Missouri Auditor Critical Of University Of Missouri System Incentives, Car Allowances

Mar 6, 2017

The Missouri State Auditor issued a report Monday highly critical of University of Missouri System executive inventive and car allowance policies.
Credit University of Missouri

In a very critical report, the Missouri auditor called into question incentive payments made to top executives of the University of Missouri System. In a report released Monday, Auditor Nicole Galloway also questioned how much the system paid to the former chancellor of the Columbia campus after his resignation and how much the system spends on car allowances for UM System executives.

Much of the report was focused on the resignation of Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin in November 2015. Loftin resigned just hours after UM System President Tim Wolfe quit. Reportedly, nine deans from the Columbia campus signed a letter calling for Loftin's resignation, saying he created a "toxic environment."

After his resignation, the system created a new job for him; Director of National Security Research Development. Loftin negotiated a salary of $344,250 "which is based on 75 percent of the Chancellor's fiscal year 2016 salary. This level of compensation is 31 percent more than the highest paid research administrator on campus," according to the audit.

Galloway also question why Loftin was granted a $35,000 annual stipend to his salary and a $15,560 car allowance. "No other director level employee receives a vehicle allowance," the audit says.

Galloway's report was also critical of $819,000 in inventive payments made to top system executives in 2014, 2015, and 2016. "The incentive program, in its current form, appears to violate the Missouri Constitution," according to the report.

Galloway also says the incentive program has transparency problems.

"Incentive program payments and other non-salary compensation are not included in the published and publicly available compensation information for the individuals receiving the payments. As a result, compensation levels of the UM System's top executives and administrators are understated in public records and the transparency of system personnel costs is reduced," the audit says.

"These hidden sources of additional compensation amount to bonus pay, because there were no clear guidelines or performance metrics," Galloway said in a statement. "These payments must be included in compensation figures released to taxpayers so they know how their money is being spent."

Finally, Galloway was critical of how much the UM System spends on executive vehicle allowances. The report says the average car allowance for executives is $14,044 a year or $1,170 a month. This is three times what the system would pay if it simply reimbursed executives the 51 cents a mile it pays all other employees.

In its written response to the audit, the UM System said all of the compensation issues raised by the auditor are proper, constitutional and approved by the Board of Curators.

KCUR is licensed to the University of Missouri Board of Curators and is an editorially independent community service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Sam Zeff covers education for KCUR and the Kansas News Service and is host of the political podcast Statehouse Blend Kansas. Follow him on Twitter @SamZeff.