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USG: ‘GPC’s fiscal challenges were preventable’

By David Schick


The Board of Regents (BOR) answered the questions of “how” and “why”  GPC’s budget deficit occurred in an official audit report released today by the University System of Georgia (USG).

The special review, conducted by the Office of Internal Audit and Compliance (OIAC), summarized that “GPC’s fiscal challenges were preventable,” had the shortfall been detected “in any given year leading up to FY12.”

According to the report, there was no fraud and the “budget neglect did not appear to be malicious or intentional.” The conclusion was that senior financial GPC administrators didn’t perform their duties, but “responsibility for the institution’s management rests with the President.”

Each one of GPC’s former fiscal leadership team, which included former President Anthony Tricoli, former Excutive Vice-President of Financial and Administrative Affairs and Chief Business Officer (CBO) Ron Carruth, former Budget Director Mark Gerspacher and former Assistant Vice-President (AVP) for Financial and Administrative Affairs Sheletha Champion, all claim “to have been unaware of GPC’s fiscal condition.” However, the audit states that the AVP knew of over-expenditures in the budget in June 2011 “when a consultant informed her of the possibility,” and “even after she was made aware of this possibility, the problem was not remedied.”

From page 17 of the audit report:

The former President has stated that he was unaware of the college’s financial straits and that he relied on the former CBO for accurate financial and budget information. Similarly, the former CBO stated he was not aware of the college’s actual financial condition (as reflected in the audited financial reports) and that it would have been the former AVP’s and former budget director’s responsibility to notify him. The former AVP asserted that she was excluded from many of the discussions and much of the decision- making with respect to budget matters, even though the budget director reported directly to her. Consequently, she possessed limited knowledge of the decisions made with respect to GPC’s budget, including whether or not budget reductions should be implemented.

The former CBO “indicated that he did not review GPC’s financial statements and essentially relied on the Budget Director and AVP to bring budget-related fiscal issues to his attention” while “every primary duty of the Budget Director was left unfulfilled.”

Additionally, “budget reporting was inaccurate, budgets were not correctly loaded into the financial system, numerous individuals could override the flawed budgets that were loaded in the system, and budget development essentially ignored actual financial experience.”

Essentially, the “how” and “why” audit answers of GPC’s budget deficit amount to – everyone dropped the ball, but no one saw it drop.

In regards to the question, “Where did the money go?”

The audit states, “it is difficult to determine exactly where the budget was overspent,” but several pages later cites a $16.8 million increase in personal services from 2009 to 2012, which correlates to an inaccuracy in the calculation of  “fringe benefits.”

“The audit and our internal review have led to changes in policy and practice that have improved our fiscal management,” wrote Chancellor Hank Huckaby in a statement to GPC faculty and staff.

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  • Celeste C.

    There seems to be a few new jobs that are open. Will the people who were let go get a “real” chance to return (if qualified)? Or will the jobs go to friends and family members who don’t qualify? GPC be honest. People were let go because of mistakes at the top. GPC should reach out because most of them have not found work…

    • New jobs that are open at GPC?

      Can you please tell me where and how I can find these listings?

      • Jobs
      • Charter Member of the GPC 282

        I reviewed my RIF notice and mine at least contained nothing about
        ever being called back. My notice said clearly “goodbye and good luck”. With emphasis on goodbye.

        Having not seen the notices of others, I have no idea if my note was standard or personalized.

        I have heard of some people being rehired into new positions, but have no first hand knowledge of it.. If this has happened I’d be interested in knowing if they came back at the same salary level, were their leave balances intact, and did they come back in the same or similar job.

      • Charter Member of the GPC 282

        One thing has bothered me for some time now.

        Rob Watts said something along the lines of this was an “unprecedented” amount debt at the last meeting of the whole staff before the RIFing. I completely believe him.

        What I don’t understand is why an “unprecedented” problem was allegedly solved with the most stereotypical response. Rapid, frantic terminating of positions.

  • Whitaker, Watts and WTF?

    The accrediting agency SACS is visiting NOW. They have to ensure that changes are made to the corrupt culture at GPC. Rob Watts has lost much goodwill by keeping many of the people responsible for the disaster. Julius Whitaker is the prime example. Whitaker has spoken of his job of keeping Tricoli on track while his executive assistant. Even the university system’s fake audit shows that no one was fiscally on track, even the university system itself. Where was Whitaker with the financial documents Tricoli should have been keeping up with?

    When Watts was at GPC the first time, he appointed Whitaker to positions he wasn’t qualified for – campus provost and dean of admissions. Now that Watts is back, he’s made Whitaker the head librarian of the 3rd largest college in the university system. Whitaker hasnt’t worked in a library for years, and there’s no chance in hell that any library would hire him now with so many better qualified people available. Most recent job experience – top flunky to a disgraced and incompetent college president – great on a resume.

    What has Whitaker done for Watts and the university system to keep getting undeserved and unqualified promotions? What the hell have GPC libraries done to Watts to deserve having Whitaker foisted upon them?

    Whitaker is supposed to be interim but acts like it’s permanent, planning on redecorating Clarkston and Decatur libraries, and other things that should be left to a permanent chief director. I’ll bet the word interim is quietly dropped without a search committee. Watts is advertising for an executive assistant – Whitaker’s old job, so he must trust Whitaker as little as the rest of GPC.

    The Clarkston and Dunwoody directors were shoved into retirement to make room for Whitaker. Whitaker and the Decatur director hated each other so she was laid off. 3 of 5 campus library directors out and Whitaker’s working out spite like Carrie on prom night now he’s got power again and no one to hold him back.

    Watts isn’t in control and it’s showing. Not a good time to have a weak leader when accreditation is at stake.

  • The losses could have been prevented if Tricoli had the ability to fire incompetent people. He did not. It is not clear who mandated that restriction. BOR? Rob Watts? I’m not sure if I would want to take on such a role of responsibility even given the salary

    True. The “little people” get to bear the burden of the enormous mistakes and/or incompetencies of people making $150K and up. Students? Are they kidding? Both Watts’ and the BOR’s commendations about the faculty and staff dedication to teaching and the best interests of students make me want to puke, frankly.

  • Celeste C.

    Another thought…fire a couple of folks at the top, then bring back the 200+ that were fired…

  • Celeste C.

    The wrong people were fired!!!Maybe some of the big wigs should have been let go…the little people are always the fall-guy. No one knows where the money went, give me a break. Maybe the FBI should check this out…