Audit finds ‘wasteful’ spending by UC employee

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A recent California State Auditor’s report, which investigated matters such as bribery, conspiracy to commit fraud and improper overtime pay, singled out an employee at the UC Office of the President for receiving what it calls “wasteful” reimbursement for travel expenses.

The Investigations of Improper Activities by State Agencies and Employees report was released Tuesday and stated that the university had reimbursed an employee around $6,100 between 2008 and 2011 for “wasteful” travel expenses. Though the report does not name the university employee explicitly, UC spokesperson Dianne Klein stated that the employee is David Ernst, CIO and associate vice president for information technology. The report continues to cite a number of his expenses it deemed excessive, including a business entertainment expense and “wasteful parking expenses.”

Ernst was previously the audited when he was an employee of the California State University system, which identified “wasteful travelling reimbursement” totaling more than $152,000.

That initial review was issued in December of 2009, after Ernst had already switched from the CSU system to the UC system in 2008, according to state auditor’s office spokesperson Margarita Fernandez.

The university was aware of that ongoing audit before it hired Ernst, according to Klein.

After the release of the 2009 report, the university has become more stringent in monitoring Ernst’s travel expenses, according to this year’s report. This report cited the hiring of a permanent new supervisor in 2010 as a key improvement to the university’s oversight.

The report criticizes the university for lacking well-defined limitations for lodging expenses, which contributed to a portion of the $6,100 incurred. According to Fernandez, the state auditor’s office has offered recommendations to the university, including revising policies to more clearly define limitations on lodging costs, collecting some reimbursements from Ernst and setting a policy specific for parking expenses.

Klein said that she did not know enough about the recent reimbursement issue to issue a statement on the university’s behalf.

The report concludes that the university intends to seek reimbursement from Ernst for the expenses identified by the report and any additional expenses it may find.

Fernandez added that Ernst will be leaving the university at the end of this year, though the reasons for this have not yet been publicized.

Contact Aliyah Mohammed at [email protected]