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Regents, President Dynes let the sunshine in
New and revised compensation guidelines were announced last week - along with plans for the public posting of salary data for all UC employees

| 27 September 2006

With the rhetorical fireworks over executive compensation seemingly behind them, the UC Board of Regents and President Robert Dynes last week took a number of steps into a new era of openness - including a plan to post salary information electronically, not just for top managers but for all UC employees.

A two-day meeting of the regents in San Francisco, their first of the academic year, was the setting for the announcement of a series of reforms aimed at addressing the findings of a nine-member task force that called in April for a "sea change" in the UC system's practices and policies regarding executive pay. That panel, appointed the previous December by regents chair Gerald Parsky, found that "trust and confidence in the administrative leadership of the university have declined precipitously" as a result of disclosures over the Office of the President's failure to report fully on all aspects of senior managers' salaries, benefits, and perks, either to the public or, in many cases, to the regents themselves.

In addition to the task force's report, Dynes acknowledged three separate audits of the UC system's practices in announcing the changes in his office. "While none of the reviews indicated excessive compensation levels, they all pointed to a variety of operational shortcomings in the way senior management compensation, benefits, and related matters are approved, monitored, and reported," he said. "These reforms are aimed at swiftly and permanently correcting these problems so they never happen again."

Among the changes is a new requirement that whenever the university makes an exception to existing compensation policy - a frequent occurrence in recent years - the exception must be documented, explained, and reported on a regular basis to a newly established chief compliance and audit officer, a UC vice president who may report irregularities to the president and the regents. Dynes said in February that exceptions to policy for senior managers' compensation would require his personal approval, and that rule will remain in effect for now.

The board also took steps toward creating or clarifying guidelines governing such areas as administrative and sabbatical leave, oversight of travel and entertainment expenditures, and the perception in some quarters that violations or abuses of university policies carry no consequences. Dynes proposed amending the regents' 1993 statement of principles on executive compensation to state that "any serious violation" could lead to "adverse employment action" including "censure, counseling, suspension, loss of pay, and/or dismissal from the employ of the university."

And while the regents approved a plan to provide more detailed disclosure of compensation for highly paid managers, the new emphasis on openness will extend to the system's lowest-paid workers as well, and to everyone in between. In addition to providing basic salary information for all UC employees on request - as required under the California Public Records Act - the university will proactively post, on a public website, an annual report of compensation for every university employee, listing his or her name, date of hire, position title, and base salary.

The action, which follows an April recommendation of the Task Force on UC Compensation, Accountability, and Transparency, "reflects a commitment on the part of the president and the Board of Regents to increased transparency," said Paul Schwartz, a spokesperson in the Office of the President. Although it hasn't yet been decided exactly where the salary information will be posted, Schwartz said it would "live on a public website," probably in the human-resources section of the UCOP site.

The annual report will include a section devoted exclusively to executive compensation, with more detailed information than that for the larger workforce, such as benefits and perks.

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