An investigation into outgoing Chancellor Nicholas Dirks’ misuse of public funds, which revealed he failed to pay $4,990, cost the university a total of $57,671 to carry out — more than 10 times the cost of the misused funds — according to invoice documents obtained by The Daily Californian.
The UC Office of the President hired the independent firm Public Interest Investigations, Inc., based out of Los Angeles, to conduct the investigation in April 2016, as previously reported by the Daily Cal.
When asked why the investigation cost as much as it did, UCOP cited an effort to be comprehensive.
“Our aim was to conduct a fair and thorough investigation. Without a similar investigation, it would be difficult to do a comparison or characterize the costs,” said UCOP spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez in an email.
Campus had no involvement in the investigation, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof, and therefore had no comment on the investigation’s cost.
In order to obtain this information, Public Interest Investigations, Inc., investigated over five months, from May to September 2016, for a total of 279 billed hours at $200 an hour. In addition to billed hours, Public Interest Investigations, Inc., included receipts for airfare, parking, restaurants, Lyft rides and hotels used by Keith Rohman, president of Public Interest Investigations, Inc., as he traveled back and forth from Los Angeles to Oakland.
According to the investigation, Dirks failed to pay for a campus gym membership and personal training sessions over two years. The investigation also found Dirks used a campus Precor Cross Trainer exercise machine in his home. The membership and personal training sessions came to $4,990, while the machine was found to be valued between $3,500 and $4,000, according to the investigation.
Dirks began his tenure in 2013 and resigned in August 2016, after extensive public scrutiny over his handling of campus sexual misconduct and the then-alleged misuse of public funds.
Public Interest Investigations, Inc., “has been helping businesses, law firms, educational institutions, and governmental entities uncover the facts for more than 30 years,” according to its website.
Public Interest Investigations, Inc., does not comment on investigations in the press, said Rohman in an email.
According to the firm’s website, Rohman is a recognized expert in the field of investigation and “has been involved in many high-profile cases,” including litigation related to the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the trial against Los Angeles police officers accused of beating Rodney King.
Billed hours included items such as travel time, witness interviews, records requests, reviewing notes, evidence reports and analyzing emails. Conferences and interviews with UCOP staff were conducted at the start of the investigation.
According to the invoices, Rohman traveled north for the investigation via Southwest Airlines on three separate occasions, each flight costing more than $400.