UC President Janet Napolitano apologized for creating the “wrong impression,” having interfered in a state audit which claimed the UC system was hiding $175 million.
State lawmakers called a joint legislative oversight hearing Tuesday to review the audit findings, and criticized Napolitano for interfering with auditors’ surveys of the UC system’s 10 campuses.
“While we believe we did things appropriately, it is clear in retrospect that we could have handled this better,” Napolitano said at the hearing. Napolitano said she regrets how things unfolded, but wanted to ensure auditors’ survey answers were correct.
State auditor Elaine Howle said UC Office of the President (UCOP) had interfered by previewing auditors’ surveys and changing the answers.
For UC Santa Cruz, the original audit text was completely replaced to be more favorable toward UCOP programs like UCPath — the program used to implement a single payroll for all UC employees.
An undisclosed auditor called Howle and the audit department into question in an anonymous letter. “I’ve never seen the office in such a mess,” wrote the auditor.
Napolitano said because of the breakdown in process, they will implement a new process for how state auditors will interact with the campuses and what that process will look like based on the response from Howle.
The UC Regents critiqued the claims made in the audit, particularly the claim that the pool of money was being hidden from Regents’ approval.
“There should be procedures and protocols for us to approve expenditures,” said Student Regent Marcela Ramirez. “But to say that we did not know how the budget was being utilized — I don’t believe that, and I think it mischaracterizes the relationship the UC Regents has with UCOP.”