MIT Reports to the President 1998-99
Information Systems (IS) supports MIT's core missions of education, research, and service by working in partnership with its faculty, students, and staff to wisely and creatively apply information technology to reach their goals. IS strives to be MIT's information technology services partner of choice, delivering quality products, support, and services that are customer-focused and add value to the MIT community. To achieve this vision, IS people must be leaders and technical innovators, continuously gauging their work against customer needs, expectations, and wants, as well as higher education and industry trends. IS's ultimate success, and therefore the success of its people, is dependent upon customer satisfaction.
During fiscal 1999, IS staff achieved an impressive range of accomplishments, some of which are highlighted in the reports which follow. Throughout IS, we organize our work around three explicit elements: IS's customers, its work, and the skills of its staff.
Leaders of I/T Practices advocate both on behalf of customers to IS, and on behalf of IS to customers. The Practice directors promote and enable technology-based work at MIT. They assist the Institute community in identifying information technology needs, as well as opportunities to use technology in education, research, and administration. The Practices also assist in planning for the effective use of I/T resources. Of particular note during the past year is Academic Computing's continued support for departmental educational computing and its increasing engagement in strategic Institute-wide initiatives, such as I-Campus (MIT's collaboration with Microsoft) and the SingaporeMIT Alliance; Office Computing's work to support administrative computing throughout the Institute while promoting standards; and the Voice, Data, and Image Networking Practice's sponsorship of a thorough review of telephone and network rates.
As a process-centered organization, the work of developing and operating I/T products and services is the responsibility of five I/T ProcessesDiscovery, Delivery, Service, Support, and Integration. Highlights of our work include the delivery of an important set of web-based applications, the operation of a growing set of services and servers, and support of a larger, more sophisticated community of I/T customers. Use of MIT's I/T resources continues to grow as the I/T infrastructure is improved and expanded. In 1999, the MIT community came to IS with some 100,000 requests for help and service changes, ranging from upgrading telephone service to installing a new office computing environment to assisting faculty in using computers in their teaching.
The I/T Competency Group concentrates on the skills dimension of Information Systems, working to provide a staff well-qualified to meet future work requirements. Of particular note is work to ensure staff retention by addressing salary parity issues and offering a growing selection of workshops that inform and develop staff.
More information about Information Systems and its work may be found on the World Wide Web at http://web.mit.edu/is/.
James D. Bruce
The Academic Computing Practice, collaborating with I/T Process teams and in partnership with academic departments, provides widely distributed client-server computing designed to facilitate undergraduate education. This occurs primarily through the Athena Computing Environment, which is used by thousands of faculty, students, and staff each day, with over 10,000 different "logins" on peak days. Academic Computing also provides advocacy, training, documentation, and consulting services to support academic work. During fiscal year 1999, Academic Computing has accomplished the following goals.
The Academic Computing Practice continued its annual renewal of Athena equipment, purchasing workstations and peripherals to replace older equipment and to expand its facilities. Some 350 Sun and SGI workstations were placed in Athena and departmental clusters and on faculty desktops. In collaboration with the Office of Residential Life, small Athena clusters were installed as an experiment in McCormick and Burton-Conner Houses, and Quickstations were installed in 13 additional residence halls. By all accounts, this experiment was successful. Plans are underway to extend this experiment to additional dormitories in the coming year. In addition, several New Media Facilities were commissioned: a faculty project lab, a satellite facility for the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, and a classroom/cluster.
Several efforts are underway to systematically evaluate and incorporate new infrastructure components (e.g., operating systems, network) to respond to market forces and support new educational functionalities. These include: Project Pismere, focusing on the scaleable deployment of Microsoft Windows 2000; a Linux Discovery effort, focusing on the delivery of a "public cluster" version of Athena on the Linux operating system, which will permit IS to deploy this increasingly popular operating system; and network upgrades to support high-bandwidth, low-latency applications.
