Report 2010-105 Recommendation 4 Responses
Report 2010-105: University of California: Although the University Maintains Extensive Financial Records, It Should Provide Additional Information to Improve Public Understanding of Its Operations (Release Date: July 2011)
Recommendation #4 To: University of California
To help improve accountability in the university's budget process, and to help minimize the risk of unfair damage to its reputation, the university should take additional steps to increase the transparency of its budget process. Specifically, the Office of the President should continue its efforts to increase the transparency of its budget process beyond campus administrators to all stakeholders, including students, faculty, and the general public. For example, the Office of the President could make information related to its annual campus budget amounts, such as annual campus budget letters and related attachments, available on its Web site.
Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2012
The University has long provided extensive budgetary information that is accessible to students, faculty, and the general public. More recently, the University has expanded online links to ensure easy access to the wide variety of budgetary and other information that is available on the University.
The University has created a website accessed directly from the University's Office of the President home page that serves as a portal to extensive budgetary information. The site -- http://budget.universityofcalifornia.edu/ -- provides easy links to the Budget for Current Operations (http://budget.universityofcalifornia.edu/files/2011/11/2012-13_budget.pdf); a “Budget Basics” site that provides basic facts about the UC budget; sites with information on financial aid and tuition and fees; overview charts depicting UC's principal sources of funds and expenditures of core funds; and a “Myths and Facts” site that addresses a number of widely-held misconceptions about the UC budget. The portal also provides a direct link to the UC Office of Budget and Capital Resources website (http://budget.ucop.edu/). The Budget and Capital Resources site offers readily identifiable links to current and previous budgets for current operations and capital improvements. The operating and capital budget documents include a summary of each year's budget request to the State, as well as detailed information on every major area of the University's budget and appendices presenting UC's annual income and expenditures, historical information on expenditures by fund category, enrollments, and mandatory student charge levels (by category of student). The document includes a detailed Table of Contents and index for easy reference. The Budget and Capital Resources website also provides clearly labeled links to major budget presentations, including all budget-related presentations given to the Board of Regents, current and past reports submitted to the State legislature, and news updates on developments on the State and UC budgets.
The University's “Reporting Transparency” website represents another major easily-accessed portal to a great deal of additional budgetary and financial information that may be of interest to UC stakeholders and the general public. Among the 22 websites linked from this portal – at http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/reportingtransparency/ -- are links to the University's actuarial audit reports, various sites related to operating and capital improvement budgets, compensation reports, and a number of financial reports (including the University's consolidated audited financial reports, reports on benefit plans, bonds, endowments, private support from campus foundations, revenue and expense trends, and the Treasurer's Office investments). The site also provides links to extensive statistical summaries on UC students and staff and student admissions.
The “Reporting Transparency” site also links to the University's annual Accountability Report (http://accountability.universityofcalifornia.edu/) . This expansive report presents detailed data on statistical indicators over time related to many facets of the University enterprise. These indicators track data related to enrollment and budget, undergraduate student admissions, graduate academic and professional degree students, affordability, faculty and other academic employees, staff, institutional diversity, research activity, health sciences and services, teaching and learning (metrics related to quality of the academic program), research, health sciences and services, private giving, the capital improvements program and sustainability, and UC rankings.
With respect to making information such as annual allocation letters publicly accessible on the web, the University regards this statement as a possible suggestion, rather than a strict recommendation, and does not intend to post allocation letters on the web. The allocation letters represent incremental changes to campus budgets for only those programs affected by change in that particular year. As such, the letters provide a thoroughly incomplete and misleading picture of the funding for any given program. Rather than advancing transparency, these letters would be highly misunderstood by the general public and create an enormous additional workload for budget offices throughout the system as they tried to explain what everything in the allocation letters means. So many materials are now available on the web and elsewhere that give a far more complete picture of how funds are expended and, we believe, provide a far more comprehensive and understandable view of the University's budget.
- Completion Date: October 2012
California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented
Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.