Trivial Pursuit?

The California State Auditor examines the accounts of state agencies including UC.  Chapter 8 of its latest report focuses on an unnamed administrator who came from CSU and apparently misspent travel funds there to the tune of over $150,000 before arriving at UC.  When this problem at CSU became known, UC tightened up the oversight of the administrator’s UC travel.  Nevertheless, the auditor found a few thousand dollars in improperly charged UC travel expenses.
From Chapter 8:
…In October 2012 the university reported that it intends to seek reimbursement from the official for the wasteful expenses identified in this report. In addition, the university stated that it has reviewed the official’s most recent expenses for fiscal year 2011–12 and that it would seek reimbursement from the official for any additional improper expenses it finds. Further, the university stated that the official is leaving university employment at the end of 2012.  In responding to the four policyrelated recommendations, the university stated that it is prepared to explore ways to strengthen its expense policies and procedures. Consequently, the university stated that it has assigned an individual to work with the systemwide campus controllers to analyze the recommendations and determine the feasibility of adopting the recommendations into applicable university policy.
I had the impression – back in the day when I headed on ORU – that university accounting procedures were designed to prevent you from stealing less than $50.  Great efforts were spent on trivia.  Big problems went undetected unless a scandal came to light.  The auditor’s report reminds me of that impression.  UC has a $22 billion budget.  An entire chapter of this report goes into the travel problems of one official – albeit one who had probably set a record of travel overcharges at his prior employer (CSU).  [The hiring process by which UC acquired the unnamed official is not discussed.]  As we have noted in earlier posts, the University has a huge capital budget which proceeds with only nominal oversight by the Regents. Even a champion at travel expense padding would have a hard time running up bills that could compare with potential capital expense missteps.
You can read the report at the link below.  Scroll to chapter 8 for the UC segment.

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