Academic Computing also provided technical and financial support to enable the development of new instructional materials and methods. Among the activities supported were the rewriting of 6.003 (Signals and Systems) software; implementation of graphical information system (GIS) software for the Department of Urban Studies and Planning; support for the continuing development of Berliner Sehen, a multimedia application for German language learning; design assistance for a tutorial on DNA analysis; and support for "Cybertutor," software for self-paced learning of classical mechanics concepts. The Academic Computing Practice is also developing the capacity to assist faculty in two high-priority areasweb-based environments and spatial data/visualization applications.
Academic Computing forums over the past year provided the opportunity to understand the influence of technology on education at MIT and elsewhere, and suggested ways to assess our progress. Of particular note was the Athena Retrospective held to celebrate 15 years of Athena. Many Project Athena alumni, in addition to members of the MIT community, were in attendance. Panel presentations and discussions illuminated the enabling influence of MIT's distributed computing environment, Athena, in transforming the overall educational experience at MIT. Examples included: making mathematics transparent in Chemistry learning; the use of large, rich data sets in Urban Studies; and increased peer collaboration and access to professional tools. Academic Computing forums reaffirmed the fact that successful delivery of high-performance educational applications requires systemic planning and an enterprise orientation.
The Academic Computing Practice also participated in facilitating several new strategic initiatives for MIT education. As part of a high-level MIT team, Academic Computing staff helped to develop the proposal for a strategic alliance with Microsoft. They were planned and provided IS services for the MITSingapore Alliance (SMA). The Educational Media Content Center (EMCC), which was formed through Academic Computing's collaboration with the Center for Advanced Educational Services (CAES), will be the primary resource for developing web-based applications for the SMA. The Academic Computing Practice also promoted information sharing and support for Internet2 applications.
M. S. Vijay Kumar
The Office Computing Practice seeks to maximize the value that administrative computing customers and providers obtain from MIT's information technology (I/T) resources. To assist MIT in achieving its mission, the Office Computing Practice uses partnerships with administrative departments and collaborations with I/T teams to build constructive relationships with organizational units to assist MIT in achieving its mission. The work of this Practice relies on a current understanding of office computing needs, opportunities, and priorities. This understanding is essential to discovering, implementing, and supporting the best applications of information technology in the MIT administrative computing environment.
In keeping with its core mission, the Office Computing Practice promotes standards for hardware and software platforms. These standards are predicated on the interoperability of applications with MIT's I/T infrastructure. In today's I/T marketplace, it is a difficult challenge to find the right balance between personal and institutional value while meeting the security and reliability requirements of a world-class university.
One aspect of the Office Computing Practice's work that actively assists departments as they evolve their use of I/T is replacing their hardware and software environments. In fiscal year 1999, this Practice sponsored MIT-wide projects to identify requirements and upgrade older I/T systems in a number of areas, including: the Office of the Dean of Student and Undergraduate Education (ODSUE), the Controller's Accounting Office (CAO), the Office of Budget and Financial Planning (OBFP), the Procurement Office, the Audit Division, and the Property Office, as well as in the Schools of Humanities and Social Science, Engineering, Science, and Architecture and Planning.
To keep pace with the changing landscape of technology, the Office Computing Practice led efforts to migrate Institute users away from the use of legacy operating systems and applications, such as Windows 3.1 and Techmail-S (MIT's original remote-access electronic mail application). Both of these projects resulted in improved reliability and functionality for both on- and off-campus users.
The Office Computing Practice continued its work to shape the vision and direction of information technology at MIT by participating in the development of the Information Systems Strategic Plan. As result of this planning effort, the Practice assumed responsibility for the implementation of two strategic initiatives: the development of a standard and functional software release process, and the implementation of Institute-wide broadcast notification tools.
The Office Computing Practice also assumed a significant role in MIT's effort to ensure planning and responses related to the Year 2000 problem. To coordinate MIT's approach to the calendar Y2K transition, a dedicated Delivery team sponsored by the Office Computing Practice has been at work for several months. The team published a web report on the Y2K readiness of over 200 MIT systems, hired a consultant (TAVA) to survey the embedded processors throughout the campus, conducted dozens of classes and seminars, and also provided a steady stream of information on Y2K subjects for the MIT community. The team also worked with the Business Continuity Management Team to ensure adequate contingency plans are in place for New Year's weekend.
