Thursday, July 18

Following UCOP controversy, state bill may outlaw audit interference

California state legislators are considering proposing legislation making it illegal to interfere with a state auditor investigation.

Assembly members Al Muratsuchi, who represents part of Los Angeles’ South Bay region, and Phil Ting, who represents parts of western San Francisco and northern San Mateo County, announced the potential legislation Tuesday.

“This is to give the state auditor the necessary tools to make sure that we are holding all public agencies accountable by making sure that they cooperate with the state auditor,” Muratsuchi told The Sacramento Bee.

He declined to comment further on a timeline for the bill’s introduction or potential punishments for interfering with state audits.

The legislation comes after University of California President Janet Napolitano apologized at a legislative hearing May 2 for the UC Office of the President screening campus surveys for a state audit. State Auditor Elaine Howle sent the surveys to campuses for an independent assessment of UCOP’s services, though communication between UCOP and campus officials showed UCOP altered campus responses to reflect more positively on the UC.

Napolitano said her office wanted to ensure campuses provided Howle with accurate information, but said campus auditors would directly communicate with the state auditor in most cases.

Other lawmakers have expressed concern with the audit’s findings.

According to the Los Angeles Times, on May 2, six Republican state legislators called on the Committee on Rules to subpoena UCOP records to investigate whether the UC’s budget practices, as the state auditor described in her report, broke any laws.

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