Report I2009-0640 All Recommendation Responses

Report I2009-0640: California Department of Transportation: Caltrans Employees Engaged in Inexcusable Neglect of Duty, Received Overpayment for Overtime, Falsified Test Data, and Misappropriated State Property (Release Date: March 2013)

Case Number I2009-0640

Recommendation #1 To: Transportation, Department of

To address the false claims for overtime and differential work hours submitted by Technician A and approved by his supervisor, we recommend that Caltrans seek $6,834 in reimbursement from Technician A for the overtime and pay differential payments that he received improperly. (See I2009-0640 ,p. 23)

Agency Response From May 2013

Caltrans reported in February 2013 that it took an adverse action against Technician A and then reached a settlement with him that resolved all issues related to this case. As a result of the settlement, Caltrans claimed that it was precluded from taking further action against Technician A to collect reimbursement for the payments he improperly received. We disagreed with that conclusion, however, as the settlement made no reference to collecting the reimbursement.

Subsequently, Caltrans claimed that it was unable to recover reimbursement for the improper payments because the last of the payments was made in November 2008, which is beyond the three-year statute of limitations for bringing a legal action to recover the money. Although a three year statute of limitations generally applies in these situations, due to the fraudulent nature of Technician A's actions, we believe Caltrans could have alleged that the statute of limitations was tolled until the impropriety of the payments was discovered, which would have allowed it time to recover reimbursement in 2013.

However, now that three years has elapsed since the impropriety of the payments was discovered, we agree that no further action can be taken to implement this recommendation.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Resolved


Case Number I2009-0640

Recommendation #2 To: Transportation, Department of

To address the false claims for overtime and differential work hours submitted by Technician B and approved by his supervisor, we recommend that Caltrans seek $6,954 in reimbursement from Technician B for the overtime and pay differential payments that he received improperly. (See I2009-0640 ,p. 23)

Agency Response From May 2013

Caltrans reported in February 2013 that it took an adverse action against Technician B and then reached a settlement with him that resolved all issues related to this case. As a result of the settlement, Caltrans claimed that it was precluded from taking further action against Technician B to collect reimbursement for the payments he improperly received. We disagreed with that conclusion, however, as the settlement made no reference to collecting the reimbursement.

Subsequently, Caltrans claimed that it was unable to recover reimbursement for the improper payments because the last of the payments was made in September 2008, which is beyond the three-year statute of limitations for bringing a legal action to recover the money. Although a three year statute of limitations generally applies in these situations, due to the fraudulent nature of Technician B's actions, we believe Caltrans could have alleged that the statute of limitations was tolled until the impropriety of the payments was discovered, which would have allowed it time to recover reimbursement in 2013.

However, now that three years has elapsed since the impropriety of the payments was discovered, we agree that no further action can be taken to implement this recommendation.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Resolved


Case Number I2009-0640

Recommendation #3 To: Transportation, Department of

To address the false claims for overtime and differential work hours submitted by technicians A and B and approved by their supervisor, we recommend that Caltrans establish a system to enforce the requirement that specific overtime hours be preapproved for an employee to be compensated for the hours. (See I2009-0640, p. 23)

Agency Response From February 2013

Caltrans revised its policies and procedures through a personnel bulletin issued to all employees in November 2012 that generally requires overtime be pre-approved for an employee in order to be compensated for it. Under Caltrans' revised policies and proceduires, an employee may only be compensated for working overtime that was not pre-approved if the employee submits documentation explaining why the need for overtime work was not anticipated and justifying the need for the overtime work to be performed.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Case Number I2009-0640

Recommendation #4 To: Transportation, Department of

To address the false claims for overtime and differential work hours submitted by technicians A and B and approved by their supervisor, we recommend that Caltrans reinforce with Caltrans supervisors that they have a duty to verify that overtime and specially compensated work actually has been performed prior to authorizing payment for the work. (See I2009-0640, p. 23)