Because MIT is an educational and research institution with a tradition of openness, it is especially difficult to ensure information security. Most traditional security methods conflict with MIT's mission. To provide MIT with the best enterprise-wide security solutions, the Office Computing Practice partners with internet security experts to promote the continued evolution of Kerberos (which has been designed and implemented at MIT) and X.509 certificates for web-based applications.
The Office Computing Practice performs its work through active partnerships. Partnerships between customers and providers of I/T are essential in the rapidly changing world of information technology. Continued support of the I/T Partners group, the Business Liaison Team, the MIT Professional Learning Center, and the myriad I/T teams and users throughout the Institute fosters a collaborative, productive environment.
Theresa M. Regan
The mission of the Voice, Data, and Image Networking Practice (VDIN) is to ensure that the necessary information technology (I/T) systems and services are available to support the communications needs of MIT's academic, research, and administrative efforts. This includes working with IS Process owners and outside vendors to ensure that current systems are accessible and have adequate capacity. In addition, this Practice helps identify new communications technologies and facilitates their availability to meet future needs.
During 199899, VDIN accomplished the following goals.
The Voice, Data, and Image Networking (VDIN) Practice sponsored a Rate Review Project Team to recommend a new rate structure for Information Systems' voice, data, and network services. Since these rates were last set, there have been major changes in the telecommunications and networking industries. Prices and price structures have changed significantly. Requirements for investing in new equipment and an improved information technology infrastructure have also changed. This review was initiated to develop a new rate-setting methodology, as well as a new set of VDIN services rates which address the needs of IS customers, comply with federal regulations, and address IS business requirements. This project team was staffed with members from the Controller's Accounting Office (CAO), the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), and Information Systems, in addition to a consultant from PricewaterhouseCoopers. The team's recommendations were to announce and implement the new rates and business practices by 7/1/2000.
The VDIN Practice also sponsored a team chartered to identify ways to improve the network and telephone installation process. This team's recommendations will result in improved productivity and diminished frustration for IS customers.
One of the most critical issues facing Information Systems is the renewal of our communications infrastructure. This renewal is complicated by several factors. MIT's classic 5ESS, which was installed in 1988, will not be supported by its vendor beyond 2001. Current central telephone and network physical facilities are seriously undersized and lack current environmental controls. There is insufficient 5ESS capacity as now deployed to provide telephone services to buildings we plan to occupy or plan to construct (e.g., the new undergraduate and graduate dormitories, and the Stata Complex). Network usage is growing due to more computers on the campus, increasing collaboration among MIT departments and off-campus (e.g., MIT Singapore), and new developments in teaching and administrative applications. The campus network backbone is now at full capacity. Additional network drops cannot be installed in some campus areas due to lack of building facilities for telephone and data services. Higher bandwidth network service (i.e., 100 Mb/s) cannot be delivered from 90% of the campus telephone and data building facilities. To address these issues, IS put forward a Communication Infrastructure Renewal Plan at the end of the fiscal year. Initial phases of that plan are being implemented. Funding for later stages remains to be acquired.
During the past year, teams in IS Service continued to roll out higher-speed access to MITnet from individual buildings and desktops. Our ability to continue this work is challenged by a lack of necessary infrastructure (such as phone closets) to host newer high-speed electronics that require larger and cleaner environments then were required by older equipment. We successfully connected to the National Science Foundation's vBNS high-speed national backbone network. Planning work continues for a New England gigaPoP, now named the NOX-AP. Contracts are in place for co-location space at 230 Congress Street, which is the Boston point-of-presence for the Internet2Abilene network. We anticipate connectivity to Abilene by September 1999. These connections will support initiatives such as the Singapore-MIT Alliance and the Microsoft-funded I-Campus initiative.
