Another State Audit, More Criticism of UC Practices

UC President Janet Napolitano's office has once again come under fire. (Image Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Arturo Samaniego
National Beat Reporter

The University of California Office of the President has come under fire once again over questionable practices revealed by a new state audit released on Aug. 24. This time around, criticism leveled against the UC regards an alleged “lack of transparency” by the UCOP for not informing UC regents about budgeting issues and delays with the UC payroll system updates.

The original plan, as put forward by the UCOP, intended to replace the decades-old legacy system with The University of California Payroll, Academic Personnel, Timekeeping, and Human Resources system, better known as the UCPath. Under the legacy system, the UC is operating 11 different payroll and human resources systems, while under UCPath, these 11 systems would be integrated into one system.

When UCPath was being pushed by the UCOP in 2011, the estimated cost for implementing the system was $170 million, but with an additional cost the price was increased to $306 million. The UCOP had estimated that the project would be completed by August 2014.

As time has gone on, the price for UCPath has continued to rise; the newest cost estimate by the UCOP now stands at $504 million and is not expected to be implemented until June 2019. The audit, however, estimates that additional costs could cause the project to have up to a $942 million price tag.

The audit also reveals that the $703 million in cost savings estimated by the UCOP in 2011 will not occur. The cost savings were originally contributed to staffing reductions at campuses. However, the audit states that campuses do not expect to make staff reductions and the auditors were told by the UC Project director “that the Office of the President no longer expects to realize those projected savings.”

Much of the audit’s criticism of UCPath dealt with the Office of the President’s failure to keep regents informed on the increasing cost of the system and delays in its implementation. The audit notes that “the Office of the President has only rarely apprised the regents of schedule and budget changes.” As the audit states, this failure in communication has not allowed the regents “to participate in critical project decisions.”

The UCOP now works to update the regents on cost increases and delays for UCPath, but the audit claims that this does not go far enough to engage the regents in making important decisions for the system.

Despite the criticism aimed at the UC by the audit, the office of the President has responded positively. As reported by SFGate, Clara Doan, a spokesperson for UC President Janet Napolitano, said the office views the three state audits released in the past two years primarily as “constructive feedback.”

The UC has shown a willingness to follow the audit’s recommendations, Doan told SFGate. The latest recommendations provided by the audit call for improved reporting to the UC Regents, as well as more realistic scheduling and better assessments of completed campus projects.