Sunday, March 23, 2014

Listen to the Regents: March 19, 2014 afternoon session

We continue our coverage of the most recent set of Regents meetings.  The Committee on Grounds and Buildings approved a seismic replacement of a Berkeley building.  Some of the discussion revolved around the change in financing of state-sponsored capital projects.  Because UC has a better credit rating than the state (even despite recent downgrades), UC now finances (borrows) for such projects and is reimbursed by the state, with a net interest cost saving.  On the other hand, as the UC debt increases, UC's credit rating may deteriorate.  Although concerns were expressed by Regents, in the end (of course) they approved the new building.

A new biological and physical science building was effectively approved.  In principle, the Regents approved only $4.5 million for preliminary work of a building to cost $112 million eventually.  But once preliminary work is approved, the full project inevitably follows.  It is apparent from the discussion that as long as a building is for science and tech, the Regents like it.

As an example, for UCLA the Regents approved an engineering building.  This one relies on $72.7 million in gifts, most of which has yet to be raised.  When Regents asked what happens if the money isn't forthcoming, Chancellor Block assured them that he was confident it would be raised.  No problemo, as a former governor once said in an earlier career.

The Committee on Compliance and Audit heard a report from a new auditor, KPMG.  There was a lengthy discussion with a new VP for IT about IT security and other issues.  He kept pointing to problems that resulted from the fact that each campus had its own systems.  Of course, if you are in the UC headquarters, there is a tendency to want more influence over what goes on at the campus level.  Since total control from on top is not feasible, the call was more for "collaboration" among the campuses rather than centralized control.

Finally, various internal audits were discussed.  There was supposed to be a closed session of the Committee following the open session.  But apparently it was canceled.

The audio is at the link below:

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