The I/T Discovery Process promotes a shared vision for information technology (I/T) across the Institute. Through its alignment with the I/T Practices, Discovery is part of the initial processes to partner and engage customers in I/T strategies. Through Discovery projects, customers realize value from I/T through business analyses, best practices, data model and conceptual design, and strong sponsorship. Through the integration of business and technical design, Discovery projects set the stage for accelerated delivery of new I/T products and services. Discovery projects yield firmly sponsored commitments and an accelerated path for work throughout the I/T work processes: Delivery, Integration, Service, and Support. As an established method for linking I/T to business strategies and customer needs, Discovery seeks to reinforce the shared nature of I/T work across the Institute.
In keeping with its strategic goal to maximize value through enterprise-wide initiatives, Discovery engaged over the past year in diverse projects such as enterprise printing at MIT, new services for MIT's website (such as search engine, web reporting, and events calendaring), effective information broadcast and I/T system status information, and SAP transaction archiving. In addition, a Discovery project led to the decision to migrate the ICE-9 system to a modern hardware and database platform rather than replace the system at this time.
In support of the academic mission of the Institute, Discovery work resulted in a proposal to establish an Educational Media Content Center (EMCC). To enable key points of the emerging Student Information Policy, the Class Participants List Discovery project is defining what information technology is necessary to manage electronic participation in MIT classes. As part of the larger initiative to enable a sustainable academic computing environment based on Windows 2000 (Project Pismere), the Discovery business model project has developed scalable scenarios that allocate cost, renewability, and support requirements for this new I/T environment.
As an I/T service provided by IS, Discovery worked with a variety of units across the Institute. Discovery staff helped establish and conduct the Project Management training sessions offered through the Performance Consulting and Training Team (PC&T). Discovery staff facilitated an MIS Strategic Plan for Facilities. Discovery also helped Campus Police select a new package and implementation vendor for the new MIT parking system. Discovery also led a project to coordinate an I/T assessment and plan for the Campus Police Office. A project was conducted with the Office of Corporate Relations to identify a new customer relations system. Discovery worked closely with the MIT Libraries on electronic reserves, electronic theses, and the initial stages of a project for a new integrated library system. Discovery also assisted the Dibner Institute and Burndy Library with their I/T plans. In addition to these collaborations, Discovery conducted a project wholly within IS that will benefit many areas across MIT on Software Acquisition and Licensing.
Discovery worked during the year to improve its own processes. The Discovery tool kit (at http://web.mit.edu/is/discovery/) was expanded to include high-energy focused events, improved project leaders meetings, and improved web pages.
As the second of the five work processes, the Delivery Process exists so that MIT can realize business value as rapidly as possible from the implementation of new information technology products and services. Delivery work is organized exclusively into projects. Each Delivery project typically is launched after a Discovery project has qualified the business case, determined a technical approach, and identified funding. Currently, there are twelve active Delivery projects; twelve others were successfully completed in fiscal year 1999. Both figures represent improvements over fiscal year 1998. Highlights of the past year include the following.
This past year saw a continuation of the trend toward web-based applications, both for administrative and academic purposes. Two major electronic commerce milestones were achieved in fiscal year 1999. The first was the extension of the SAPweb requisition web form. Because of its easy-to-use single web screen, this requisitioning method now has three times the use of the native SAP application. The other major e-commerce milestone was the rollout of ECAT2, a second-generation electronic catalog system that is fully integrated with SAP (and SAPweb) and is MIT's first end-to-end, completely paper-less e-commerce system.
One major improvement to MIT's web environment was not readily apparent but important nonethelessthe installation of a newer, more powerful web search engine, Infoseek. Both Infoseek and Web Crossing, a sophisticated web conferencing tool, went into full production this year. Web Crossing's primary use is for presentation of course material and maintenance of course discussion threads; it is also used by the Alumni Association for distributed communication of class notes, and topical discussions among alumni/ae. This year also saw greatly increased customer use of Casetracker. Customers needing assistance from IS's Help Desk (or a growing array of other providers) now conveniently register, track, and close their own cases via a simple web front-end.
Recently, MIT has put in place the major structures of an enterprise application architecture that will last many years. Several new client-server transactional systems (including SAP, COEUS, and Adonis) are now in place. All draw "master data" reference files from the MIT Data Warehouse, where they in turn send their transactions nightly. The Warehouse, with data structures optimized for reporting and excellent end-user tools, has reduced reporting demand within transactional systems. Most of the enterprise systems now use the MIT-developed "Roles" database as a source of user authorization information. In June, the Procurement department announced that the "Roles" database is the official authorization repository for purchasing-related information at the Institute.
