Janet Napolitano Catches Heat From UC Board of Regents

Lester Mason
November 18, 2017

The University of California's governing board chastised UC President Janet Napolitano in a rare rebuke and asked her to apologize for her office's interference in a state audit past year.

Napolitano said she is grateful for the regents' continued support and intends to reach out to the state legislature to try to re-establish good relationships.

The investigation finds that officials in the president's office instructed UC campuses not to "air dirty laundry" to the state auditor, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which reviewed the report ahead of its public release on Thursday.

A state audit in April found that Napolitano kept $175 million in a secret fund used to pay out bonuses and retirement benefits to a small number of university administrators, far in excess to what other similarly ranked state employees received.

During a closed session to discuss "personnel matters" related to the report that lasted for almost five hours, Napolitano faced questions from the regents about her office's handling of the audit and the regents - at times with Napolitano not in the room - debated what consequences she should face as reporters and students waited outside, dwindling in number as the hours ticked by. But the Board of Regents spent five hours discussing her role in approving a plan regarding the survey responses, which led to delays in a state audit of her office. "I apologize", Napolitano said in a public apology the University's Board of Regents directed her to give. "She has not taken full responsibility - and she has not been completely forthright with the committee".

The clear intention was to prevent negative reviews of the Office of the President's performance from getting back to the state auditor, with one campus employee telling investigators that "the pressure couldn't be any more obvious".

Napolitano said at the special regents meeting that she accepted the results of the board's investigation, as well as the actions the board has taken in response.

Three of UC's ten campuses proactively edited out negative comments in their surveys before sending them to Napolitano's office for review. "Many of us are angry and very disturbed and disappointed at the actions of parties involved".

The regents directed Napolitano to examine the culture within UCOP that may have contributed to audit interference. Between Oct. 20 and Oct. 25, 2016, Napolitano's then-chief of staff Seth Grossman and then-deputy chief of staff Bernie Jones exchanged texts, emails and phone calls regarding how to respond to the surveys.

Kieffer said the regents will approve policies prohibiting interference with audits and investigations by the State Auditor at their January meeting.

"That is a decision the UC Board of Regents needs to make", he said, "but as far as I'm concerned, President Napolitano and her top aides violated AB 562".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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