Today, the Texas State Auditor released a detailed report on the number of full-time equivalent employees in state government.Â The central conclusion of the report is that, while state agencies have reduced their number of FTE's by 8.4 percent since 1997, higher education institutions have grown their workforce by 26.1 percent over the same period.Â In fact, the report found that Texas higher ed institutions now have 143,044 FTE's, more than theÂ 142,621 in all other state government agencies combined.Â While most colleges submitted an explanation for busting their FTE target, the Texas State Technical College in Harlingen failed to provide any reason to the Auditor.
Â To be fair, higher ed enrollment has increased by over 20 percent since 1997.Â However, because of economies of scale, the growth in staff should not grow at the same or higher rate as the number of students, but rather at a lower rate.Â For example, even with more students, you don't need another library and another curator for the library or more janitors to clean the same building.Â
Furthermore, automation advances in the last ten years should have enabled some tasks such as record management to be computerized.Â Also, we know it is commonplace for tenured professors to be required to teach only one or two classes and take sabbaticals (what ordinary folks might call paid vacations abroad) for 6 months for a year.
The bottom line is that, even though the state's population has grown since 1997, the state has found enough efficiencies to decrease its agency FTE's by 8.4 percent so it is simply unacceptable that higher ed FTE's have skyrocketed during this period.
In light of this report, the Legislature needs to ask all of the higher education institutions with their hands out for more money this session to prove that they are using existing funds wisely.