Bolt on Bloat

10/3/2010: Greg Bolt has a few articles today on the athletic department budget (Mullens’s report is here), including one on how little data Jamie Moffitt and Rob Mullens are willing to provide the press.

Here are some additional spreadsheets, that include somewhat more detailed breakdowns of revenue and expenses than that in the article:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/971644/uomatters/athletics/ad%20sports%2011%2010%2009.xls
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/971644/uomatters/athletics/ad%20sports%2010%2005%2001.xls
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/971644/uomatters/athletics/ad%20operations%2010%2005%2001.xls
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/971644/uomatters/athletics/ad%20operation%2011%2010%209.xls
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/971644/uomatters/athletics/jock%20box%2011%2010%2009.xls
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/971644/uomatters/athletics/jock%20box%2010%2005%2001.xls

Much more detail – down to the individual transaction – should be available when the Senate’s Financial Transparency reporting tool is available. When will that be? After Nathan Tublitz’s UO Senate motion passed in May 2009, Frances Dyke sent out this memo:

 
This project is now more than a year late. A crippleware version is available through duckweb – that’s where the spreadsheets above come from. There has been a long list of excuses for the failure to remove the restrictions on what the duckweb tool provides. 
Now the people in charge of it just shrug. Personally I don’t think what Frances Dyke agreed to will ever see the light of day, regardless of President Lariviere’s calls for transparency. The athletic department simply has too much to hide.

Senate Meeting

4/18/2010: I missed the Wed Senate meeting but have heard a few reports:

First, Pres Lariviere appeared and made a brief statement about transparency. Leaving Melinda Grier and her lackey Doug Park in charge of public records has been a disaster for UO. Now that it has led to embarrassment for Larviere over the Bellotti contract he is pushing for more transparency. Apparently RG reporter Greg Bolt made 3 public records requests to Grier and Park for the Bellotti contract. They ignored these, and never told Lariviere that people were asking to see a written contract and it did not exist. The result was pretty bad for the credibility of President Lariviere and therefore bad for UO. When he goes to the legislature or the OUS board to argue for UO, this is what everyone is going to remember: $2.3 million on a vague promise from a booster, and his staff hid it from him for a year. Does he know what’s going on this time?

So Lariviere is now planning a revision to UO’s policies and practices. We are trying to get the details – which should be a public record!

Second, Brad Shelton announced the new budget model is moving ahead and will be implemented starting in July. It seems from this and other signs that Frances Dyke is no longer pulling the strings.

Contracts for UO’s senior administrators are up for renewal July 1 and discussions are already underway. So we will know soon if Lariviere is going to make substantive changes at UO, or take the easy way out and keep Frohnmayer’s team on until they slowly fade away. At this point he can hardly argue that he’s surprised by how they run the place.

Attorney General reviews Lariviere’s deal with Bellotti

3/29/2010: More on the verbal contract is here. Rachel Bachman of the Oregonian reports:

The Oregon Department of Justice is reviewing the resignation agreement between Mike Bellotti and the University of Oregon, a handshake-based deal that calls for $2.3 million in payments to the former Oregon athletic director.

The agreement was first reported by the Eugene Register-Guard on March 19, the day Bellotti announced he was leaving to take a job at ESPN. Oregon president Richard Lariviere signed it that day; Bellotti had signed it March 16.

Bellotti, who was to be paid $675,000 annually, did not have a written contract during the nine months he spent as athletic director. The departure agreement apparently also was unwritten until shortly before Bellotti resigned.

“A lot of issues, that among them, have been raised in the media,” said spokesman Tony Green of the Oregon Department of Justice. “At this point the attorney general doesn’t have any firsthand information about it, so that’s the purpose of the review.”  

 Mark Baker of the RG has a story on this as well.

As we wrote earlier, UO’s General Counsel Melinda Grier, who approved this sham, is also an Oregon Special Assistant Attorney General. Her husband Jerry Lidz is the Oregon Solicitor General. And Dave Frohnmayer is a former Oregon Attorney General. So it’s pretty safe to say current AG John Kroger is not going to do anything to clean up the situation here at UO.

3/25/2010: Steve Duin of the Oregonian gets the Oregon Attorney General’s office to comment on UO’s deal with Bellotti:

“As a general principle, the attorney general believes oral contracts are inconsistent with government transparency.”

No kidding. Of course UO’s General Counsel Melinda Grier, who approved this sham, is also an Oregon Special Assistant Attorney General. Her husband Jerry Lidz is the Oregon Solicitor General. And Dave Frohnmayer is a former Oregon Attorney General. So it’s pretty safe to say current AG John Kroger is not going to do anything to clean up the situation here at UO.