Significant Delivery effort was expended in completing the successful rollout of SAP. The Physical Plant conversion from the legacy PPL system to SAP was completed, with separate conversions taking place for each of seven major business areas. COEUS Version 3.0 was released in May, adding proposal development functionality for research groups across campus. The Budget Office successfully deployed a "fast track" replacement of its budget submission system to address Year 2000 problems. The quick rollout of this application, known as NIMBUS, was enabled by its use of MIT's I/T architecture (i.e., Warehouse, ROLES).
From an I/T perspective, this year has seen an unprecedented number of factors converge to force upgrades or decommissioning of legacy systems. Besides the much discussed global Year 2000 (Y2K) issue, MIT also is contending with a conversion to an expanded financial architecture for account numbers and object codes. A year-long project focused on addressing these changes was largely successful, with all transactions now going directly to SAP on a real time basis.
A pilot project permitting on-line thesis submission and access was also completed. This work drew on the experience of another recently concluded project, the Computer Science Technical Report initiative.
Several new tools and training opportunities were made available to MIT's developers working in the Delivery Process. The IS-developed Project Database was simplified and web links were provided to related items, such as Project Notebooks. In the SAP arena, MIT's development and technical documentation standards were upgraded. Using these standards as a basis, a formal Peer Review process was inaugurated for all new SAP production programs. Despite a very competitive employment market, staffing has remained at almost at full strength, ensuring that Delivery is ready to meet the challenges of the new millennium.
Robert V. Ferrara
The core mission of the I/T Service Process is to manage MIT's information technology infrastructure reliably and efficiently. During the past year, I/T Service teams from areas including the Data Center in W91, MITnet, telephone and related services, the Athena Computing Environment, database services, and desktop maintenance (PC repair) reached significant milestones.
Currently 90 administrative servers are supported in the Data Center. This number represents a 50% growth within the past year. The average availability of the administrative servers reached a record high of 99.90%. Approximately two Terabytes of storage are currently supported in the Data Center, with a doubling of storage requirements anticipated over the next year as business units continue to require significant increases in data storage capacity.
The 5ESS Service Team expanded its dial-tone services off-campus to 3 Cambridge Center. Software upgrades were also performed on the 5ESS and ACD systems to improve reliability and efficiency. The team also expanded its business continuity capabilities by replacing old batteries with new low maintenance gel-cell batteries to provide E19 with eight hours of backup power. The Transmission team continued to expand and enhance MITnet service and 5ESS service to campus buildings and renovated spaces. In addition, the 5ESS Service and Transmission teams worked with the Planning Office, Facilities, and others to develop and coordinate a utilities master plan for MIT's communications infrastructure.
The Athena Software Service team supported the transition to a single SGI operating system and the integration of easier-to-support versions of several important subsystems, including email and print spooling. The Athena Software Service Team has also been working to support the Linux port to Athena, which is currently in its Discovery phase, and is expected to be deployed during fiscal year 2000.
Athena Server Operations (ASO) deployed six RAID AFS servers, which increased storage in the Athena environment to more than half a terabyte while reducing the probability of data loss due to disk failure. ASO also implemented incremental backups, allowing more frequent backups. During the course of the year, ASO significantly increased the computational power of the Athena dialup pool to meet increased demands, and upgraded the operating systems and Athena software version on many servers to improve functionality and achieve Y2K compliance.
Cluster Services and PC Service continued to provide hardware repair and general service to the Athena Clusters, in addition to Office Computing deployment services. These teams played key roles in responding to the floods in Buildings 3 and 10, 1-115, and W20. During the year, these teams also deployed approximately 1,000 systems of all kinds across the Institute; repaired and serviced 1,900 personal computers; and responded to 2,887 Athena hardware hotline calls.
The Database Services Team worked with the Institute's major administrative departments to maintain over 100 databases supporting SAP, Admissions, Alumni, Payroll, Pension, Personnel, and ISTelecommunications, among others.
