New Policy Governance Process Aims for Clarity, Efficiency

The thought of formal policies governing communications and directives often brings with it a fear of an added layer of bureaucracy, but Pitt’s Office of Policy Development and Management hopes to quell that notion.

“We want the office to be a resource to help people develop policies and then run those policies through the right review process that is transparent, inclusive and efficient,” said Tom Hitter, assistant vice chancellor for policy development and management. Hitter heads the new office, leading a team of four to work with University senior leadership in developing and implementing long-term policy strategy at Pitt.

University Policies will be established and revised through a process of four steps: initiation, development, review and approval, and publication.

Read more about these steps and the process online.

In December, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher approved Policy 01-01-01: Establishing University Policies. It describes and establishes the roles and responsibilities for developing, implementing and managing University Policies and their supporting documents.

This newly approved policy governs the review, revision, approval, publication and decommissioning of University Policies. It aims to codify a process that is clear, informed by appropriate consultation and consistent with the University’s principles of shared governance.

Hitter said that the policy formalizes a clear and transparent process, replacing a policy and process that had not been updated at the University since the 1980s, which caused significant problems for implementation of new policies, including lack of consistency and inclusiveness. It was informed in part by the conversations he had with University faculty, staff, students, leadership and members of shared governance across Pitt over the course of his first year at Pitt, as well as benchmarking the processes Pitt’s peer institutions have in place.

Policy 01-01-01 is designed only for directives that apply beyond a single unit — that is, for policies that are applicable University-wide.

Directives within a single unit may be enacted through a process not covered by the Policy 01-01-01, but these unit policies must not contradict University Policies. The policy office can also be a resource for the development of these Unit Policies.   

What is the difference between a policy, procedure and a standard? What exactly does a unit policy govern? What happens to a policy that is no longer applicable?

Find answers to these and other frequently questions at the Office of Policy Development and Management’s website.

Hitter said that he hopes that the office will be a valuable resource to prospective policy makers throughout the process of proposal, development, review and publication. Currently, his team is developing resources including policy and procedure templates, scoping documents and draft charters, and their services are available to policy makers who have any questions or ideas. He noted that the office has already received positive feedback on these resources and the availability of policy office staff to discuss policy ideas and issues.

For more information about the policy office, visit the Office of Policy Development and Management. Read more about Hitter and his priorities for the office at University Times.