State employees and agencies engaged in various improper governmental activities, including the following:
- Four psychiatrists worked significantly fewer than 40 hours per week during a one‑year period. The cost of their missed work hours totaled $296,800.
- A supervising nurse, who also served as a military reservist, forged military documents and falsely claimed he performed reservist duties; as a result, he received compensation and benefits of $6,000 to which he was not entitled.
- A psychiatrist violated the California Political Reform Act of 1974 by failing to disclose income of $29,800 that he received from a pharmaceutical company.
- A state agency wasted state funds when it improperly reimbursed three employees $4,500 in excess of the allowed amount for training.
- A state agency wasted $25,600 in state funds during a one-year period when it charged only eight hours of leave for 12 employees who missed scheduled nine‑hour or 10-hour workdays.
- A state agency failed to update an outdated policy related to rental vehicle use for state travel; as a result, another state agency inadvertently wasted state funds totaling $4,200 when it followed the outdated policy.
Results in Brief
The California Whistleblower Protection Act (Whistleblower Act) empowers the California State Auditor (state auditor) to investigate and report on improper governmental activities by agencies and employees of the State. Under the Whistleblower Act, an improper governmental activity is any action by a state agency or employee during the performance of official duties that violates a law, is economically wasteful, or involves gross misconduct, incompetence, or inefficiency.1
This report details the results of six particularly significant investigations completed by the state auditor between July 1, 2015, and December 31, 2015. This report also outlines the investigative results from another four investigations that were best suited for other state agencies to investigate on our behalf during the same six-month period. The following paragraphs briefly summarize the investigations, which the individual chapters of this report discuss more fully.
Department of State Hospitals, Patton State Hospital
Four psychiatrists at Patton State Hospital regularly worked an average of 22 to 29 hours per week from July 2014 through June 2015 rather than the average of 40 hours per week required by their collective bargaining agreement. In total, these psychiatrists worked 2,254 fewer hours than necessary to average 40 hours per week. The portion of their salaries associated with these missed work hours totaled $296,800. In addition, two of these psychiatrists engaged in other employment during their regularly scheduled state work hours. Further, the psychiatrists were dishonest regarding their attendance and outside employment. We also learned that psychiatrists and other staff at Patton may also regularly work less than an average of 40 hours per week. Although supervisors and executive management were generally aware of psychiatrists’ failure to work a weekly average of 40 hours, they did not act to resolve the situation.
California Correctional Health Care Services
A supervising nurse at California Correctional Health Care Services (Correctional Health Care), who also serves in the United States military reserve force, forged multiple military documents and deceived Correctional Health Care regarding the dates of his reservist duties. He submitted the forged documents to his supervisor at Correctional Health Care and claimed military leave from work on the dates the documents specified, even though he did not perform reservist duties on 10 of the 34 days. The supervising nurse subsequently signed and submitted time sheets to Correctional Health Care in which he falsely claimed that he had performed reservist duties on those 10 days. In addition, the supervising nurse falsely claimed that he was on active duty for another four days; consequently, the State compensated him for these days although he was actually on inactive duty and thus should not have been compensated. As a result of the supervising nurse’s dishonesty, he received compensation and benefits totaling $6,000 to which he was not entitled.
Department of State Hospitals
A psychiatrist at one of California’s state hospitals (facility) violated the financial disclosure requirements of the California Political Reform Act of 1974 by failing to disclose his financial interests in a pharmaceutical company. Specifically, the psychiatrist failed to disclose income totaling at least $29,800 that he received from a pharmaceutical company while he was acting as the facility’s medical director from May 2013 to September 2014. In addition, the filing officials at the facility responsible for the collection of the required disclosure forms failed to ensure that the psychiatrist submitted those forms.