The Business Continuity Management Team (BCMT) continued to improve the Institute's ability to respond to "disasters" affecting both I/T-intensive operations, as well as the overall emergency response and recovery capabilities of the Institute. The BCMT recently added two critical MIT functions, the Technology Licensing Office and the Office of Sponsored Programs, to the number of existing recovery plans. In addition, the BCMT carried out two major cross-functional disaster simulations, exercising all of the Institute's emergency response capabilities in "live" and tabletop exercises. The BCMT will coordinate the Institute's recovery from any Year 2000 (Y2K) or related issues during the Y2K "transition" weekend.
Roger A. Roach
The core mission of the I/T Support Process is the effective and efficient delivery of high-quality support services to the Institute's information technology users. Support is provided by a variety of standing teams: I/T Help Desk; Business Liaison Team (BLT); the MIT Computer Connection (MCC); Training and Publications; Desktop Products; Adaptive Technology Support (ATIC Lab); Departmental Computing Support (DCS); Campuswide Information Systems Support (CWIS); Athena Help/Residential Computing Consulting; Academic Computing Support; 5ESS Support; and Support Team Headquarters. Customer support is provided via e-mail and the Web, by telephone, at the customer site (including dormitories and FSILGs), or through walk-in service in several locations.
To better identify and refine support services, Support team members work to improve the help process by listening carefully to customers and balancing customer feedback with Institute goals and resource availability. While focused on different aspects of users' needs, the highly qualified staff on these teams share a common commitment to the I/T Support mission. During 199899, the Support Process engaged in the following types of initiatives:
DIRECT CUSTOMER SUPPORT
COMMUNICATION, TRAINING, AND OUTREACH
William F. Hogue
The mission of I/T Integration is to implement an information technology infrastructure that has high levels of reliability, availability, and serviceability; provides excellent price/performance; meets current MIT needs and can quickly adapt to meet future needs; and enables the effective performance of the other I/T processes. This year, as in previous years, Integration teams concentrated on helping development teams use MIT's current I/T infrastructure. The team's educational and consulting efforts continue to be its most important work. During the past year, teams working in the Integration Process made progress on several fronts.
The Integration Team worked to educate software designers about MIT's current I/T infrastructure and new directions. The lunch seminar series begun in fiscal year 1996, which draws 3080 MIT developers per session, continued, covering such topics as: reporting strategies, Linux (a free Unix operating system), Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), Java, Year 2000 Kerberos testing, the MIT Data Warehouse, next generation electronic mail, and calendaring and scheduling software and standards.
Integration staff also acted as consultants for designers and developers. Infrastructure added in prior years requires continual advocacy to ensure its appropriate use. Major efforts to integrate the Data Warehouse, the MIT ID server, and the "Roles" authorization system continue. In the past year, Data Administrators helped with data modeling for new systems, and Integration team members reviewed and advised on designs for new systems, in addition to reviewing vendor products for teams. Strategies such as shared training, web pages aimed at MIT's software developer community, seminars on I/T infrastructure and security issues, partnerships with development teams, consulting with MIT developers and outside contractors, and project reviews exemplify Integration's ongoing education efforts. These efforts were rewarded this past year by the increasing usage of current I/T infrastructure, such as MIT certificates for authentication, the MIT Data Warehouse to share and access data, the MIT ID server to check for people who already have MIT ID numbers, "Roles" as a common authentication system, and Oracle databases.
Integration project teams worked both to update current I/T infrastructure and to add appropriate new infrastructure. Key among these were efforts to increase I/T security. IS added the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system with a secure web interface to the I/T infrastructure, initially deploying it for MIT's SAP purchasing partners. As another security measure, IS piloted a Network Security Team to help address computer break-ins and advise machine owners on clean up and recovery. A team composed of staff from IS and Student Services updated the registration process for new students to protect sensitive student on-line data during registration. IS renegotiated MIT's desktop virus protection software and deployed new products after a series of market changes.
