Investigation finds UC President’s Aides Interfered in Audit of her Office
According to an investigative report released earlier this month, officials in the University of California president’s office improperly interfered with a state audit of UC finances, instructed campuses not to “air dirty laundry” in an audit survey, and misled the regents about why they did it. An independent investigation by former state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno into audit tampering revealed that two top executives in UC President Janet Napolitano’s office directed the interference and oversaw changes to confidential survey answers from three campuses to put UC headquarters in a better light. The two top executives, Chief of Staff Seth Grossman and his deputy Bernie Jones, also sought to keep the matter secret by warning each other by text messages to keep communications “off of email.” Moreno’s investigators claim that Napolitano’s staff required the campuses to show them their survey responses, then changed or deleted some answers to make her office look better. Investigators stated,
While some (campus vice chancellors) contacted UC officials in Oakland to inform them they had received the surveys, there is no evidence that any (campus vice chancellors) expressed ‘confusion’ to UC senior leaders… .
The report also found that a third UC executive, Deputy General Counsel Karen Petrulakis, offered her own survey revisions, but she also recommended that UC officials inform the state auditor that they were changing survey answers that were supposed to be confidential responses from campuses. Petrulakis ended up leaving the UC in July and Grossman, along with Jones, resigned earlier this month. Moreno’s 65-page report makes it clear that it points no finger of blame at Napolitano. A new California law, prompted by the UC controversy, goes into effect Jan. 1st and imposes a $5,000 fine on agencies that interfere with a state audit. The new law will hopefully deter agencies from interfering with a state audit and insure better government transparency.