At a press conference Monday, University of California Regents Chairman Gerald L. Parsky responded to an audit released yesterday of general UC compensation practices, promising that the University will abide by set policies.

The audit, compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers, details many instances in which UC regulations were not followed with regard to compensation and, furthermore, it stated that Regent approval was not sought in many of those cases. Examples include certain instances of granting automobile allowances and life and travel insurance without appropriate approval.

“In addition to the [audit’s] recommendations, the Regents have underway a consideration of a reorganization plan for the Office of the President to ensure that business management practices, not just academic performance, [are under its] jurisdiction,” Parsky said.

Along with better public disclosure, the audit recommends streamlining the process in order to document compensation, improving and increasing surveillance of policy compliance and more closely monitoring payroll data.

In a statement released Monday, April 17, UC President Robert C. Dynes suggested appointing an interim systemwide Public Information Practices Coordinator whose responsibility it would be to respond to all requests for public records.

After the audit was presented to the Regents at UCLA yesterday, Parsky acknowledged the University’s previous misconduct in violating compensation regulations.

“If [the Regents] can’t defend all compensation paid, then [they] shouldn’t be providing compensation,” Parksy said. “However, this presentation was not intended in any way to pass judgment in any way on anything that was done, other than to recognize that certain things were not in compliance with policy.”

Parsky outlined what may happen the next time a violation occurs.

“The consequences fall into several categories,” Parsky said. “One consequence for failing to comply [with regulations] will be to change policy so that voluntary compliance won’t be the framework for the future. There also [may be] consequences in terms of what individuals will need to be approved for purposes of policy in the future.

Parsky also said that the Regents would ask for Dynes’ input. “With respect to disciplinary action, we want to hear and have asked that the president come forth [at the] May Regents meeting and offer his explanation, and if he believes there [should be] consequences, we will decide whether or not disciplinary consequences will be appropriate.”

During the press conference, Parsky emphasized the University’s need to maintain academic superiority while undergoing the reform process.

“The primary focus of the University is academic quality; we need to show that we care about the business management side of it, too,” Parsky said. “But we need to make sure we don’t lose sight of [this] primary goal.”

In last week’s statement, Dynes also said he would begin a series of actions to reform eight problematic areas of UC structure, including revamping information systems, such as payroll data, to start a “modern, comprehensive, integrated human resources information system” that would allow data to be examined and analyzed quickly in accordance with standards of public accountability.

Referencing the recent findings of the Task Force on UC Compensation, Accountability, and Transparency, Dynes said last week that he wants to work with the Regents to “create a standardized reporting form for use by the Regents and for releasing [compensation-related decisions] to the public,” and increase transparency by creating an “easily searchable and accessible” website. He also said he wants to implement an internal tracking system to ensure the University is meeting requirements for compensation reporting.

“I have heard the Task Force loud and clear: Major change is required, and we need to begin implementing that change immediately,” Dynes said in the statement.

According to Dynes’ statement, UC’s current Senior Vice President Bruce B. Darling will now serve as the administration’s “official liaison” to the Regents regarding compensation matters, and the University will now fund and implement mandatory ethics training for all UC employees, “which will include communications about existing whistleblower programs and anti-retaliation policies.”

However, Dynes did not specify where the money for these ethics training courses would come from, nor did he specify when they would commence or what content would be presented in them.

“These [reforms] represent just the beginning of a long process for the University of California to improve its compensation policies and practices,” Dynes said. “As the task force stated so clearly and well, the challenges laid out in its report will require several years to complete. But the time to start is now.”

Parsky echoed Dynes’ concern for public accountability.

“All of the elements about compensation should have been brought forward, should have been available to the public,” Parsky said.