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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Numbers show discrepancies in ASUCD spending

In ASUCD senate meetings, senators debate how much money to allocate to certain projects. However, the monetary value listed on senate bills doesn’t always accurately reflect how much ASUCD is spending.

Since 2009-10, ASUCD has passed 28 capital spending bills. In a sample of 12, 11 of the bills had monetary discrepancies. Discrepancies ranged from $100 to $2,000, and the majority of allocations were actually less than the bill stated, according to numbers provided by Kathy Wilton, ASUCD office manager.

For example, Senate Bill 23 of this year, for a new table and chairs for the student government conference room, was slated to cost $1,017. ASUCD actually spent $316. In 2009-10, the senate allocated $4,000 to go toward a video podcasting system in Chemistry 194 and Sciences Lecture Hall. ASUCD spent $2,531.

After the ASUCD president signs a spending bill, Wilton is given a copy of the bill and creates an expenditure account. It is then up to the bill’s author to spend the money, said Mark Champagne, ASUCD business manager.

Champagne also said that a bill stays current until the end of the fiscal year, although the funds could be carried over to the next fiscal year if the author needs more time. Any unused funds roll back into the reserve accounts, and any overdrafts roll out of them. 

Spending more than stated

The sample revealed one case in which ASUCD spent more than senators discussed or voted on. In 2009-10, ASUCD spent $12,868 on equipment for the Bike Barn, even though Senate Bill 67 was for $11,081.

Champagne said this kind of discrepancy typically occurs one of two ways: the shipping and tax are not included in the bill, or the price of an item increases from the initial quote.

In the case of the Bike Barn, the overrun was caused by $1,152 in contract support, $389 in additional printer receipt material and $350 for a data conversion.

“Contract support is when you need to contact the company in case the system goes down…” Champagne said in an e-mail. “This should probably have been taken out of the operating budget, but was included in one large invoice from the company, Tri-Technical Systems.”Digital recordings remain offline

With Senate Bill 11 in 2009-10, ASUCD allocated $244.66 to purchase equipment to record senate meetings and post the audio online.

“Creating podcasts of important ASUCD discussions and making them available on the ASUCD website will increase transparency of ASUCD proceedings and create a more informed student population,” the bill states.

Ultimately, $139 was spent on the project. However, these recordings haven’t made it online yet.

Ryan Meyerhoff, ASUCD webmaster, said he had no idea the equipment had been purchased all. No senators or members of the executive office ever asked him to put recordings online, he said.

“Conceivably it’d be really easy to upload the digital files, but I haven’t had any to upload,” Meyerhoff said.

ASUCD Vice President Bree Rombi obtained the equipment from her predecessor, Previn Witana, and recorded some meetings this year. She said she’s encountered technical difficulties though, and she’s not sure whether or not the senate will have to buy new software to advance the project. It may not be worth it, she said.

Vodcasting systems virtually unused thus far

The senate put $2,531 toward video podcasting systems in Chemistry 194 and Sciences Lecture Hall 123. Since its implementation in Winter 2011, one professor has utilized the lecture capture system – John Roth, professor of microbiology.

The ASUCD funds were used in addition to support from the Office of the Registrar, the UC Davis School of Law, Information and Educational Technology and Academic Technology Services, said Joe Kelley, senior development engineer at Academic Technology Services.

Kelley said he might need to work more closely with ASUCD to garner more faculty interest. But despite the fact that only one professor used the system, Kelley said that he wants to further the project, as student response in Roth’s class was significant.

“We are hoping to pilot another lecture capture system in the Fall Quarter that will be accessible to the ASUCD and others,” he said in an e-mail. “Lecture Capture will become more prevalent over the next few years.”

JANELLE BITKER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, information is good, but this is not just pure information. It is information at an angle. Furthermore, it demonstrates a lack of knowledge on the part of the writer. Nowhere in this article is it mentioned that spending bills are projections of costs, not guaranteed totals. Furthermore, as was mentioned above, this is not a statistically sound evaluation. It seems that the cases were selected based on the independent variable, thus leading the readers to be biased towards the writer’s case selection.

    @lulz My name is Patrick Sheehan, and I am not on the “ASUCD payroll”.

  2. How many commenters are (or recently were) on ASUCD payroll again? At least 3, by my count.

    ASUCD has always had a love-hate relationship with the Aggie– now they can just hate semi-anonymously.

    On the other hand (not referring to the commenter), it is indeed refreshing for the aggie to examine past records and let the public know. Years ago, the aggie vigorously reviewed slate records and rhetoric vs. accomplishments for the public during debates, etc.

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