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Project on Government Oversight

POGO praises Senator Grassley for raising concerns about integrity of finances at UCSF

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December 8, 2009

The Project On Government Oversight praises Senator Charles Grassley for calling on Mark G. Yudof, President of the University of California System, to respond to allegations of financial discrepancies at the University of California at San Francisco’s School of Medicine (Medical School).

Shortly after being hired as the Dean of the Medical School, David Kessler, the highly respected former head of the FDA, noted serious discrepancies in the school’s financial books.  He pressed the matter with University officials and was fired for blowing the whistle. 

In a letter to President Yudof, Senator Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate’s Finance Committee, cites the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars UCSF receives each year from various federal agencies.  Senator Grassley seeks assurances about the integrity of finances at UCSF and raises concerns about whether similar problems may exist at other campuses within the UC system.

POGO is very familiar with the University of California’s treatment of conscientious employees who report wrongdoing.  In 2002, two investigators working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), where the University of California was the prime contractor, discovered fraud and criminal activity at the lab.  They investigated one incident of many, and as a result a senior manager and his assistant were convicted and sent to federal prison. UC summarily fired the investigators after their disclosure. 

“Senator Grassley is on the right track in calling to account the University of California’s leadership to explain its highly suspect accounting of the hundreds of millions it receives from various federal agencies.  The University’s public record of mistreatment and firing of legitimate whistleblowers in recent years is a disgrace,” said Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project On Government Oversight.

POGO has previously expressed concerns with UC’s unfair and inequitable treatment of whistleblowers, who are precluded from filing a civil suit for damages in court so long as UC denied their claim promptly—which makes UC the sole arbiter of its own misconduct in whistleblower cases. California Senator Leland Yee had proposed a bill to correct this absurd form of immunity.  Although Yee’s bill to provide all whistleblowers with equal access to the courts passed the legislature, it was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger on October 11, 2009.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.