National Beat Reporter
Emails between the Office of the President and UC administrations have revealed undisclosed communication that contradicts President Janet Napolitano’s denial that the UCOP interfered with the state audit. Earlier this month, the audit reported that the UCOP had withheld $175 million in reserve funds.
California State Auditor Elaine Howle concluded that the Office of the President “intentionally interfered” with the audit process when state investigators reached out to individual campuses on the quality and programs provided by the Office of the President.
The audit, released two weeks ago, reported that the UCOP had accrued $175 million in reserve funds, including $32 million that could have been allocated towards students and UC campuses.
Napolitano testified that the electronic communications between her staff and UC officials were in response to requests for additional assistance in complying with the audit’s investigation.
In a letter to UC administration, the state auditor explicitly prohibited campus officials from sharing information from “others outside of your campus.”
The emails revealed continued efforts by Napolitano’s office to review the responses and information that the UC campuses provided to state officials. In October, an email from a UCSF administrator suggested that Napolitano’s office should conduct a conference call to ensure the consistency in terms of the information they were providing, with no mention of requesting the UCOP to review the responses.
According to the emails acquired by The San Francisco Chronicle, there were several instances where UC campus officials showed their responses to the Office of the President upon their requests to “check-in” on their information.
In some cases, campus officials released their responses to the auditor prior to UCOP’s requests and apologized to Napolitano’s staff for not checking in with them first.
UC Santa Cruz even rescinded their response to the auditor, allegedly at Napolitano’s request.
“Per your conversation with [the campus] Chancellor earlier today, we have already started the recall process of the State Audit Survey,” wrote Ashish Sahni, a UC Santa Cruz associate chancellor, to Napolitano in a November email. This correspondence was copied to Napolitano’s staff members and UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal.
Several of the campuses’ responses were disregarded in the audit’s findings since they were reviewed by Napolitano’s office before being given to the auditor. According to Howle, some of these responses reflected “a more positive view of UC leadership.”
Napolitano’s disputed Howle’s charges on response tampering, claiming that her office’s involvement was made in efforts to “coordinate the collection and transmission of accurate information.”
According to UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein, campuses called Napolitano’s office and asked for help, stating that the “task was overwhelming and the campuses wanted some guidance.”
UC Board of Regents member Monica Lozano stated that the board will investigate these claims of response manipulation but still had “confidence in [Napolitano’s] leadership.”
Previously, Napolitano and her office said that they would be accepting many of the recommendations from the state audit. In a conference call with UC student publications last week, Napolitano defended the $175 million reserve.
“That is a prudent reserve given the contingencies and emergent circumstances that can arise between the time our annual budget is reviewed and approved by the Regents,” she said on the phone.