Things are bad in Canada

2/17/2010: People may remember current Senate President Tublitz’s Motion on Financial Transparency, from last April. Passed on a unanimous voice vote, it says

MOTION: The University Senate directs the University of Oregon Administration to establish a publicly accessible, on-line budget reporting system at the University of Oregon by 1 September 2009 that will allow users to track current and retroactive individual university expenditures as is currently done at our sister institution Oregon State University on their budget reporting website.

Despite speaking against the motion in the Senate, a week or so later, VP for Finance Frances Dyke agreed to implement the system, in this memo:


Obviously it is now nearly a year since the motion, and 6 months past the date Ms Dyke suggested for having a working system. There is something in place – available through the employee menu in duckweb – but it does not even allow you to drill down to the specific account level, much less transactions. So, for example, you can’t see what you have spent from your ASA or grant account or what is left.

In December Peter Gilkey appointed a Senate Working Group to help move this along. They are working now with the UO Controller, Kelly Wolf – who has already done a lot to improve reporting of UO financial information.

2 weeks ago the group met with the OSU VP for Finance Mark McCambridge, who showed us his system – now several years old – and talked about its benefits in terms of trust, transparency, and efficiency.  

The group was supposed to meet Tuesday with the programmers in charge of the UO effort, but that was canceled by the UO administration at the last minute without explanation. They are going to try again to meet with the programmer in charge of the project today.

The following week the group meets with General Counsel Melinda Grier about how Oregon’s public records law applies to this system. McCambridge has said there have been no problems with the OSU system.

Oh yeah, what about Canada?

EDMONTON – University of Alberta faculty have agreed to take six unpaid days of vacation next year in exchange for the chance to review and critique previously confidential financial planning documents.

Crippleware for UO accounting transparency

11/29/2009: We’ve written before about UO Senate efforts to increase transparency by providing a way for faculty to see how the UO spends money. These efforts were motivated by general tendency of the administration to hide spending info from the faculty, and more particularly by claims by Provost Bean that UO’s admin expenses were 38% of our peers, that we were making money on the Bend programs, and by a OUS audit that found former Provost Moseley was improperly using expense money for personal travel. The motion (which passed easily, after someone said “You are asking us to take furloughs. We deserve to know how you are spending our money.”) stated:

The University Senate respectfully requests the University of Oregon Administration to establish a publicly accessible, on-line budget reporting system at the University of Oregon by 15 November 2009 that will allow users to track current and retroactive individual university expenditures as is currently done at our sister institution Oregon State University on their budget reporting website.

Frances Dyke’s office has now put up a reporting system, which any faculty member can use from their Duckweb account, under the faculty menu. However, it is crippleware. You cannot track individual university expenditures, as the motion calls for and as the OSU system easily allows. The closest you can get is annual summaries of expenses and sources, at a very aggregated level. In addition to not being transparent, this is not very useful – for example you can’t use it to check your grant or ASA balances.

The FAC is meeting this week to discuss this issue. There’s no reason UO can’t do what OSU did more than a year ago now –  unless there is something to hide?

Tublitz’s Transparency Resolution

11/9/2009: In May Nathan Tublitz’s motion to increase financial transparency by providing access to UO accounting records passed the UO Senate. The new administration seems to be taking this seriously, and the Senate website now includes this memo: (Note that due to a new state law, in January UO will start posting all employee salary numbers online.)

Transparency of University Financial Transactions (this report is made jointly by Don Harris and Frances Dyke)

The UO Senate passed the following motion:

The University Senate respectfully requests the University of Oregon Administration to establish a publicly accessible, on-line budget reporting system at the University of Oregon by 15 November 2009 that will allow users to track current and retroactive individual university expenditures as is currently done at our sister institution Oregon State University on their budget reporting website ( https://bfpsystems.oregonstate.edu/webreporting/).

Frances Dyke comments:

The CIO, Don Harris is here to answer any of the more technical questions you may with regard to the financial reporting tool that will be available on November 16 (the first workday after November 15). As discussed at the May University Senate meeting work began on developing this tool after a major enterprise software upgrade project was completed in September.

The tool you will be able to access starting next Monday is the initial roll out of a financial reporting tool for compliance with the university Senate motion on financial transparency. In the course of discussions related to development the work group has identified impediments to our ability to provide transactional level detail in a publicly available financial reporting tool. There are issues of both security and legally binding confidentiality that must be balanced against the desire for full transparency. As mentioned at the October Senate meeting I am now asking the Senate President to appoint an advisory group to help analyze these problems and find solutions that can be legally and operationally implemented. In making this request I also recommend that the Senate President consider creating this advisory group by drawing on membership of the Senate Budget Committee and other members of the Senate or university community who have a particular interest or expertise in financial management reporting.

As a side note the state will be implementing a web site to comply with HB 2500 on financial transparency at the state level. This website will be active in January 2010 and will contain salary information on all state employees including all employees in the Oregon University System. It will also include information summarizing payments from agencies to vendors. A copy of the House bill is attached.

