12/7/2009 I cannot reach same totals as Trask on budget cuts

Fact Checker here. Thank you, Chronicle, for this informative article. I hope that when you resume publication in January, you delve into the faculty retirement incentive program, because big big bucks are involved.

Now.... about Staff Retirement Incentive #2

It would be useful for Dr Trask to share with us his calculations on "savings." You know, Tallman, visibility and accountability. How about updating the website that you yourself created to keep us informed of the financial meltdown, and maybe a thermometer that shows the savings as they occur.

Let's look at Retirement Incentive #2. He and his staff had predicted 10, 20 or 50 retirements. You have to wonder how they could be so far off, assuming the final count is 60.

And you have to wonder how he sees savings "north" of $5 million. That's $83,000 per head, and not the $100,000 he boasted about to The Chronicle. It's little discrepancies like this that do not add up that make you wonder.

Put simply, Fact Checker is unable to duplicate Trask's calculation of "savings." He apparently does not include:

A) the cost of severance payments that do not count in Tallman's annual budget. (For retirement incentive plan #1, Fact Checker is told by a mole the cost was $11 million, although I cannot confirm that).

B) the cost of monthly pensions. While these people are no longer on the annual budget, they will be getting Duke money from another source, the pension plan, all of which depletes our net assets.

C) the cost of one of the most lavish medical plans in the nation for our retirees. The cost of this is now predicted by Trask himself to go up more than 40 percent in the next four years.

D) the cost of lavish gifts from Duke for their children to go to college. This is the Children's Tuition Grant Program. Lavish? In the case of Trask, who continues on the payroll frozen at $478,000 a year, it means an extra $28,113 a year for each of his two children while they are undergraduates. By comparison, Duke's highly touted need-based financial aid packages for undergraduates average only $26,685 per year in the last available calculation.

(Footnote: no wonder at a briefing for employees, when someone asked about the children's tuition plan, Trask shot back immediately that it was safe from cutbacks).

So what's the headcount. Trask had said "the university" must shed 1,000 people. The Fact Checker estimate is we still have 570 to go. OUCH.

Mr. Trask will not answer inquiries from a researcher working for Fact Checker on the 1,000, leading you to wonder if Mr Brodhead indeed is in charge and what became of his pledge of accountability.

About the 1,000:

Do they come from the academic operations of Duke alone, the so-called "campus" employees who total 9,173.

Or do some of them also come from people listed as employees of the Medical and Nursing Schools. The total here is 10,232, which seems out of whack until you realize this is where we lodge our researchers, most of them paid for by dedicated revenue streams from contracts and grants.

Or do we include any of the 6,897 people working at Duke Hospital, and smaller numbers in our other patient care areas? These people too also outside "the university budget", being paid by patients getting medical care.

Here is the importance of this: if only the 9,173 "campus" employees must absorb this hit , the pain will be very narrowly focused and very deep, not spread across the spectrum of Duke fairly.

✔Thank you for reading Fact Checker this semester.

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