2017 state audits on UC system call for improvements

BRIAN NGUYEN / AGGIE FILE

Audits recommend UC system adhere more strictly to guidelines, practices

Three reports from California State Auditor Elaine Howle’s office were released relating to the UC system’s payroll and budgetary processes in April of 2017.  

The first audit of the year was issued on Aug. 22 and focused mainly on various campus-wide service contracts. According to the audit, the university system “generally adhered” to UCOP’s guidelines concerning contract policy, but the audit noted room for improvement.

“The university has not fully followed its policy for justifying its decisions to displace university employees with services contract workers,” the Aug. 22 audit states. “Low-wage services contract workers received hourly wages that were $3.86 lower than comparable university employees received.”

The audit recommended that UCOP adhere more strictly to guidelines concerning displacement by providing and promoting guideline-focused training.

The second audit, released on Aug. 24, mainly concerned the UC’s projected campus-wide salaries as well as the “human resources system” –– referred to as UCPath. According to the audit, the implementation of UCPath will be more costly than what was originally anticipated by UCOP and has been subsequently pushed back until June of 2019.

“The $753 million in cost savings, primarily from staff reductions, that the Office of the President anticipated would result from UCPath’s implementation, will not materialize,” the Aug. 24 audit states. “The Office of the President has not consistently informed the regents of UCPath’s challenges. Weaknesses in the Office of the President’s project management contributed to UCPath’s escalating cost and schedule delays.”

This audit recommends that UCOP develop strict cost reporting guidelines for UCPath and other related projects by the end of the year.

The third audit, released on April 25, revealed that UCOP and campus-wide administrative spending had increased. The audit focused on UCOP’s administration and budget.

“The Office of the President’s executive and administrative salaries are significantly higher than comparable state employee salaries,” the April 25 audit states. “Annual budget and staffing levels for the Office of the President are higher than administrations at other comparable public universities.”

This audit recommended that the Office of the President implement “best practices” for budgeting, look into creating a reserve policy and reallocate any “excess revenues” to the campuses.

UCOP issued a response to the findings of the three audits.

“The recommendations, largely about transparency and best practices, are constructive,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “They will be implemented thoroughly and on time, and we will report back at regular intervals to the Legislature and the UC Board of Regents. The hallmark of institutional excellence is the eagerness, and resolve, to continually improve.”

Most recently, at the UC Board of Regents meeting on Sept. 13, Napolitano announced several new changes which will take into account the recommendations of the audits.

“New policies will […] reduce reimbursement for lodging and meals for those traveling on UC business [and] eliminate prospectively a supplemental retirement contribution for newly hired or appointed senior management group level employees, or current senior management level employees transferring to a different position,” the update on the UCOP website states. “In addition, at the Office of the President, UC-issued cell phones, tablets and mi-fi contracts are being reassessed and will be allowed only if a position requires remote access or before or after work hour access.”

New changes will begin to take shape as early as Oct. 15. The implementation of the new changes is expected to be complete by April 2020.

 

Written by: Clara Zhao — campus@theaggie.org