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Lawmakers grill UC President Napolitano over ‘extremely troubling’ audit(2)

2017-06-16 04:05 [NEWS] Source:Netword
Guide:University of California president Janet Napolitano during a joint legislative oversight hearing on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. A state audit found the

University of California president Janet Napolitano during a joint legislative oversight hearing on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. A state audit found the ... more

Photo: Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle

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Parker Spadaro silently protests the UC president at a joint hearing at the California State Capitol on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. A state audit found UC president Janet Napolitano's office collected at least $175 million in secret reserve funds. less

Parker Spadaro silently protests the UC president at a joint hearing at the California State Capitol on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. A state audit found UC president Janet Napolitano's office ... more

Photo: Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle

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From left: Kevin McCarty and Catherine Baker during a joint legislative oversight hearing on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.

From left: Kevin McCarty and Catherine Baker during a joint legislative oversight hearing on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif.

Photo: Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle

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California State Auditor Elaine M. Howle at a joint hearing at the California State Capitol on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. A state audit found UC president Janet Napolitano's office collected at least $175 million in secret reserve funds. less

California State Auditor Elaine M. Howle at a joint hearing at the California State Capitol on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. A state audit found UC president Janet Napolitano's office collected at ... more

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State Auditor Elaine Howle (right) listens to UC President Janet Napolitano testify at a legisla tive hearing on Howle’s audit that found a secret $175 million fund in Napolitano’s office.

State Auditor Elaine Howle (right) listens to UC President Janet Napolitano testify at a legisla tive hearing on Howle’s audit that found a secret $175 million fund in Napolitano’s office.

Photo: Santiago Mejia, The Chronicle

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Lawmakers grill UC President Napolitano over ‘extremely troubling’ audit

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SACRAMENTO — State lawmakers grilled University of California President Janet Napolitano on Tuesday, saying they found a state audit “extremely troubling,” and questioned whether there is enough oversight of the president’s office.

Lawmakers said they were shocked by the audit released last week, which found UC has a $175 million reserve that no one seemed to be aware of, including the Board of Regents that oversees the university system. But many lawmakers said what disturbed them the most was the state auditor’s contention that the president’s office interfered with and delayed their efforts. For that, Napolitano defended her office, but said she was sorry its actions were perceived as obstruction.

“I deeply believe the trust that has existed between the Legislature and UC has been eroded and that much more transparency is needed,” said Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, one of three committees holding the joint hearing on the audit at the state Capitol on Tuesday.

The hearing lasted 4½ hours, with Napolitano leaving visibly exhausted after her two-plus hours of testimony.

“To say this is a black eye on the UC is an understatement,” Medina added.

Among the audit’s findings were that the president’s office hid $175 million in an undisclosed reserve of restricted and discretionary funds as of June 2016. Included in that was $32 million that could have been spent on students, with the audit recommending that those funds be returned to campuses.

The disclosure of that money comes as UC will raise annual student charges beginning next summer by $336, or nearly 3 percent, to $12,630. That includes tuition and a student services fee, which are expected to raise $143 million next year for the UC system.

The undisclosed money accumulated after the president’s office continually overestimated how much it needed to run the 10-campus system, then spent less than budgeted, according to the audit. Auditors said that during 2012 to 2016, the president’s office asked for additional funding using the inflated budgets instead of basing its requests on what was actually spent. That allowed the office to amass a secret reserve that was spent on things like communications and brand management ($4.7 million), the president’s residence ($862,000) and nonresident recruiting ($1.8 million).

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