In a unanimous decision, the Joint Legislative Assembly Committee (JLAC) of the California Legislature approved an audit requesting the examination of University of California financial practices.
The decision was finalized in wake of an official request made by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), who brought forth reports highlighting spending discrepancies within the UC system. The financial audit is expected to commence in spring of this year.
“Not even one month can pass without another scandal plaguing our university,” Yee said. “A comprehensive state audit will further uncover the extent of the waste, fraud and abuse within the UC and finally hold university executives accountable.”
Investigations into the university’s finances will evaluate the policies and practices used to allocate public funds, UC practices for non-salary expenditures, and the use of student fees. From the outset of Yee’s request, UC administration stated that the audit will be met with the UC’s full cooperation.
“I think in general the university has an approach that we participate in these things,” said Kelly Ratcliff, UC Davis associate vice chancellor for Budget and Resource Management. “In my mind, if we’re given requests to do things, we do everything we can to respond to those requests. We have a general obligation as a public institution to be accountable, and that’s the way we run our business.”
The audit requested by Senator Yee is not the first administered on the UC system. In 2005, findings from an independent audit carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) were released to the public, revealing the compensation arrangements of selected University of California employees. PwC’s audit showed that the regents, as required by regents policies, did not approve certain benefits paid to selected employees.
A subsequent audit in 2006, carried out by the Internal Audit Program of the University, was designed to be complementary to the PwC audit, and confirmed these prior findings.
“If anything, this audit that will be carried out by the Bureau of State Audits will be a good step forward in getting actual transparency,” said a UC Davis librarian that chose to remain anonymous to avoid possible repercussions. “Students and faculty deserve to know how our money is being allocated.”
Audits that do not require legislative approval are conducted routinely on campus through the Internal Audit Services (IAS). As an element of the Office of Ethics, Compliance, and Audit Services of the University of California Regents, the IAS responds to complaints and finance discrepancies within the University.
As of now, according to IAS director Richard Catalano, the larger University of California audit is requesting most of its information from the UC Office of the President, making the role of the IAS division on campus minimal.
“Every year, we develop an audit plan and report to the provost and the senior vice president in Oakland, where it is ultimately approved by the regents,” Catalano said. “We audit everything, we even once had concern about the accountability of our donated body program at the UCD Medical Center.
REBECCA SHRAGGE can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.