One goal of the Integration process is to propagate MIT technology to vendors of commercial products and to other users outside MIT. By exerting influence in strategic areas, such as network security in open-network environments, MIT has the opportunity in the future to buy (rather than build) its preferred I/T infrastructure components and applications. To encourage a standard for network security, the Integration Process continued to make Kerberos Version 5 freely available beyond MIT in fiscal year 1999, worked with commercial vendors to ensure that products incorporating Kerberos would interoperate, and helped organizations outside MIT learn about and use Kerberos. MIT developers continue to attempt to influence how Microsoft incorporates a version of Kerberos into their next operating system, Windows 2000. Similarly, Integration staff members are working to influence Apple, Oracle, Sun, Qualcom, and SAP AG. Staff participation in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Common Solutions Group (CSG) and other groups also allow MIT to influence directions.
The "I/T watch" subprocess is designed to track technology directions. During fiscal year 1999, Integration staff tracked changes in Java, web development tools, web servers, object-oriented technology, and Corba developments.
Susan S. Minai-Azary
The I/T Competency Group (CG) is responsible for ensuring that IS has the right people in the right jobs, with the right technical and behavioral competencies, at the right time. In order to achieve this mission, CG is involved in processes and programs focused on recruiting, retaining, retraining, and restructuring staff. In addition, CG continues to be an interface to central Personnel, and an internal focal point for IS employee relations.
During fiscal year 1999, IS experienced an 8% attrition rate, down from last year's 9%, with a generally reduced cycle-time to fill positions. In the past, the most common reason cited for leaving was pay inequity. To address the pay parity issue, CG conducted a thorough pay equity analysis, using industry survey data. Over 40 IS administrative staff were paid significantly below-market (i.e., below the 10th percentile of the industry survey). Concurrent with the pay analysis, work was done to develop a plan to bring IS salaries into better alignment with market. A major step was taken in this regard during the July 1, 1999, annual salary review. Since staff members were aware that this pay equity work was going on, and had sufficient confidence that pay issues would be addressed, there was only 1 departure due solely to salary. CG also participated on the MIT Classification and Compensation Project's Advisory Team. We believe that implementation of that team's recommendations will be of long term positive benefit to IS.
Since retention involves more than pay, CG also continued to conduct current-staff interviews and staff-exit interviews to understand why people stay in IS and why they leave. Based on these interviews, CG worked to address other areas, including quality of leadership, quality of worklife, and sense of organizational focus.
This past year, the IS Performance Appraisal and salary review process was changed significantly. The appraisal form was modified to focus more on results than activities, and included a competency worksheet. A new rating category, "Learning," was included to accommodate new employees. For the salary review, attention was focused on an individual's position in the salary range (i.e., highly-paid, high-achieving performers received lower percentage increases than lower-paid, high-achieving performers). Individual staff members' salaries-after-increase were compared to ensure internal equity. In general, key staff viewed these changes as positive; many of these philosophical principles have been incorporated in the Institute's Recommended Salary Management Guidelines, as of June 1999.
CG continued to sponsor or participate in a number of activities designed to inform and/or develop competencies in IS. These included coaching workshops; an Institute-wide mentoring course (with the Performance Consulting and Training Team); a customer service training program; discussions groups regarding pay philosophy, performance management, and accountability; and an enrichment of the CG web pages.
CG continued to promote competency-based interviewing by making software to support the interview process available to others at the Institute. CG provided assistance to other MIT departments seeking assistance with recruiting (such as Campus Police), and introduced Personnel to a web "wrap" program that posts all MIT jobs on the boston.com web pages. CG funded MIT participation in four I/T-related job fairs. In the interest of process improvement, IS's hiring process was fully documented and published on the web.
Working with an external consultant, the Human Resource Practices Development (HRPD) Team resources, and others, CG developed a long-term plan for team development and team leader development. Initial steps in these plans, such as a team formation guide and team training, were implemented. Other steps in the plan, such as formalized subordinate feedback for team leaders, are planned for fiscal 2000.
In addition, the CG Director assumed responsibility for the newly reorganized Administrative and Business Support Services, resulting in several process and organizational improvements.
Allison F. Dolan
MIT Reports to the President 1998-99