Department of Water Resources
The Department of Water Resources (Water Resources) wasted state funds when it improperly reimbursed three employees $4,500 in excess of the allowed amount for training as a result of its staff ’s inconsistent practices and failure to follow its training policies and procedures. These same issues also led its staff to questionably categorize training courses for another seven employees. Water Resources potentially could have saved $50,800 had its staff appropriately categorized courses for these seven employees and had the staff followed its policy of limiting certain training reimbursements to $2,000 per calendar year for each full-time employee.
California Department of Developmental Services, Porterville Developmental Center
The Porterville Developmental Center (Porterville) wasted state funds when it charged only eight hours of leave to certain employees who missed scheduled nine-hour or 10-hour workdays. When we reviewed the time sheets and leave records for 12 employees from July 2014 through June 2015, we found Porterville did not charge 566 hours of leave to them, which cost the State at least $25,600. Because Porterville did not deduct the leave from the employees’ leave balances, the extra hours remain available for these employees to use for additional paid time off from work or for conversion to a cash payment when they leave state service.
Department of General Services
By following a state policy established by the Department of General Services (General Services) related to rental vehicle use for state travel, the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) inadvertently wasted state funds. The outdated policy required CalRecycle and all other state agencies to use General Services’ rental services for short-term vehicle rentals in the Sacramento area. However, we found that CalRecycle could have saved $4,200 from July 2014 through June 2015 had its employees rented vehicles from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the private company with which the State has a contract, instead of General Services on 86 occasions.
Other Investigative Results
In addition to the investigations described previously, the state auditor referred numerous investigations to state agencies to perform in response to Whistleblower Act complaints that the agencies were best suited to investigate. The following investigations that substantiated improper governmental activities have particular significance.
California Department of Public Health
A supervisor at the California Department of Public Health misused state time from January 2015 through July 2015 by leaving for several hours during his shift almost every day without using leave and without management approval. We estimated that the supervisor did not account for 234 hours of his work time, valued at $3,800.
Department of Industrial Relations
From October 2013 through June 2014 an engineer at the Department of Industrial Relations submitted travel claims for more mileage than permitted by state law. The overcharges allowed him to collect $1,300 more than he was due for his travel reimbursements.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
An employee of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife received an improper reimbursement for $300 in expenses related to a two-day retirement planning seminar that he did not attend. The employee deceived his supervisor about his failure to attend the seminar and submitted a falsified time sheet that showed his attendance.
California Department of Public Health
An associate governmental program analyst at the California Department of Public Health misused her state computer and email to operate her residential rental business for at least five years.
Table 1 summarizes the improper governmental activities appearing in this report, the financial impact of the activities, and their status.
|STATUS OF RECOMMENDATIONS|
|CHAPTER||DEPARTMENT||ISSUE||COST TO THE STATE AS OF DECEMBER 31, 2015*||FULLY IMPLEMENTED||PARTIALLY IMPLEMENTED||PENDING|
|1||Department of State Hospitals, Patton State Hospital||
Failure to work sufficient hours; misuse of state resources
|2||California Correctional Health Care Services||Forgery of military documents; false time reporting||5,988||PENDING|
|3||Department of State Hospitals||
Violations of the California Political Reform Act of 1974
|4||Department of Water Resources||Waste of state funds||4,490||PENDING|
|5||California Department of Developmental Services, Porterville Developmental Center||Waste of state funds||25,634||PENDING|
|6||Department of General Services||Waste of state funds||4,216||FULLY
|7||California Department of Public Health||Misuse of state resources||3,793||FULLY
|7||Department of Industrial Relations||Inaccurate time sheet, dishonesty, misuse of state resources||1,322||FULLY
|7||California Department of Fish and Wildlife||Misuse of state resources||323||PENDING|
|7||California Department of Health Care Services||Misuse of state resources||NA||PENDING|
Source: California State Auditor.
NA = Not applicable because the situation did not involve a dollar amount or because the finding did not allow us to quantify the financial impact.
* We estimated the costs to the State as noted in individual chapters of this report.
1 For more information about the California State Auditor’s investigations program, please refer to the Appendix.Go back to text