D.C. Auditor Otis H. Troupe accused University of the District of Columbia officials yesterday of "stonewalling" his inquiry into university financial practices and concluded that UDC President Robert L. Green should repay almost $13,000 Troupe said was misspent.
Green, 51, in his first public response to the allegations of financial improprieties, said that he "strongly disagreed" with the auditor's conclusions, which were contained in a final audit report on the president's representation fund released yesterday. Green said that an independent audit by Coopers & Lybrand, a national accounting firm hired by the UDC trustees, had concluded he should reimburse UDC for only $2,332 of expenses from the representation fund.
"I'm not assuming that the auditor's report is final and correct," Green said during a five-minute interview on WRC-TV. "It depends how one defines funds spent improperly. I felt that every expenditure I made, that every commitment of dollars I made as it related to the representation fund was defensible and appropriate."
Meanwhile, Alonza T. Evans, the president of the UDC Alumni Association, urged last night that Green take a leave of absence until questions about his administration have been resolved. F.D.R. Fox, a member of the university board of trustees who attended a meeting of the association, told reporters that he supported Evans' position.
"Something is wrong at UDC," Evans said. "In recent weeks, Washington's media have raised the level of concern in our community about UDC to new heights with allegations of wrongdoing by university officials and Dr. Robert L. Green, university president. At this time, I don't know if anyone is guilty of any crime. However, I do know that several people are guilty of very poor judgment."
Fox is the second trustee to call for Green to step aside. Trustee Joseph Webb has been calling for Green's removal for the past several weeks. A total of five of the 15 trustees favor Green resigning or taking a leave of absence, according to interviews conducted by The Washington Post over the last week.
Green indicated during his television appearance that he intends to resist any effort to force him out of the presidency. "I have a five-year contract and I plan to honor that contract," he said.
The representation fund, the object of the auditor's report, is a discretionary account used to cover expenses connected with Green's official duties.
Green said yesterday that, "in order not to drag out this debate," he had already reimbursed the university for questionable expenditures cited in the Coopers & Lybrand report, which was submitted to Troupe two weeks ago and was incorporated into the report released yesterday.
In his report, Troupe complained that UDC officials had made available to auditors from Coopers & Lybrand "pertinent records and officials" that "were not available to the auditor or not forthcoming" during Troupe's three-month investigation.
"As the [D.C.] audit team made progress, new avenues of inquiry relating to possible irregularities were uncovered," Troupe said. "At this time, university officials began avoiding and stonewalling the legitimate inquiries of the auditor."
The FBI earlier this week began a preliminary investigation into allegations of financial improprieties by officials at the 8-year-old, publicly financed university.
Troupe's final report on the representation fund cited one instance in which Green used university funds to cover travel expenses for a longtime associate from Michigan, Cassandra A. Simmons, who attended a conference with him in Boston last year.
The report said that for his two-day trip to Boston, Green spent $628 and billed his expenses to three separate university accounts. Troupe said that Green was not justified in traveling first-class to attend the Boston conference and that the trip should have cost the university only $300.
"We further note that . . . . Cassandra A. Simmons . . . attended this conference at the expense of the university via the representation fund," Troupe's report said.
Simmons, a colleague of Green's from Michigan State University, where he served as dean prior to assuming the UDC presidency in September 1983, has received $37,200 in consulting fees from UDC since Green took office. She received another $10,000 consulting contract in late 1983 from Dwight S. Cropp, then D.C. secretary, who is now a UDC vice president.
The audit said Green should repay the university a total of $12,942 for expenditures that were for personal items, including travel for himself, friends and relatives; the purchase of flowers, and the hiring of consultants who, according to Troupe, had not completed satisfactory work for the university.
The misspent funds, according to Troupe, included $6,056 for household and other miscellaneous expenditures that did not follow guidelines; $1,119 for airfare and car rentals; $576 for airfare and hotel expenses for relatives and friends; $2,150 for flowers, and $3,041 for consultants' expenses.
The report said Green was authorized to spend $23,213 from his representation fund in fiscal 1984, but that he improperly transferred another $10,186 into it from the university's postsecondary education account.
It said Green routinely comingled funds from different university accounts, failed to provide documentation for his expenditures and often submitted photocopies instead of original vouchers.
Troupe's report said Green violated university guidelines in spending $3,619 to hire five consultants.
"There were no contracts. There were no work products," Troupe said. He said that the university submitted work products for three consultants but that "none of these qualified as work products in our judgment."
"At least one of the invidividuals may be a friend or a relative of the president rather than a consultant," the report concluded.
Troupe said Green paid $561 in expenses for a feasibility study provided by a resident agent of Green's own consulting firm, R.L. Green & Associates, but that university officials had failed to document these expenditures properly.
"What we have then is an instance of the president bypassing university policy -- as well as reasonble business practices -- in order to direct a payment to a crony," the report said.