Revise its policies regarding travel expense processing to ensure that its travel unit staff looks for travel patterns and other indications of improper travel expense claims.
Public Health reported that the supervisor discussed in detail with the travel staff the "Guidelines for Reviewing Travel Expense Claims to Prevent Fraudulent Expense Charges." These guidelines include specific examples of the patterns and indicators of improper travel expense claims that trigger staff to look into the travel claims further and when to inform their supervisor of possible improper claims, unusual travel patterns, or fraudulent claims. The guidelines were reviewed and discussed again in a follow-up meeting with the travel unit staff in January 2017 to ensure the guidelines are being followed.
Public Health reported that its accounting supervisor and its remaining travel staff received training in August 2016. Public Health also reported that the accounting staff is compiling more specific guidelines for staff to follow when looking for travel patterns and other indications of improper travel expense claims, and it will include these steps in its internal desk procedures manual. Further, Public Health provided a copy of the training roster for the CalATERS training it conducted in October 2016.
Public Health reported that it will remind managers and supervisors of the importance of determining employee headquarters locations during regular CalATERS training sessions; the next training is scheduled for October 2016. In addition, Public Health stated that its policies are in place and during a travel unit meeting in August 2016, the travel unit staff was reminded of the importance of verifying employee headquarters as well as looking for inappropriate travel patterns and identifying safeguards to prevent improper travel expenses. Public Health provided the meeting agenda, a list of attendees, and a copy of the travel procedures and safeguards to prevent fraudulent expense charges.
We notified Public Health that although its policy for safeguards to prevent fraudulent expense charges is a good start, it did not specifically address the recommendation to ensure that travel staff look for travel patterns and other indications of improper travel expense claims. Further, Public Health did not provide substantiation to support that the travel unit staff who were not present at the unit meeting were provided with the same information.