uc.jpgSFUSD: Charge!

An analysis of the San Francisco school district’s financial records by the Chronicle reveals more bad news about the district’s continuing mismanagement of funds.

Reporters investigated the misuse of a district credit card by school board president Kim-Shree Maufas. Maufas charged $4300 to the district’s Diners Club card over a 16 month period. Purchases ranged from an educational trip to China, to a new car battery, to the ever-important iTunes music purchase. Maufas proved a generous tipper, averaging 27% across all purchases.

Maufas has said that she believed herself in the right regarding her purchases, and that she always intended to reimburse the district. To date Maufas has reimbursed the district in four payments over several months. She has yet to pay interest on any of the purchases.

UC: Consultant Woes

The Chronicle also reports that UC Berkeley has hired Massachusetts consulting giant Bain and Co. for a whopping $3 million to help the university create a long term plan to save money.

The announcement comes at a time when tensions already run high over budget shortfalls which have resulted in layoffs, pay cuts, and tuition increases for UC schools.

One UC employee said, “It absolutely sickens me that the majority of my 8 percent pay cut is going–not to protect the core teaching and research mission of the university–but rather to compensate overpaid business consultants and their multimonth hotel stays and weekly flights home.”

Other opponents of the spending decision argue that using experts within the Haas School of Business would be a better idea. UC Chancellor Robert Birgeneau countered that doing so could affect the impartiality of such an analysis.

Charles Schwartz, professor emeritus and careful observer of the university’s budget, expressed skepticism at the benefits such a steep price tag would bring. Schwartz cited a consultation in 1997, when Bain and Co. concluded that a merger between UCSF and Stanford was a good idea. The merger proved a financial disaster and lasted a little under two years.

Though regarded highly in the consulting world, Bain and Co has little experience working in higher education. Recently, UNC Chapel Hill received an anonymous donation, the only stipulation being that it be used to pay for budget consultation from Bain and Co.

Bain and Co. presented their findings to UNC Chapel Hill administrators in a report.

The firm found that a large sum of money could be saved by UNC restructuring its complicated bureaucratic structure. Consultants recommended creating a standard reporting procedure for all offices, and eliminating certain supervisors and giving more control to those that continue.

What do you think? Is hiring Bain a smart and long-term approach to saving money, or another instance in which white collared employees are paid far too much at the expense of the university?

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!