State audit slams Janet Napolitano’s office of University of California president

Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California, is not only missing in action as her premier campus is embroiled in a free speech crisis and threatened mob violence, she has run an operation that just received a scathing audit. Patrick McGreevy of the Los Angeles Times reports:

 The administration of the University of California system pays top workers salaries and benefits significantly higher than that of similar state employees, and failed to disclose to the Board of Regents and the public that it had $175 million in budget reserve funds while it was seeking to raise tuition, a state audit found Tuesday.

The audit triggered a dispute with UC President Janet Napolitano, who said charges of hidden funds were false…. (snip)

The audit of the Office of the President also found that it failed to satisfactorily justify its spending on system-wide initiatives and “inappropriately” screened surveys submitted by auditors to campus officials.

This latter point – “screening” surveys of the auditors as they attempted to gather information from subordinates of Napolitano sounds suspiciously like attempting to cover up facts from the auditors.  State auditor Elaine Howell wrote:

… when we sought independent perspective from campuses about the quality and cost of the services and programs the Office of the President provides to them, the Office of the President intentionally interfered with our audit process,” Howle wrote.

This sort of interference in uncovering evidence in a legal case would be subject to court sanction, and would be a signal to prosecutors to dig deeper over presumed wrongdoing. But this is a state audit, answerable to the state legislature, a one-party body that has no interest in reform at any state institution that provides substantial campaign donations to Democrats.

So outraged was the auditor that:

The auditor said that because of recent tuition hikes, she recommends the Office of the President should refund available funds in the reserves by returning them to the campuses for the benefit of students.

In the private sector, this sort of practice is called a “claw-back” – forcing the disgorgement of unjustly accumulated funds, as in, for instance, securities fraud. But in the public sector, no criminal penalties seem to apply, because public employees are all angels, or something.

The angels working for Janet Napolitano are certainly benefitting:

Auditors said salaries paid to those in the president's office are much higher than the pay of comparable positions in other state government jobs. (snip)

Administrative salaries amounted to $2.5 million more than the maximum annual salary ranges for comparable state employees, auditors found.

For instance, an accounting manager’s maximum annual salary is $169,000 at UC compared to $156,000 for other state employees.

An information system manager can make $258,000 with UC, but $150,000 with other state agencies.

The audit said: “10 executives in the Office of the President whose compensation we analyzed were paid a total of $3.7 million in fiscal year 2014-15 — over $700,000 more than the combined salaries of their highest paid state employee counterparts.”

On benefits, the Office of the President provided a regular retirement plan but also offered its executives a retirement savings account into which the office contributes up to 5% of the executives’ salaries—about $2.5 million over the past five years, the audit found.

“The Office of the President also spent more than $2 million for its staff’s business meetings and entertainment expenses over the past five years—a benefit that the State does not offer to its employees except in limited circumstances,” the audit said.

Wow, $2 million for meetings and entertainment over 5 years equals $400,000 per year, presumably for the “10 executives.” So $40k per year in meetings and entertainment expenses per executive per year. Why do I suspect a lot of those meetings were in Bali or at least Bal Harbour?

The practices discovered by the auditor would be troubling if Napolitano ran a tight ship and the university were flourishing. But the fact is that she has been entirely in default as the university has spun into crisis. It is now known worldwide for tolerating mob rule that prevents conservative voices from being heard. She should be fired for this, but of course, she will not be.