Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Enough with the outrage!

We recently reproduced an editorial from the San Francisco Chronicle complaining about the UC prez and her role in the state audit scandal.* Now a similar (copycat?) editorial has appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune.** But one editorial was sufficient. And here's a somewhat different take from yours truly on the scandal.

All large bureaucracies are self-protective. Public, private, it doesn't matter. And in all bureaucracies, the ultimate rule for getting ahead is "please your boss." So that's what happened. The UC prez was already upset with the state auditor's previous encounters with UC. Her underlings knew it. So they proceeded accordingly.

What about the chancellors whose critical comments about UCOP were changed to be positive? Chancellors chafe at being under UCOP; they want more autonomy. So it's not surprising that UCOP's sloppy interventions came to light. UCOP's underlings weren't very good at their attempts to please their boss. And the chancellors and their underlings had an incentive to let what they had done be known.

However, on a scale of bureaucratic misdeeds, this one was maybe a 5 on a scale of 10. UC has more serious issues long term that have to do with funding, state support, etc. I won't reproduce the Union-Tribune editorial, but one sentence from it stands out:

"...(State Auditor) Howle told the Legislature in May that in 17 years as state auditor, she’d never seen such improper behavior from an agency she was reviewing..."

Maybe that's so. Maybe Howle was rightly shocked and appalled and UC's behavior was unique. But maybe it means that the other agencies which she audited over 17 years were just better at covering their tracks. Maybe the other agencies are more cohesive than the UC system with its autonomy-seeking campuses and chancellors. Maybe UC's behavior is less unique than Howle appreciates.

Anyway, enough with the newspaper outrage. The UC prez has done her requisite groveling apology, which we have also previously reproduced, complete with video.*** There is no more there there to be had than we already have. Time to move on.

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