Agency Response From February 2013

Caltrans sent an e-mail to all managers and supervisors in December 2011 regarding its revised policy governing the use of overtime and the responsibility of managers and supervisors to review the overtime policy with their employees. In addition, in November 2012, Caltrans' human resources division issued a personnel bulletin that provided instructions for requesting and approving overtime, including the need to obtain pre-approval of overtime and maintain proper overtime documentation.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Case Number I2009-0640

Recommendation #5 To: Transportation, Department of

To address the false claims for overtime and differential work hours submitted by technicians A and B and approved by their supervisor, we recommend that Caltrans require the hours of overtime and differential work claimed by an employee to be matched with specific projects before they are approved for payment to help ensure that the hours claimed are legitimate. (See I2009-0640, p. 23)

Agency Response From May 2013

Caltrans reported that since January 2012 the supervisor of the Foundation Testing Branch has been performing an initial review of all overtime requests before forwarding the requests to the office chief for final approval. In addition, the supervisor has been conducting weekly quality reviews of pre-approved overtime requests, time sheets, and daily field reports to ensure the accuracy of each employee's claimed hours of overtime and differential work. The supervisor also ensures that all reported overtime and differential work is matched to specific projects before approving the time sheets. Finally, the supervisor and staff were provided training in April 2013 to reinforce compliance with overtime policies and will be given similar training annually thereafter.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Case Number I2009-0640

Recommendation #6 To: Transportation, Department of

To address the lack of controls that allowed the falsification of gamma gamma logging testing data by Technician A and the engineer, we recommend that Caltrans require that Foundation Testing Branch technicians submit to an engineer both the raw data file and log ASCII data file for every gamma gamma logging test performed for a project to help ensure that testing data has not been falsified. (See I2009-0640, p. 24)

Agency Response From February 2013

In November 2011, the supervisor of the Foundation Testing Branch instructed staff to submit to the assigned project engineer both the raw data file and the log ASCII file for every gamma gamma logging test performed. In addition, the supervisor and the office chief developed and implemented a gamma gamma quality control checklist to ensure that technicians follow appropriate testing procedures.

In October 2012, the Foundation Testing Branch implemented a new process in which a second Foundation Testing Branch engineer, different from the engineer assigned to evaluate a gamma gamma logging test, performs a secondary review of the test data to ensure the accuracy and quality of the test. In addition, the supervisor of the Foundation Testing Branch performs a final review of all gamma gamma logging test results. Finally, in October 2012, the Gamma Gamma Logging Data Integrity Review Team provided the Foundation Testing Branch with a gamma gamma logging data checker tool, which it immediately placed in use.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Case Number I2009-0640

Recommendation #7 To: Transportation, Department of

To address the lack of controls that allowed the falsification of gamma gamma logging testing data by Technician A and the engineer, we recommend that Caltrans implement the recommendations of the GAMDAT peer reviewers intended to improve the gamma gamma logging testing procedures of the Foundation Testing Branch. (See I2009-0640, p. 24)

Agency Response From November 2013

In November 2013, Caltrans reported that all five of the recommendations made by the GAMDAT peer reviwers were addressed. Our analysis of Caltrans' actions determined that the recommendations were implemented.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Case Number I2009-0640

Recommendation #8 To: Transportation, Department of

To address the lack of controls that allowed the falsification of gamma gamma logging testing data by Technician A and the engineer, we recommend that Caltrans implement any recommendations made by the GAMDAT team intended to strengthen the integrity of the gamma gamma logging testing performed by the Foundation Testing Branch. (See I2009-0640, p. 24)

Agency Response From April 2014

Caltrans reported that in March 2014 it fully implemented the final recommendation of the GAMDAT team that remained outstanding.

To evaluate and implement the recommendations of the GAMDAT team, Caltrans assembled a team of subject matter experts, which included a member of the GAMDAT team. This team of subject matter experts concluded that Caltrans adequately has addressed all of the GAMDAT team's recommendations. The GAMDAT team made a total of 15 recommendations, and Caltrans implemented 13 of them. Regarding the remaining two recommendations, the subject matter experts determined that before Caltrans received these recommendations, Caltrans already had taken actions that were sufficient to address the concerns that gave rise to the recommendations. As a result, the subject matter experts determined that no further action was necessary by Caltrans to address these recommendations.

