The University of California’s academic and administrative spending is currently being examined by the State Audit Bureau to see if the institution is using taxpayer money in accordance with a four-year agreement with the state.
Assemblymember Jenny Oropeza (D-55th District) sent a letter on Sept. 5 to Joint Legislative Audit Committee Chair Fred Keeley (D-27th District), requesting the auditors to examine the UC’s allocation of state funds on instruction, research, administration and summer sessions. The Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved a request for an audit of the UC Academic Administration on Sept. 12.
Oropeza is concerned that money, recently allocated to the UC as part of a four-year partnership agreement, is not being properly spent.
“In spite of the University’s agreement to increase the quality of undergraduate education, one of its fastest rising costs is academic administration,” she wrote in a statement. “We need to ensure that the University’s priorities are in the right place – on educating students.”
The goal of the audit is to determine where the UC stands in relation to its agreement with the state, said Beverly Hunter, Oropeza’s chief of staff.
“We’re not presuming that the audit is going to show one thing or the other,” Hunter said, “but we think the public will be surprised to see how much money is spent on administration instead of instruction.”
The audit is expected to take approximately 2,990 work hours at a cost of about $209,300, plus travel expense and the cost of outside consultants, to come from the State Audit Bureau’s budget.
In May 2000, the UC made an agreement with the state for an annual four-percent increase to the State General Fund in exchange for a promise from the UC to make improvements in eight areas. The money was not designated for any specific purpose.
An additional one-percent increase, designated specifically for building maintenance, instructional equipment, instructional technology and libraries, was also included in the agreement.
The UC says it is allocating funds according to the guidelines in place.
“Careful resource management and meeting our partnership agreement obligations are ongoing UC commitments, especially during these challenging budgetary times,” UC spokesperson Paul Schwartz said.
The UC regularly provides accountability reports to the Legislature on a variety of University matters, including resource allocation, performance measurement, student programs, academic and non-academic staffing levels, and teaching and research activities.
However, Oropeza does not think the reports are adequate.
“I am concerned that the University does not have a way to measure whether it is meeting these commitments,” Oropeza wrote in the letter requesting the audit. “Reporting expenditures in this manner does not allow the Governor or the Legislature to measure the University’s commitment to meeting the goals it agreed to in its 2000 partnership with the governor.”
The report by the Bureau of State Audits will provide independently developed and verified information about the UC’s performance. The state auditor will evaluate the effectiveness of the UC’s methods of allocation of the new funding, as well as the effectiveness of the UC-developed procedures for measuring how far campuses have moved toward the goals of the agreement.
The Bureau of State Audits will also compare current per-student spending to per-student spending in prior years in order to determine how the UC has allocated the money from the increased funding.
“The University fully expects to satisfy any questions the state may have about UC expenditures,” Schwartz said.
California State Auditor Elaine Howle said she and other auditors have just begun their investigations, and, because Oropeza did not specify a completion date, she does not know when the audit will be completed.
The UC is doing its best to aid and cooperate with the auditors and will continue to do so if further questions arise in the future, Schwartz said.