by the University of the Ryukyus to gain basic accounting knowledge.

To ensure proper and efficient implementation of tendering and contracts, OIST established the Contract Review Committee consisting of external experts to review of contracts at the University. The first committee meeting was held on March 23, 2012.  OIST also established the Specification Formulation Committee consisting of external experts to review specifications of large research tools/equipment for each purchase exceeding 50 million yen.

3. Efficiency of Business Operations

(1) Appropriate and Efficient Budget Execution

OIST reduced costs for the sequencing reagents, international travel tickets, copy-machine performance charges and translation fee based on a purchasing forecast. One result of this effort ended in 30% cost reduction on the sequencing reagents. Also, OIST began an attempt to import research equipment from overseas vendors within the range of negotiated contracts.

Ratio of purchase contracts (number of contracts and amount)

  JPY Transactions
Negotiated Contracts 12.00% 20.10%
Competitive 88.00% 79.90%

For the purpose of improvement of convenience for researchers and administrative staff, we launched handling of stationary provided by the selected vendor in the OIST Supply Center.

  Increase of use of the internal supply store

  Average Sales per month Increase % Average transactions per month Increase %
FY2010 261,451 - 26 -
FY2011 599,297 129% 53 103%

As for the contracts of the University, OIST developed and introduced the procurement policies, rules and procedures in light of the procurement regulations of national universities and overseas in order to conduct efficient and prompt procurement as an international research institution.

The travel desk function was transferred to Budget and Accounting Section and by allocating two new staff members and putting focuses on PRP and ERP development.

The ERP system was implemented across all finance and administrative processes, allowing budget managers at all levels an on-line access to the budget execution status of their unit/section.

(2) Effective Use of Assets

Taking into account completion of Lab on the Onna Campus, OIST gradually relocated facilities still housed in Uruma City to the main campus, and realized cost savings from the cancellation of the rental agreements for the facilities there. As overall campus activities increase, an increased demand for the workshop and accommodation facilities is expected at the Seaside House. Therefore, those units currently located at the Seaside House will be moved to Lab 2, freeing up extra guest rooms for workshop attendees.

4. Personnel Management

(1) Recruitment

The legal counsel position was fulfilled by an experienced professor of law from Keio University who is very familiar with Japan academic system and intercultural academic environment. The CIO responsibility was fulfilled by the Scientific Senior Manager who reports directly to the President for this responsibility, and the Fund Raising Officer's responsibility and profile was incorporated into a fund raising strategic plan. 

  • Ratio of staff in the administration to the total headcounts: 35.8%
  • Ratio of labor costs to the total operational budget: 31.12%

The expansion of University function and size required creation of new sections and reinforcement of others. All new positions were first advertised internally to give opportunities for internal mobility and allow for internal structural adjustments. Temporary peak in activity was managed through hiring under fixed term contracts and if possible through temporary staff reallocation.

Diversity at the workplace and the gender balance have been respected and promoted at OIST in line with the relevant PRPs; Chapter 1 Who We Are:1.3 Core Values, 1.3.2 Respectful Workplace, Chapter 3 Faculty Handbook:3.2.4 Recruitment, Appointment, Promotion, Evaluation and Retirement of Faculty, and Chapter 31 Recruitment & Hiring: 31.1 Policy.

Number of employees
  Country Admin. Reseach unit Total
1 Ireland   2 2
2 USA 7 7 14
3 Argentina   1 1
4 Armenia   1 1
5 UK 2 11 13
6 Israel   1 1
7 Italy   3 3
8 Iran 1   1
9 India   10 10
10 Australia 2 4 6
11 Austria   1 1
12 Costa Rica   1 1
13 Sweden   3 3
14 Thailand   1 1
15 Czech   1 1
16 Germany 2 5 7
17 New Zealand 1 3 4
18 Pakistan   1 1
19 Palestine   1 1
20 Bangladesh 1 1 2
21 Finland 1   1
22 France 1 8 9
23 Bulgaria   2 2
24 Belarus   1 1
25 Belqium   1 1
26 Poland 1 1 2
27 Malaysia   1 1
28 Mexico   5 5
29 Romania   1 1
30 Russia   6 6
31 Korea   3 3
32 Hong Kong   2 2
33 Chine 1 8 9
34 Japan 113 141 254
  Total 133 238 371

(2) Compensation

The salary compensation was analyzed and restructured into several annual base salary ranges based upon job and qualification categories for all regular employees including Professors, both permanent and fixed-term.

A review of pension systems and retirement benefits was carried out to compare the situation in Japan with that prevailing in other international institutions.

(3) Training and Evaluation

Recognizing the importance of bilingual communication and cultural understanding in  English and Japanese, two professional language teachers were recruited as staff employees to replace outside vendors. Language training was transferred to the PR division as part of the Language Section.

A survey of the training needs was carried out by an expert who interviewed 24 managers of both administration and research. This survey was presented to the executive members for discussion before becoming a basis for FY12 training plans and programs.

The performance evaluation process was institutionalized and practiced by all OIST organization according to a steady and coordinated planning. The bilingual web application supporting this process worked well. The results of these evaluations were used as a basis for career evolution and adjustment of compensation.

(4) Developing the Community of the University

Information on new personnel is shared with the OIST Welcome Club that provides support to the new comers' families, help for settlement in Okinawa as well as activities facilitating integration. The Communication and PR Division also organized events open to all staff and their families and a new Internal website was being developed to further facilitate communication across the OIST community.

5. Compliance

Following the appointment of the Vice President for Administrative Compliance (with laws, regulations and internal policies, rules and procedures), a staff member to work on compliance matters under the Vice President was appointed. The Vice President for Administrative Compliance reviewed all tendering items exceeding 50 million yen and small-amount negotiated contracts exceeding 1.6 million yen, as well as matters concerning establishing and revising University regulations and rules.

Based on the Act concerning the Management of Public Documents (Act No. 66 of 2009), we developed Policies, Rules, and Procedures (PRP) to ensure appropriate creation, management and retention of the documents. We also appointed staff in charge of managing the documents.

A new division of compliance (Division of Administrative Compliance) carried out internal audits to review honorarium, conference and travel expenses as well as annual maintenance agreements and reflect the results as necessary. Audits by Auditors have been conducted since mid-April and the results will be reported to BOG/BOC on May 24.

In the new Policy Library, rules on research ethics and investigation of academic misconduct (Chapter 4), conflict of interest (Chapter 22), management of fund (Chapter 7), and discipline (Chapter 38) were established.

6. Information Disclosure and Public Relations

Regulations required to be disclosed by the law, such as Bylaws, University Rules, Business Plan (FY2011 & FY2012), and Officer Compensation Regulations, were uploaded on the Website. Preparations for information disclosure of procedure for disclosure request & information on Corporate Documents were made.

OIST has had excellent coverage in International, Japanese and Okinawan media. The most influential science publications Nature Science Physics Today carried positive articles on OIST. Nature in particular wrote an editorial in support of the university. The Economist is probably the most influential news magazine in the world and OIST was featured in November 2011. Coverage in Japan's main newspapers has not been so outstanding but this trend is changing as can be seen by the article in Nikkei Shimbun in February and the 5 page article in Nikkei Science in March 2012. Coverage of OIST developments in Okinawa has been excellent and consistently positive. OIST has completely redesigned its public website updating articles on a daily basis so as to keep the general public in Japan and around the world informed. A Facebook site and a YouTube channel have also been created.

OIST created a completely new branding style with new logo and full graphics standards manual. The design has been much admired and is now used uniformly throughout the university.