UC Task Force Decries University Perk Policies

Without pointing to specific individuals, a task force exploring UC compensation practices came down hard on university accountability standards last week.

The group — headed by co-Chairs Regent Joanne Kozberg and former State Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg — was enlisted to scrutinize the university system’s pay methods, after it doled out more than $800 million in undisclosed perks to its employees in 2004, according to a series of articles by the San Francisco Chronicle.

However, university officials have disputed the amount of compensation distributed. UC President Robert C. Dynes and UC Board of Regents Chairman Gerald L. Parsky have admitted, however, that the university can do better in making its pay more transparent.

The task force held a teleconference last week, when it released the report detailing ways that the university erred and possible solutions.

At the conference, the task force harshly criticized UC officials’ lack of adherence to systemwide policies.

“It is clear that the current situation is wholly unacceptable,” Hertzberg said. “Neither the executives nor the board have done all they could have done to fulfill their responsibilities.”

Enforcing UC policies may be difficult, task force members said, as there are currently no clear policies regarding transparency of compensation.

“For the university to fulfill its responsibilities as a public trust, there must be an institutional commitment to public disclosure,” the task force wrote in its recommendations to the regents. “This commitment must be codified in disclosure policies that are clearly and broadly communicated, both internally and externally.”

Policies remain confusing, and many times conflict with each other, Kozberg said.

The task force’s report steered away from laying blame on specific administrators.

However, the group did recommend the implementation of a system to enforce policies.

“At the heart of these recommendations, we need to identify a range of consequences for violating policy … from reprimand to dismissal,” Parsky said.

Task force members were adamant about current levels of compensation, and said employees were not being overpaid.

The statement echoed remarks made earlier this year by Dynes, who said that certain levels of compensation are needed to attract good faculty and staff.

“For UC to best serve the people of California, the task force believes that the university must remain in the top tier of the world’s research universities,” the task force wrote. “To maintain this level of distinction, it must be able to provide its faculty, administrators and staff a level of compensation that is competitive with that offered by universities in its peer group.”

An independent audit commissioned by the university will be released April 24.

State auditors are also conducting an investigation into the system’s compensation policies.