CSU audit faults SDSU for travel expenses

by Colleen Larson, Staff Writer

A recent audit found San Diego State’s executive administration and faculty have spent more than the allotted stipends for travel fees and hotel stays.

The California State University’s Office of Audit and Advisory Services and the CSU trustee’s Committee on Audit conducted the examination, which found at least nine travel expense claims, “included lodging costs that exceeded the maximum rate of $175 per night, without a pre-approved exception request.”

Greg Block, SDSU chief communications officer, said the times when administration and faculty stayed in expensive hotels was because they were in higher costing areas and receipts with explanations should have been provided.

The audit also found that along with hotel stays, there were several instances in which the university paid for business select flights, and receipts and justifications were not provided.

Block said the university agreed with the audit and recognized that the fees were not documented the way they should have been.

“While these fees are permitted by the CSU Travel Policy and there were valid reasons in each instance, we agree that they were not adequately documented, and a written explanation or justification should have been provided on the travel claim,” Block said.

Bo Elder, co-chair of Students Overcoming Struggles, said he believes the top-level administration at SDSU does not care about those under them and said the administration doesn’t like when news outlets report about their wrongdoings because it threatens their ability to generate money.

“Top-level CSU administrators look down on the students, faculty, staff and voters of California,” Elder said. “The only concerns they seem responsive to are those of their fellow rich people, as far as I can tell.  They don’t like it when their misdeeds make the news, mainly because they see tainting of the school brand as a threat to their ability to generate revenue from private sources.”

After the release of the audit, Block said a committee has been established to help clean up the process of reviewing travel expenses, and it is reviewing travel procedures.

“The university is reviewing all travel expense claims to ensure that travelers are submitting the appropriate receipts, justifications, and documenting any exceptions as required by the CSU Travel Policy,” Block said. “Also to ensure campus divisions are aware of the audit findings and the procedural changes that have been established.”

He said training will be provided to those individuals who handle and process executive travel.