UC Board of Regents talks state budget revision, audit progress ‘semantics’

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Joshua Jordan/File

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The UC Board of Regents meeting Wednesday highlighted the university’s progress toward implementing the state audit’s recommendations, as well as the impacts of Gov. Jerry Brown’s May budget revision.

The Compliance and Audit Committee heard a presentation from Zoanne Nelson, associate vice president for strategy and program management of the UC Office of the President, or UCOP, regarding the UC’s implementation of state audit recommendations. According to Nelson, the UC made every effort to meet the recommendations, but the requirements from the auditor were unclear, leading to a “partially implemented” status.

“I believe it is more semantics in terms of the budget and what the relationship with the 2018-19 budget would be,” Nelson said at the meeting. “We have invested time and energy to fully embrace the recommendations (and) do our best to ensure that we’re meeting them.”

One of the auditor’s recommendations to UCOP — restructuring salary ranges to ensure pay equity and encourage employee development — was deemed “partially implemented” by the state auditor because UCOP did not specifically state how it would do so, nor did UCOP show any definite progress toward narrowing salary ranges.

According to UC President Janet Napolitano, there was a disconnect between the auditor’s requirements and the deadline for presenting achievement of those requirements. Napolitano said there were several instances in which the “incomplete” tasks depended on the UC budget plan, which had not been finalized by the given deadline.

“With respect to the restructuring of salary ranges issue, I think what happened is that the auditor collapsed a 2019 deadline into 2018 (and) moved the goal post on us,” Napolitano said at the meeting. “(We should) endeavor in the future to be in even more regular contact with the auditor on that.”

Kurt Sjoberg, a partner with Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting — the firm that conducted a review of the UC’s audit implementations — said UCOP had met all 10 recommendations outlined by the auditor based on his assessment.

Brown’s May budget revision was a common topic across multiple committee meetings throughout the day. During the Public Engagement and Development Committee, UCOP Associate Vice President for State Governmental Relations Kieran Flaherty highlighted how important student involvement has been in getting the state Legislature’s support.

UC students have been traveling to Sacramento “by the dozens,” according to Flaherty, and this involvement has “raised our funding issues in the Legislature to a much higher level than they have been in the past.”

Occurring simultaneously was the state Assembly’s Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance meeting, at which the subcommittee passed the UC’s budget request of $105 million in ongoing funding and $35 million in one-time deferred maintenance funding. Funds from the budget increase would go toward buying out the potential in-state tuition and Student Services Fee hike, which was tabled in April.

At the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee meeting, David Alcocer, UCOP associate vice president for budget analysis and planning, gave a brief overview of the terms passed by the subcommittee, stating that the outcome was “above and beyond our original ask.”

“It’s been a number of years — since probably 2007-08 — since the state provided that level of funding,” Alcocer said at the meeting. “This is a welcome and positive change. … It’s not exactly what we had proposed, but better than we had originally requested.”

The Academic and Student Affairs Committee heard updates from Transfer Task Force co-chair Jim Chalfant, who presented five recommendations to the regents. According to the agenda item’s text, the recommendations were part of a memorandum of understanding signed by Napolitano and California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley.

Recommendations include guaranteed entry into UC schools for all qualified transfer students and research into transfer preparation, advising and communications once students enter the UC system to find new ways to advise incoming transfer students.

“This is about students — not faculty, not the state,” Chalfant said at the meeting.

Contact Sakura Cannestra, Harini Shyamsundar and Revati Thatte at [email protected].