Don Harris comments:

The application developed uses the WEB development portal tool kit and will be accessible via DuckWeb. This was done so that we could deploy a resource that could be supported by IS Enterprise Administrative Applications and several programmer/analysts who are trained in the use of this toolset. The application will be easy to use and incorporate pull down menus, drilldown capability within specified limits, the ability to compare several years of data, and the ability to download data into an Excel spreadsheet. We have developed this application to be responsive to the senate motion while seeking to balance the needs for transparency and the security and confidentiality issues that have become apparent. As the VPFA and I work with the advisory group appointed by the Senate president appropriate modifications will be made.

This is a big step forward. Just 6 months ago we were getting emails like this:

Professor X:

Thank you for your inquiry.

The Business Affairs Office is working on a complete redesign of our web presence. Part of that project is to review information currently accessible on our website to decide what to transition to the new portals. During this review period, we looked at the Chart of Accounts page you referenced below.

We discovered that certain information available through the Chart of Accounts is considered confidential pursuant to OAR 571-030-0025(1). As such, we removed the information from our publicly-accessible website and restricted access to personnel with a “demonstrably legitimate need for particular information in order to fulfill their official, professional responsibilities.” Those personnel include those who perform business and budget transactions within the BANNER enterprise accounting system (i.e. campus budget and business officers and core-office personnel.)

If you have any other questions related to Chart of Accounts data, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Kelly B. Wolf

Kelly B. Wolf
Director of Business Affairs and Controller
University of Oregon
Phone: (541) 346-3165
Fax: (541) 346-5820
kbwolf@uoregon.edu

UO Senate motion on financial transparency

5/14/09 Update:

Nathan Tublitz’s UO Senate motion for a bit of financial transparency passed on an unanimous voice vote with a few minor amendments. The argument was over when a Senator said to Frohnmayer: “You are asking us to give up our pay to help out UO. We deserve to know how you are spending our money.” Somehow that didn’t sink in with Frances, who kept on arguing. The motion as passed is here.

Professor Nathan Tublitz has introduced the motion below, calling for UO to follow the OSU lead and provide public access to all accounting information. This simple change would mean the faculty might finally learn how UO spent the extra $12 million in tuition money that came in last year.

Rumor control says Frohnmayer has told the Johnson Hall dwellers that they are to say publicly that they don’t oppose this motion and try and move the Senate to a compromise that would only apply to transactions that occur after President Lariviere takes over. Now why would that be so important? Anyone who’s been at UO for more than a few years knows Frohnmayer’s code of omerta. Perhaps the most vicious recent example was what happened to PPPM Prof. Jean Stockard. But remember, she fought it and won.

UPDATE 5/5/2009: Frances Dyke has now caved on Nathan Tublitz’s motion to require UO to post accounting info on the web. A bit late. Rumor is that Bean is going to hire a new VP for Finance, with responsibility for all the parts of the job Frances hasn’t been able to figure out. She of course will keep her $212,493 salary – hey, it’s not like the state is short of money or anything.

Motion US 08/09-8 Concerning Transparency of University Financial Transactions

MOTION TO ESTABLISH AN ON-LINE BUDGET REPORTING SYSTEM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON

SPONSOR: N. Tublitz, Department of Biology

BACKGROUND: The University of Oregon releases general financial information regarding expenditures on an annual basis. However detailed information on specific expenditures is not easily available. For example, it is currently nearly impossible to ascertain how much did the Biology Department spend on frogs for dissections last term or what were the monthly fax charges accrued by the Romance Languages Department last month.

Our colleagues at Oregon State University have developed a user-friendly, on-line budget reporting web site where users can track expenditures, transaction by transaction, by clicking on specific budget lines in an academic department or administrative office, from the President’s office on down (https://bfpsystems.oregonstate.edu/webreporting/). The OSU system easily tracks individual line items and shows for each how much was budgeted, actual expenditures and available balances. A video demonstration of the OSU system can be viewed at http://oregonstate.edu/~dennisb/videos/nacubo/demo1.html

The OSU on-line budget reporting system has received national exposure and praise (e.g., http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/03/07/financial). A State of Oregon legislative bill (House Bill 2500; ) has been introduced in the current legislative session to establish a similar type of searchable budget reporting website for all executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government. This motion proposes to establish an on-line budget reporting system at the University of Oregon similar to that already in place at Oregon State University.

MOTION: The University Senate directs the University of Oregon Administration to establish a publicly accessible, on-line budget reporting system at the University of Oregon by 1 September 2009 that will allow users to track current and retroactive individual university expenditures as is currently done at our sister institution Oregon State University on their budget reporting website ( https://bfpsystems.oregonstate.edu/webreporting/).

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: OSU’s VP for Finance and Administration, Mark McCambridge, states that their cost of developing a web site to interface with their existing budget database (BANNER) cost less than $10,000. Given that OSU has already produced the interface, the cost to the University of Oregon should be significantly less.