As the GAMDAT team did not establish a process for evaluating Caltrans' efforts to implements its very technical recommendations, we must defer to the determinations of the subject matter experts.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Resolved


Agency Response From January 2014

Caltrans is continuing to work on implementing the outstanding recommendation discussed in the November 2013 update. It is expecting to implement the recommendation fully by April 2014.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response From November 2013

The GAMDAT team made multiple recommendations intended to strengthen the integrity of the gamma gamma logging testing performed by the Foundation Testing Branch. These recommendations were aimed at minimizing gamma gamma logging data file irregularities, minimizing potential operational irregularities, and improving other gamma gamma logging processes. As of November 2013, Caltrans had implemented or resolved all but one of the GAMDAT recommendations and intends to fully implement the remaining recommendation in January 2014.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Case Number I2009-0640

Recommendation #9 To: Transportation, Department of

To address the lack of controls that allowed the falsification of gamma gamma logging testing data by Technician A and the engineer, we recommend that Caltrans implement a policy to ensure that engineers perform analyses on properly collected data and do not misrepresent gamma gamma logging test results. (See I2009-0640, p. 24)

Agency Response From July 2013

Caltrans implemented a policy to ensure that when engineers perform gamma gamma logging test analyses, they perform their analyses on properly collected data and do not misrepresent gamma gamma logging test results. Under this policy, when a gamma gamma logging test produces null value or zero count results, the test must be performed again. The branch conducted workshops with its staff to discuss this policy.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Case Number I2009-0640

Recommendation #10 To: Transportation, Department of

To address the misappropriation of state property by the supervisor, we recommend that Caltrans obtain an estimate of the value of the materials the supervisor removed from Caltrans facilities and placed on his property (aside from the steel beams) as well as the value of the state employee time spent refashioning and transporting those materials. (See I2009-0640, p. 24)

Agency Response From August 2014

Caltrans reported that it reached a negotiated settlement with the supervisor in September 2013. As part of the settlement, Caltrans received $4,250 from the supervisor in exchange for Caltrans dismissing the actions against him. Nevertheless, Caltrans let 11 months pass before it reported this information to the State Auditor's Office even though it had provided monthly reports to us stating that it was awaiting legal action to address this recommendation.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Resolved


Agency Response From June 2014

Caltrans reported that its lawsuit against the supervisor still is in progress.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response From April 2014

Caltrans reported that its lawsuit against the supervisor still is in progress.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response From January 2014

Caltrans did not provide any new information regarding its implementation of this recommendation.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response From October 2013

Caltrans reported that in May 2012 it filed a lawsuit against the supervisor in Sacramento Superior Court to discover which materials the supervisor removed from Caltrans property and seek either return of the materials or compensation for their replacement. Caltrans stated that it still is seeking reimbursement through this suit.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Case Number I2009-0640

Recommendation #11 To: Transportation, Department of

To address the misappropriation of state property by the supervisor, we recommend that Caltrans seek reimbursement from the supervisor for the $2,000 cost of transporting the steel beams that he placed on his land back to a Caltrans facility. (See I2009-0640, p. 24)

Agency Response From August 2014

Caltrans reported that it reached a negotiated settlement with the supervisor in September 2013. As part of the settlement, Caltrans received $4,250 from the supervisor in exchange for Caltrans dismissing the actions against him. Nevertheless, Caltrans let 11 months pass before it reported this information to the State Auditor's Office even though it had provided monthly reports to us stating that it was awaiting legal action to address this recommendation.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Resolved


Agency Response From June 2014

Caltrans reported that its lawsuit against the supervisor still is in progress.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response From April 2014

Caltrans reported that its lawsuit against the supervisor still is in progress.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response From January 2014

Caltrans did not provide any new information regarding its implementation of this recommendation.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response From October 2013

Caltrans reported that as part of its lawsuit against the supervisor, it is seeking to recover the cost of transporting the beams.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Case Number I2009-0640

