The University of California, after a two-year delay, has finally cooperated in a U.S. Department of Labor affirmative action investigation, department officials announced Friday.
University officials signed a consent decree a day before they would have lost $25 million in Federal contracts for failure to release faculty peer review documents at all nine campuses of the university.
The government investigation began in 1978 with compliance review conducted by HEW--now the Department of Health and Human Services--prior to the renewal of a $1 million contract with the Naval Biosciences Dept. at the university's Berkeley campus. Suspicious of possible affirmative action violations in other departments, the investigators requested records from six faculty hiring and promotion committees. All of the committees refused to comply, citing reasons of confidentiality and academic freedom.
"There's a privilege to withhold these documents," Donald L. Reidhaar, legal counsel of the University of California said in a telephone interview Monday. He said that University officials feared that third parties could gain access to the documents at some point in the future through the Freedom of Information Act if they were released to government agencies.
Daniel Steiner '54, general counsel for Harvard, said Monday that similar issues "have not arisen here." However, in the past Harvard has released some documents with specific names deleted-- to aid affirmative action investigations, Steiner said.
At Berkeley, Labor Department officials would not permit University of California officials to delete any portion of the documents.