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UC Berkeley Web Feature

Task force calls for 'sea change' in UC's executive-compensation policies and practices

– A nine-member task force called Thursday for a "sea change" in the UC system's executive-compensation practices and policies, recommending that the Board of Regents "immediately" begin to clean house in areas ranging from compliance with existing pay policies to punishment for violations, and from checks and balances to transparency and disclosure.

More information
• Read the full report (5Mb PDF)
• Statement by regents' chair Gerald L. Parsky
• Statement by UC President Robert C. Dynes

"Trust and confidence in the administrative leadership of the university have declined precipitously over the last six months," the report says, as "unsettling and troubling information" has been disclosed in the press. At a special regents meeting held at UCLA, several members of the panel - appointed in December by Gerald Parsky, the regents' chair, and originally expected to submit its findings on March 1 - formally presented the report, which was made available to regents and to the public less than an hour before the meeting began.

Echoing the report's often-tough language, former Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg termed the current situation "wholly unacceptable," pointing to insufficient clarity, organization, openness, and accountability, among other systemwide problems. Hertzberg, who co-chaired the task force with regent Joanne Kozberg, added that the failures are "all the more troubling" because many were identified more than 15 years ago.

The independent Task Force on UC Compensation, Accountability, and Transparency was "deeply sensitive to the need to remain competitive" with other universities, Hertzberg assured the regents. Nevertheless, neither the executive leadership nor the regents themselves "have done all they could or should to fulfill their respective or shared responsibilities."

Asserting that UC faculty and executives are "not overpaid," Hertzberg said it was "the workarounds and nondisclosures that have gotten UC into the present mess."

The report includes 21 recommendations for reversing the slide in the public's trust, addressing concerns that range from the lack of clear policies on setting and disclosing compensation packages for faculty and senior management to the lack of consequences for violating existing policies - including routine, widespread "exceptions" it calls tantamount to violations. Implementing the recommendations, it says, "will require several years to complete if done well."

The recommendations, Hertzberg said, were "expressed with a tone of urgency." Added Kozberg, "We need to move quickly to restore public confidence."

Parsky, insisting the regents "need to be careful and deliberate" and noting that additional reports are still to come, said the board would take up the task force's findings at its next regular meeting in May, following another special meeting later this month to hear the results of an audit of 32 top UC executives by an accounting firm hired by the university.

Asked if the panel's insistence that "consequences must be consequential" would apply to past violations - many of which have been acknowledged by UC's top leadership - Parsky was noncommittal. "We certainly get the message going forward," he replied, "that we need to make clear to people that violations of policy will not be tolerated."