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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is moving all of its custodial services back in house, ending its agreements with outside cleaning contractors and hiring many of their employees.

The transition to in-house custodial services is set to be complete by July 1, 2013, with the hiring of approximately 120 employees. Currently about half of the cleaning crews work for outside contractors and the rest are university employees.

Dave Irvin, associate vice chancellor of facilities services, said this “insourcing” of labor can be a bit more expensive, but the benefits are numerous.

“There is an extra cost, but it’s more than offset by increased service, better cleaning, and more responsiveness to the needs of the university,” Irvin said. In-house cleaning crews can be used for special events, back-to-school functions, and other activities in a way that was not always available with outsourced crews, he said.

In addition to greater flexibility, Irvin said, there is the pride of working directly for the university and the ability to be the “eyes and ears” for potential repair items and deferred maintenance needs.

“Bringing these employees onto the UT payroll also provides them with better wages, benefits, and continuing education opportunities,” Irvin said. “As we move toward our goal of being a Top 25 university, one of our commitments is to help improve employee compensation wherever we can, and this helps us do that.”

The “insourcing” move was a recommendation from a task force that looked at the university’s peer institutions and discovered that very few of the nation’s top universities continue to outsource these services.

With the new employees coming onboard, the university now can implement the “total cleaning” concept in campus buildings, Irvin said. This is an effort to keep restrooms and common areas cleaner and provide deeper levels of cleaning services in private offices by being more responsive to workers’ schedules on a building-by-building basis.

Total cleaning already is in place in the Min Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building and in the UT Conference Center, Irvin said, and the response has been positive. All campus buildings are set to transition to the total cleaning concept by July 2013.

For more information on the university’s custodial services, call 865-974-2054.