The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) is the state institution of higher education focused on engineering and technology research. TEES conducts engineering and technology-related research for the enhancement for the educational systems and the economic development of the State, as well as to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Texas. In accomplishing its statewide mission, TEES provides a unique framework for leveraging and focusing human, physical and financial resources in serving its sponsors and the citizens of Texas through research/education collaborations. The agency serves as a catalyst to maximize research and educational partnerships with other higher education institutions, with public schools, with the private sector, and with federal and state agencies. Headquartered in College Station, TEES has a close relationship with Texas A&M University as well as regional divisions at 14 other institutions of higher education in Texas, including one community college, Del Mar College.
TEES strives to achieve the highest standards of customer satisfaction and meet the expectations of the customer in a timely manner. In addition to satisfying its customers, TEES is dedicated to the continuous enhancement and improvement of the work performed since improvement will increase the capacity to serve a broader clientele as well as increase job satisfaction for TEES employees. As TEES is a highly leveraged agency with only 1 out of every 15 dollars coming from the State of Texas, customer satisfaction is critical. In order to effectively compete in bringing these external dollars to Texas, customer satisfaction is of highest priority to TEES. Sponsors soon realize that the services provided are of high quality because they are provided through an organization dedicated to producing research and service results for its customers. The fact that the majority of the sponsors are at least second time customers is of great importance to TEES.
Sponsors receive individualized attention from TEES via a contract/project administrator assigned to each contract. The contract/project administrator provides information and solicits input from the sponsor based on the sponsor's request for participation in the ongoing project, the deliverables and the contract compliance. TEES has developed a number of benchmarks and performance measures as well as surveys (available on the Engineering Portal) and forums to monitor customer satisfaction as well as solicit feedback and ideas as to ways to improve services.
Support services provided to TEES customers are primarily in the area of research administration. Efforts are made within this area to assure that quality services and deliverables are provided to the sponsor. One obvious indicator of customer satisfaction is the return of the customer to TEES with additional contracts. TEES Office of Sponsored Research monitors the percentage of returning sponsors as well as surveys sponsors as to the satisfaction with the service received. TEES has found that customer satisfaction is enhanced due to the fact that a written agreement is negotiated and executed with the sponsor prior to initiating the work. Changes in original plans are incorporated as amendments to the original agreement and signed by both parties. Agreement is reached as to the specific statement of work, deliverables to be produced, time frame in which the work will be done, costs of the project, the participatory role of the sponsor throughout the process and other issues in regard to the terms and conditions under which the work will be done. Through this mechanism, the expectation and objectives of each party are discussed and mutually agreed in writing at the onset. These agreements result in higher satisfaction due to realistic expectations by both parties..
In order to meet contract commitments to sponsors, TEES has implemented a number of controls for effective contract administration. These include the implementation of an information system which produces (1) Deliverable/Reports Due Reminder Notices to the researchers, (2) Cost Sharing fulfilled Yes or No sent electronically to researcher (3) Contract Negotiations Tracking System as to the status of new negotiations, (4) Contract Execution Turn-Around Time Automated Calculations and (5) Payments to Subcontractors and Vendors Turn-Around Time Automated Calculations. In addition, staff within the TEES Office of Sponsored Research follow-up with the various sponsors to assure that the sponsor's records accurately reflect the receipt of deliverables sent by TEES.
In an effort to meet the demand of the federal government in regard to federally sponsored projects, the TEES Federal Compliance Office was established. This office assists sponsors, auditors, researchers and staff in assuring that the objectives and requirements of the federal sponsors are met and that TEES retains the right to continue to receive these monies from the federal agencies.
In order to maximize our ability to serve customers, TEES Research Services assists in marketing TEES capabilities to outside customers as well as making TEES researchers aware of outside opportunities. This is done through the indexing and linking of researchers by areas of expertise with funding opportunities. TEES Research Services also makes substantial efforts to increase the competitiveness of proposals. The success rate of the proposal efforts is monitored as are other output and outcome trends including numbers of proposals written and percentages of successful solicitations.
To assure that TEES is meeting its statewide mission to support industry and other partners, TEES monitors the number of successful collaborative efforts where human and financial resources can be leveraged. For example, the TEES Center for Community Support (CCS) maintains a detailed database on all community based organizations that contact the center and the subsequent services received by that organization. Specific elements of the standard service protocol are recorded to insure top quality, professional services. All grant proposals whether funded or not are recorded; and to date the Center has secured over $32 million for Texas communities. In addition, the CCS conducts semi-annual customer satisfaction surveys of prior clients. The most recent survey indicated that 97% of customers agreed that CCS services were important to their organization.
The transfer of technology to the private sector is a vital part of the agency's mission. TEES monitors the number of invention disclosures, patents and license agreements to assure that the results of the work are maximized by the private sector and the public at large.
TEES has experienced an 85% growth in sponsored contracts over the last five years. In order to maintain the same levels of quality customer service while absorbing substantial growth, TEES established a Customer Service position in 1996. This position is dedicated to customer service and response and handles problems or non-routine transactions. This position is highly utilized internally as well as externally as customers can register their concerns with the anticipation of expeditious attention and response.
TEES administrators, researchers and staff all share a common commitment to customer satisfaction. Since the majority of annual operating income comes to this agency as a direct result of customer satisfaction, customer service is a must. TEES employees welcome feedback and the opportunity to better serve our sponsors.
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