Recommendation #12 To: Transportation, Department of

To address the misappropriation of state property by the supervisor, we recommend that Caltrans seek reimbursement from the supervisor for the cost of the Caltrans materials (aside from the steel beams) that he transported to his land and the cost of the state employee time spent transporting and refashioning those materials. (See I2009-0640, p. 24)

Agency Response From August 2014

Caltrans reported that it reached a negotiated settlement with the supervisor in September 2013. As part of the settlement, Caltrans received $4,250 from the supervisor in exchange for Caltrans dismissing the actions against him. Nevertheless, Caltrans let 11 months pass before it reported this information to the State Auditor's Office even though it had provided monthly reports to us stating that it was awaiting legal action to address this recommendation.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Resolved


Agency Response From June 2014

Caltrans reported that its lawsuit against the supervisor still is in progress.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response From April 2014

Caltrans reported that its lawsuit against the supervisor still is in progress.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response From January 2014

Caltrans did not provide any new information regarding its implementation of this recommendation.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response From October 2013

Caltrans reported that as part of its lawsuit against the supervisor, it is seeking to recover the cost of the Caltrans materials he transported to his land and the cost of the state employee time spent transporting and refashioning those materials.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Case Number I2009-0640

Recommendation #13 To: Transportation, Department of

To address the misappropriation of state property by the supervisor, we recommend that Caltrans establish controls to ensure that materials intended for a construction project are tracked properly, and that when materials intended for a federal highway project are not used for the project, the materials are reused for other federal projects or returned to the Highway Administration. (See I2009-0640, p. 24)

Agency Response From August 2014

Caltrans reported that it resolved this recommendation when it issued a memorandum in April 2013 to remind resident engineers of their responsibility to ensure that surplus and salvaged materials from construction projects are documented and properly tracked for future use. Caltrans also reported that it had originally intended for a computerized construction management system to track the purchase and subsequent use for return of all materials used on federal highway projects. However, this system has been placed on hold indefinitely while a third party performs a technical assessment of the system. Caltrans stated that it will determine the best strategy regarding the system when the assessment is complete.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Resolved


Agency Response From June 2014

Caltrans reported that the suspension of its contract still remains in effect through April 1, 2015. In the interim, Caltrans stated that it has engaged an independent third party to perform a technical assessment of the computerized construction management system. Caltrans reiterated that it will evaluate the assessment of the system and make a business decision regarding the future of this project after the suspension ends.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response From April 2014

Caltrans reported that the suspension of its contract with the vendor of the computerized construction management system remains in effect, and it expects the suspension to continue through April 1, 2015. While the suspension remains in effect, Caltrans will continue to perform an assessment of the computerized construction management system. After the suspension ends, Caltrans will evaluate its assessment of the system and make a business decision regarding the future of this project.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response From January 2014

Caltrans told us that it has suspended its contract with the vendor of the computerized construction management system that it was trying to implement. During this period of suspension, it will perform an assessment of the project and determine what to do next.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response From October 2013

Caltrans reported that it is trying to implement a computerized construction management system that will allow it to track the purchase and subsequent use or return of all materials used on federal highway projects. However, during testing of the system, it identified more than 200 critical and severe "bugs" that must be resolved before the system can be implemented. Accordingly, Caltrans is still working to implement the system.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Case Number I2009-0640

Recommendation #14 To: Transportation, Department of

To address the misappropriation of state property by the supervisor, we recommend that Caltrans establish controls to ensure that scrap materials are recycled and not taken for personal use by Caltrans employees. (See I2009-0640, p. 24)

Agency Response From September 2013

Caltrans concluded that the primary reason why scrap materials were being taken for personal use is that employees often did not understand that scrap materials were not available for the taking. Accordingly, Caltrans' division of engineering services issued a directive in July 2012 regarding procedures for the proper disposal and recycling of hazardous and nonhazardous scrap materials which includes an express prohibition against the personal use of scap materials. Caltrans subsequently provided training to staff regarding the directive and posted signs at scap locations warning staff against making personal use of scap materials.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


All Recommendations in I2009-0640


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