SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California's state auditor is briefing the governing board of the University of California Thursday on findings that UC administrators hid $175 million in a secret reserve fund even as the system raised tuition and sought more public funding.
Auditor Elaine Howle says her office found murky budgeting practices in the office of UC President Janet Napolitano that failed to track expenditures and explain decision-making. Howle also criticized the president's office for intentionally interfering with the audit by screening survey responses of individual campuses.
"We saw enough interference that we could not rely on the results," she said.
Napolitano has apologized for the way her office handled the investigation but disputed findings that her office hid $175 million. She said much of the money is committed to system-wide university programs, leaving a much smaller amount —about $38 million— in reserves for unexpected expenses.
Still, the university system has committed to implementing the audit's recommendations.
The audit drew bipartisan legislative ire and prompted California Gov. Jerry Brown to withhold $50 million from the UC system's budget to "hold their feet to the fire."
The governing board of one of the most prestigious public university systems in the country also is scheduled to vote on a proposal to cap out-of-state undergraduate enrollment at 18 percent.
This is a controversial subject for a public university system that benefits from higher out-of-state tuition but hears complaints from California undergraduates who say they are being squeezed from coveted spots by wealthier nonresidents.
State lawmakers last year withheld $18.5 million unless the system adopted a cap.
Four popular campuses that currently exceed the 18 percent cap will be allowed a higher cap pegged to next year's enrollment. Those campuses include UC Berkeley at 24 percent; UC San Diego and UCLA at 23 percent; and UC Irvine at 19 percent.